Someone asked me
” Are you travelling to no- man s world for business ?!”
Yes, its definitely not a common man’s world. Blissfully land locked between Russia and china, it still preserves old traditions and citizens lead a very simple humble life. And that is the country I recently landed in, which left me completely in awe – Mongolia.
My knowledge about Mongolia, was very limited , such as famous ruler – Chinggis Khan, nomadic life, huge equine population and Olympic Mongolian wrestling. With this pre visit idea, I landed in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital city, a very tiring journey with multiple hops and long layovers. The scenic 2 hour fly from Beijing to UB is definitely worth speaking. It is a very low altitude fly and it crossed many beautiful green mountains, barren Gobi desert and some blue waters here and there.
I landed in the small Chinggis airport at UB, surrounded by greeneries, pleasant Californian weather, and lot of friendly smiles. English is definitely not widely spoken but that is not a major drawback. People have lot of time to listen to and help. My taxi vroomed towards the city , and my perception about Mongolia slowly started changing . Fancy cars , modern high rise buildings, neon lights, wide screen TV ads, (did I board the wrong flight and reached Europe ?? ) The city population is very less about 2million. People who live there are mostly expats from Russia and Korea. An Indian is a true foreigner in this land though I managed to find a couple of Indian restaurants.
The land uses its famous ruler to brand everything from airport to Chinggis beer! Just got curious and I started reading about Chinggis khan’s history . Like many notorious personalities he was one heck of an administrator , and ruled biggest geography on earth. Not even Romans nor the Brits had captured that much land as that of the Mongolian ruler, which was later divided by sons and grandsons ! Typical !! Be it a country ruler or an underworld don , or a high class business magnet – they are not brought down by a competitor but many a times by their own heirloom. The story is the same from Aurangzeb to Ambani — Dads build and kids divide !
Well, Mongolians have slightly different body build up , short stork and broad shoulders which is very evident in every statues across the city centers.
My very friendly partners took me for a grand authentic Mongolian dinner. My friends went Gaga about the Mongolian food, but I have never tried it and had no clue what type of staple food they eat. As I sat down to order, searching for some vegetarian food in the menu, the standard set of questions I hear – What is vegetarianism ? Why am I a vegetarian? Why my religion does not allow me to eat? Am I too religious 🙂 ? All that questions answered rhetorically. By then we ordered food and the waitress brought huge tray with lamb skull as the base , topped with all organs – brain, liver and what nots! Even my die hard non vegetarian colleagues, could not say no to the hospitality nor could eat the food! 🙂 But I noticed that cooking was done very traditionally. In fact they had added some local stone, not sure about the name but that’s just to enhance the taste – I guess its like south Indian grand mom s stoneware upma s! And I tasted the local Mongolian tea which was more like a porridge salty with camels milk. Every table had a Mongolian small good luck game to kill our time while eating- later came to know that dice is made of bones !
The dinner discussion went on about the yurt, Gher, nomadic life, the weather, the politics, agriculture etc. ! Interestingly many nomads have cars, Television and mobile phones , basically they move for farming and for cattle s to different places in their own vehicle! May be good , may be not – sooner or later will move to the city for settlement!
Well that short trip to Mongolia, a relaxing 4 day sojourn gave a completely different idea about people from Mongolia!!I will definitely visit again for business and will explore the country side. As always my retirement plans keeps changing with every travel of mine or the book which makes an impact – last time I thought I will settle with Tarahumara tribe and run for life. But now until next interesting set of people and place , I will settle in Mongolia with 10 horses and a small piece of land in a yurt. ( only summer as winter is freaking cold and goes up to -30 degrees)