Mongolia

After reading the Lonely Planet guide to Mongolia, it does sound like an interesting place to visit — especially if you’re into spending a week on horseback or mountain-biking into the hinterlands without a guide or sleeping in a yurt. Getting travel insurance is highly recommended.

Even if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea (which I read is of rather low quality there) it sounds like Mongolia could be fun for two reasons: the country sounds beautiful and they’re still smitten with Genghis Khan.

Other tidbits:

  • In 2004 Mongolia’s left and right had a statistical deadheat in the election. Did they form a coalition government and rule together? Yes. Did the parties and their adherents see this as a reason to become more partisan and petty? No. Did they try to divide themselves into Red and Blue people? Perhaps, but I doubt it.
  • Mongolia’s GDP is US$1840 per capita, putting it 175th out of 200 countries. Yet they have a literacy rate of 98%. But they do have an unemployment rate of 12% in the country and 30% in the cities.
  • There are thirteen horses for every person.
  • “Survival phrases” (translated into English)
    • Hold the dog!
    • Does your hotel have heating?
    • Are your sheep fattening up nicely?
    • I would like to ride a calm (nonagressive) horse.
    • Is there any food available?

Fun things to do (from my perspective) include riding a camel on the Khongoryn Els sand dunes; watching brawny guys take on all comers at the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar; digging for dinosaur bones in Guruan Saikhan; hiking in scenic Khovsgol Nuur, Tsambagarev Uul NP, and Altai Tavan Bogd NP; seeing the canyons and ridges of Bayanagovi; stepping out on the ice-covered gorges of Yolyn Am in the summer; stopping in Amarbayasgalant Khild, the “architectural highlight of the country;” and roaming with the nomadic herders.

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