Winter Adventure in January - 2020
An interview with our Nomadic traveler -
1. What made you take a trip to Mongolia?
To be honest, I'm not completely sure why I decided to book it - I think I saw the ad some time ago and thought it looked like a good adventure. As I was going home for Christmas and this year's winter holiday was really early, I wanted to find a place to go other than home (which of course is nice too when you live far from your family), but decided to go somewhere I have never been before and where few people go. So the first thing that crossed my path was Mongolia.
2. What were your expectations before going and how was that different to the reality?
I had been looking at pictures on the internet before I went, and I have a friend from Inner Mongolia who sometimes showed me pictures of her home. My expectations... honestly I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was open for a surprise and tried to expect as little as possible. I had read a couple of books, because sadly my general knowledge about Mongolian history and life was rather limited. Sadly it’s a country that we don’t hear of a lot!
Expectations, when they don't get met, usually lead to disappointment, and I just wanted to experience something new with an open mind. The reality was mind blowing and awesome, it was a good choice to go to Mongolia!
3.What is the first thing you remember experiencing in Mongolia?
The first thing I thought, when we flew into Ulaan Baatar was: There are so many hills and mountains, almost no cities or towns. And a lot of snow. And clear, blue sky... then, after landing, my guide picked me up - he's a funny and very knowledgeable guy, I was lucky to have a guide like him! The first thing stepping outside the airport was a breeze of fresh air. In the evening, when I walked around the parliament building, I could feel the cold for the first time. Killing my iPhone battery in a very quick time. Later my guide told me that Mongolians joke when the winter comes: Better take care of your iPhone! ... As the cold kills the battery within a couple of minutes.
4. What was the highlight of your whole trip?
There were several highlights... I can tell you a few. One was definitely visiting the Kazakh family. They were very friendly and told a couple of interesting stories about how they made it to Mongolia, and when we left they invited me to come again. That was quite touching. Another highlight was living in a Ger and experiencing nomad life with a family. The landscape was just beautiful, the sky was so clear at night - which is one thing that struck me the first night in the countryside - the night was super cold, there was no moon and the sky was full of stars!! My temporary home is in Shanghai, and we almost never see a clear sky at night, leave alone all the stars there are to see. Other highlights were just hiking around the countryside, trying out dog sledding, and feeling very welcomed by the people we met in general.
5. What! You went in winter!!! Wasn´t it cold?
Sure, it was cold. But I came prepared, haha! I think if you bring the right clothes, it's not bad. I was lucky and had sunshine every day, so during the day it was quite nice, even when temperatures where at -17 C. At night it was a different story. I tried to not go out after 9 pm, because it was freezing cold and simple things like going to the toilet ended in legs feelings numb and fingers feeling freezing cold. And phone battery dying (you needed a lamp to find the toilet when with the nomad family, and find your way through a herd of cattle. So you need some light to see where you're going... I recommend, no matter if winter or summer, bring a small flash light.)
6. Any tips to fellow travelers thinking about going to Mongolia?
Tips... if you like to rely on internet and social media, don't expect too much outside the city. You can get a Mongolian Sim card, but coverage is quite bad at times, so you will be off the grid for probably quite a while. Something to enjoy! I would bring extra batteries, loaded, because also if you're not in a city, it might become hard to get by electricity. Pack as if you went camping, more or less, if you decide to stay outside the city. In winter, bring a couple layers of clothes and, important, good gloves. The only thing I regret was that my gloves weren't as good as I expected them to be. Also, if you go in winter, basically pack as if you were going on a ski trip. Warm socks, shoes etc. As for the rest - bring an open mind, enjoy the food, which might be quite different from what you know, and enjoy your stay! You might want to book your flight early as well, as there are not too many choices and they might get a bit pricey. I'm eager to go again to see more of this beautiful country.