Asia Forums

Start a new topic Change Forum
Advanced search

Great Wall sleepover and Mongolia Trip Report

Jump to last reply

Oh my goodness, what a novella this thing has become. I erred on the side of comprehensiveness so I’d have a record for myself of at least some of what happened in Mongolia, in addition to sharing with prospective Mongolian travelers.

Photos in Kodak Gallery—I believe you must sign in as a new member or existing member:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=k8fpf01.ijgibox&x=1&y=-291z5c


Accessing the same Photos in Kodak Gallery without signing in:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=k8fpf01.ijgibox&x=0&y=-14izls


The June 28-July 23, 2005 trip encompassed sleeping overnight on The Great Wall, Hustai Nuruu Wild Horse Reserve, Karakhorum, Erdene Zuu Monastery, staying with a Mongolian Family, Terelj National Park, Manzhir Monastery ruins, Naadam Festival, The Gobi, Altai Mountains, and Lake Huvsgul. If these are places/activities you are interested in, you could pull down “Edit,” and choose “Find in This Page” and type in the topic you wish to read about.

The June 29 arrival on China Air to Beijing in the early evening and the hour-long transfer to Jianguo Garden Hotel ended a smooth flight. That evening I met the owner of the travel agency, several employees, and other clients who were traveling in Asia and we wasted no time getting into the Mongolian spirit by dining in a Mongolian restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. The spicy lamb kabobs were tasty but not quite authentic because traditional Mongolian cooking uses very little spice so as not to mask any meat spoilage. Mongolian musicians played traditional instruments to serenade the diners.

I started the next day with an early morning walk to the gates of the Forbidden City and returned to the hotel by 8:15 am. Even at that early hour, the heat and humidity were so intense that many ladies had already opened their umbrellas for protection from the sun. Having no brelly, my only defense was to sweat. At 9:00 four of us met our guide Cindy for a return, by vehicle, to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square for photos. Then on to a local neighborhood for lunch and a walk, trading our van for a rickshaw.

By afternoon we departed for our overnight adventure on The Great Wall, a 3-hour drive from Beijing, which included one minor fender bender en route. Upon arrival at Jinshanling, as that section of the Wall is known, Cindy and the driver bid us farewell to stay overnight in the village. We started our ascent to our overnight watchtower on The Wall with the wife of the husband and wife team who oversaw the sleep-on-The-Wall operation. She led us up recently made steps for about 20 minutes until we reached a point where we could enter The Wall. The next 20-minute climb to our watchtower destination was far more interesting because we were actually walking ON the ancient Wall.

Eventually we reached our watchtower accommodations and met the husband of the husband of the caretakers of The Wall. He offered us a variety of snacks and beverages. For the remainder of the late afternoon and early evening we became acquainted with The Wall, hiking from tower to tower and enjoying the view. After watching the sunset, a delicious dinner was delivered (true Chinese takeout!) and we dined on plastic furniture atop the tower. A table with a view!

A mat and sleeping bag were provided for each of us and we could sleep most anywhere in a couple of watchtowers, which were covered and protected from rain. No rain for us. Two of us opted for the second story of one of the watchtowers, which was open to the stars. For the remainder of the trip I was reminded of that wonderful experience under the stars by numerous itchy bug bites. The next morning I got up at 4:15 am to hike on The Wall before the heat and humidity became overwhelming. Doing tai chi on The Great Wall at sunrise seemed fitting. There were miles of uninterrupted wall that could be viewed and hiked in solitude. Some of it was crumbling, but much was in excellent condition. I was quite comfortable hiking alone because even with my poor sense of direction, I knew I couldn’t get lost on a wall that goes only forward and backward. A breakfast of ramen noodles was delivered bout 7:00 am.

There are no toilet or water facilities, but bottled water and other beverages are free of charge. There are sections where you can descend the wall and reach the ground when nature calls. Flashlights are provided.

My travel agent summed it up when he described the overnight at Jinshanling as a “World Class!” Indeed it was!

We departed The Wall in the morning and drove back to Beijing to spend the rest of the day at the Forbidden City. By night I was exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep to be ready for Mongolia.

  • Report Abuse

    The next morning two separate accidents on the highway to the airport caused two lengthy delays and some doubts about making the twice-weekly plane from Beijing to Ulaan Bataar. Not to worry, by midday I was de-planing in Mongolia’s capital after a smooth flight.

    Not all of my transportation in Mongolia went so smoothly, which is typical. Here’s a brief summary of cancellations and delays to give would-be travelers to Mongolia an idea of how flexible their itinerary or at least attitude should be:

    A couple weeks before my departure, the schedule for the Beijing-Ulaan Bataar passenger train was changed by several days, requiring me to cancel my reservation. Four days before one of my internal flights, I learned the plane no longer flew to where I had booked, so I missed things I had wanted so see. Another flight changed from a day to a night flight, resulting in a lost day at the destination and requiring an additional 3-hour road transfer, due to a washed out landing strip.

    But while there were delays and cancellations, I never had any qualms about the safety of any aircraft. They were well maintained on the inside (the only part I inspected) and every landing, even on the gravel Gobi airstrip, was a perfect kiss of the ground.

    I must give credit to Mongol Global, my travel agency--toll free (866) 225-0577
    www.mongolglobaltours.com--because they promptly informed me of the changes that were not of their doing, offered alternatives and willingly booked my (more expensive) requests. When the itinerary changes due to transportation occurred after my arrival in Mongolia, a company representative came to the hotel to explain the situation, offer apologies, and come up with “Plan B’s.” None of the modifications I ended up making were at a cost to me. I am planning a 2006 trip to Asia using them again.

    I met “Eggy,” my Mongolian guide, after collecting my bags at the airport and soon discovered he had studied in my home state of Wisconsin. Upon learning my origins, he wistfully recalled savoring his favorite Wisconsin beer, Leinenkugels and was surprised I did not share his enthusiasm for the beverage.

    Shortly after departing the airport we saw several galloping horses and their mounts, kicking up a cloud of dust, and I learned these were horses training for the renowned Naadam Festival, to be held in a couple of weeks. A fitting welcome, I thought.

    On to Hustai Nuruu, home of the wild Mongolian horses. Eggy told me the best time of year to view the wild Przwalski horses or Takhis, as the Mongolians call them, is in late August or September, when they have fed all summer and are more relaxed. But our early July viewing proved highly successful that evening. After supper, we drove about 45 minutes from the ger camp before our first takhi sighting. First herd: 9 adults including 1 dominant stallion and 1 old feeble stallion and 3 foals. We parked the car and approached on foot to about 50 meters. Second herd: 5 adults at a great distance viewed while watching the first herd. Third herd: 15 adults, including 1 stallion, 1 yearling, viewed on foot. The stallion was probably new to the herd and killed the foals he had not sired. Fourth herd: 12 adults and 1 foal crossed the road in front of our car as we were heading back to the ger camp. Fifth herd: At least 20 adults and 2 foals along the roadside in near darkness.

    A 7:00 morning departure in search of the Takhis produced very good views on foot of a herd of 17 adults, including a stallion and 3 foals, somewhat closer than the 50 meters the previous night. Typically morning and evening produce the best viewing because during the heat of the day the takhis venture high into the thicker brush, only coming down to drink from streams in the cool of the evening and then lingering until morning.

    When not viewing the wild horses, you could ride the domesticated horses across the steppes with a guide (and I think without a guide also)—that is if the horses could be found by the wrangler. One day our ride was delayed by 5 hours because the domestic herd had strayed much farther than had been thought so collecting them took longer. The wrangler eventually returned with the camp horses, but also brought back a rare treat. One of the wild horses tagged along and joined in the domestic herd, which was not at all an accepting bunch. The wild horse remained around the ger camp for at least 4 days, even though it was kicked and pushed from the water sources by the domestic horses and or else just ignored. Poor guy.

    You could also hike in this lovely area of rolling steppes. The plants were so aromatic and the many grasshopper species so plentiful that a stroll was a multi-sensory experience of wonderful smells and insects jumping about. I actually had to slow my gait so as not to step on all the jumping grasshoppers. Horseback riding produced a similar experience but the horses had no qualms about squashing on the insects.

    Also observed in this area were the ubiquitous marmots that seemed to know they were protected from hunting in the national park.

    We witnessed an unusual activity by a ground squirrel and a small bird (species unknown) riding on the back of the ground squirrels, probably to eat the insects stirred up by the ground squirrel.

    I stayed at the Hustai Preserve Ger Camp. Very comfortable gers, fine food, nice shower building with modern toilets.

    About a five hour drive from Hustai is Karakhorum. This was the ancient capital, but it is now just open countryside. Some of the bricks from the original structures are used in the nearby Erdene Zuu Buddhist Monastery, a most impressive structure in a beautiful setting, currently in use by Buddhist monks.

    I Stayed in Anar Tourist Camp near the picturesque Ohron River, with grazing herds of horses and yaks that came to drink. Nice area to climb hills for an aerial perspective.

  • Report Abuse

    About an hour from UB was countryside with nomadic families and I had the privilege of staying with one of them. At the time of my visit, the hosts’ married daughter, who lived in UB, and her newborn were also there, plus five grandchildren from another adult child. The grandchildren from the city were spending the summer with the grandparents in the country, a widespread tradition. I had brought some gifts, but because of the newborn, we stopped at a grocery store and bought additional food to present the family.

    Upon arrival we entered the ger and proceeded to the left and sat on stools or the bed. A 3-foot tall leather pouch for stirring the aruk (fermented mare’s milk) hung at the foot of the bed where I slept. The “man of the ger” sat at the rear, in front of the family shrine. I was greeted with a silver cup of vodka made from yogurt . Offerings are always accepted with the right hand, left arm bent with the left hand touching the right elbow. It was not strong vodka, which was good because there were several rounds. Then dried cheese curds and milk tea were offered. Also served at other times were rice and lamb, an excellent yogurt and a tasty boiled mike porridge. All quite delicious. Always available was the aruk, but I disliked that even more than Leininkugels.

    My main meals were taken at a nearby ger camp, a 30 minute walk or a 5 minute drive. A traditional meal of lamb cooked in layers of hot rocks was served, with rice, potatoes, and carrots. After the rocks cooled a bit, they were grasped and passed between hands as a means to relieve stress, in case the vodka had not accomplished that purpose. At this ger camp and throughout the trip, lamb was a frequent entrée. In general the food served at restaurants and ger camps was varied and delicious with far more produce and fruit (especially watermelon) than I would have thought. The only item during the entire trip that I did not eat was beef tongue due to my own insecurities.

    Activities at the family’s ger included observing whatever they happened to be doing and walking around enjoying the hills and mingling with the family’s herds or those of neighboring families. Since milking the mares was done every two hours during the day and there were about 10 mares with nursing foals, I watched that activity numerous times. The foals were tethered so their mothers did not stray far and some of the horses were hobbled to keep them from running off. This herd had three stallions and about 35 horses total.

    I also watched their small herd of yaks and massive herds of goats and sheep being milked. I saw the skillful butchering of a goat that had been slaughtered moments before I returned from one of the meals at the nearby ger camp. But most of my time was just spent wandering amongst the herds of horses, goats, sheep, cattle, and yaks.

    The night was spent on a very comfortable bed, that was also available during the heat of the day for a nap, and I admit taking advantage of it for about 45 minutes one afternoon. The daughter and her baby, who were visiting from UB also slept in the ger. During the day everyone spent time in it.

    A highlight of my stay with the family was assisting in the horse herding. The morning routine is to depart at dawn to locate the herds that have been grazing in the steppes all night. The horse chosen for me to ride showed obvious fear as I approached and I was warned it was because I did not look or smell like the Mongolians she was used to. After the horse became comfortable and I mounted, I was led for the first 15 minutes of our ride until the horse got used to me. Then I followed the “man of the ger” through the hills in search of the horse herd. We eventually located it and I took some photos of him rounding up the horses and heading them back towards the ger where the mares would be milked.

    Suddenly I was motioned to continue the herding the horses, while he went to find the stragglers. Never having herded anything before, I was a bit concerned about the task, but I had a very cooperative horse and we kept the herd together and moving in the right direction while the stragglers were rounded up. After bringing in this herd we headed off to find another but were not successful in locating them and returned to the ger about an hour later. Eggy had lent me his traditional jacket for the riding and herding experience and if it weren’t for my protective bike helmet I would have felt like a real Mongolian!

  • Report Abuse

    I visited Terelj, about an hour from UB, as a day trip: This is a beautiful pine forest with nice hiking along a stream and a great trail ride where we crossed the river on horseback about a half dozen times. The trails would open into pastures with sheep and yaks and even some pigs. The guide made a stop at his home for lunch and invited his three guest riders in for yogurt and milk tea. His children were happy to have dad home and we witnessed a lovely Mongolian family having lunch.

    Manzhir Monastery was also a day trip, under an hour from UB. The ruins of this monastery that was destroyed by Communists sit in forested hills where you can hike. It made for a lovely morning activity. Eggy said that this setting has the distinction of being the first national park in the world! Lunch at a nearby ger camp was a bit confused and delayed so our server suggested some table tennis during the wait. For about half an hour I had some friendly volleys with my driver, who was as adept with the paddle as with the heavy, erratic traffic of UB.

    Most of my nights in UB were spent at The Palace Hotel, which was quite nice with a wonderful staff. Its location is fair. For Naadam festivities the location is wonderful.

    When it was time to part with Eggy, I felt like I was leaving a dear friend from back home, and in a way I was, with his two years spent studying in my home state of Wisconsin. He presented me with an appropriate farewell gift: a dozen sheep ankle bones that were used to play a variety of traditional games he had taught me. (I did declare them in customs when I returned home since they are an animal product.)

    The remainder of my itinerary was with a group that varied in size from 20 for Naadam and UB museums to 7 for The Gobi, Altai Mountains, and Lake Huvsgul.

    The leader for most of these group excursions was Chinzo. He told us he had been with the Russian military for about six years but eventually one of his commanders suggested he might be better suited for other endeavors. The commander correctly surmised that if a Mongolian general were ever to issue a disagreeable order to Chinzo, it was likely he might tell the general to “---- off!” So he became a tour guide instead! Chinzo took the Ghengis Khan approach to maneuvering his group through airports, to the front of any line, or into the Naadam stadium, taking no prisoners and actually receiving salutes in deference from other guides. His demeanor toward the clients was of a doting mother hen who wanted us to enjoy and love the country as much as he did.

    The first activity after joining the group was an evening performance of the Tumen Ekh National Performers that included traditional instruments, contortionists, and throat singers. Highly entertaining talent at this nightly performance! We also went to the National History Museum, where I especially enjoyed the tribal costumes from Ghengis Khan’s era. The animal husbandry exhibit was a bit disturbing with its castration tools. Also visited the National Art Gallery and the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts that houses the famous detailed painting, One Day in Mongolia..

    We were warned upon entering the Gandan Monastery with its 80 foot Buddha to be careful of the people who might, “take your pocket.” Apparently pick pockets preyed on visiting tourists, oblivious to any bad karma such acts might cause. On to the Chojin Lama Temple Museum for more Buddhist history, beautiful artifacts, and practicing lamas. Interestingly, all outdoor photography at Buddhist temples is free, but any indoor Buddha snapshots required payment. This was true throughout the country. All of these UB attractions were easily accessible.

  • Report Abuse

    Naadam Festival in UB always July 11, 12, 13:
    On July 11 we joined the throngs in the square to see the flag bearing military men on horseback assemble and begin the journey to the stadium. We arrived at the stadium over an hour before the festivities began and watched it fill to near capacity While crowded, it was not as uncomfortably or dangerously packed as I had anticipated. Cloud cover was welcome while it lasted as there was no shade.

    I’m not a parade person and seriously considered avoiding the Naadam crowds altogether, but these opening ceremonies were a beautiful, heartfelt, patriotic celebration that was a spectacle to behold. From precision riders to hundreds of archers and wrestlers in costume to traditional and modern music and dance, it was absolutely captivating.

    The famous horse racing was an hour’s drive out of town and spectators were kept probably a quarter mile from the event so binocs were needed. It was possible to get closer to the young jockeys after they had finished the race and were milling about with family. I witnessed only the first day of activities, which concluded with a marvelous annual Naadam concert of traditional instruments, folk songs, throat singing, and film clips at the UB opera house. If Naadam were a priority for you, then two days should be allotted to be able to see the racing, wrestling, and archery in all their glory.

    I was told that the Gobi tends to be at its hottest just after Naadam. Wouldn’t you know, one day after enjoying Naadam I took a 2-hour flight to the Gobi Desert airstrip. More gravel than sand, this harsh environment was inhabited by some of the toughest nomads and their herds. In July it was indeed HOT to the point of absolute inactivity during midday. There are beautiful flaming cliffs, like a mini Grand Canyon, and nearby sand dunes where I rode a camel and others hiked. Along a stream that cuts through high canyon walls were the remnants of a glacier that hangs on through July each year. We rode camels along the stream then hiked, always sporting a wet towel around our necks due to the heat. On one of the two days spent in the Gobi I spied three camels in the distance during the heat of the day, almost as a mirage. Despite the heat, I couldn’t miss that opportunity and walked to within several meters of them and took some photos. We also met a camel herder in the Gobi with dozens of camels. I saw one mother and baby black striped gazelle running at a distance and we had some hedgehogs around camp. When planning the trip, I had contemplated much more time in this famous region, but in July’s extreme heat I came to believe my two nights were adequate.

    I stayed at Gobi Discovery Tourist Camp, comfortable like the rest of the ger camps.


    Next stop—The Altai Mountains and Lake Uureg near the Kazakhstan border, about a 3 hour flight from UB: Due to a cancelled return flight from the city Ulgii, we had to fly both in and out of UlaanGoom, and shorten this excursion by a day so only three days were spent in this region. Several hours of driving over very rough terrain brought us to pristine Lake Uureg where we hiked along its rocky shores. For miles there was no sign of any inhabitants, just steep rolling hills.

    This region has quite a few Kazakh Mongols, whose gers are much larger and used only during the summer. We were invited into some of these for milk-tea and dried curds. They live in structures at their winter pastures during the cold months, so they are not truly nomadic.

    Besides its remote beauty, a highlight of this area was the burial stones and sites that spanned thousands of years and various civilizations. These archeological wonders were just strewn throughout the countryside, sometimes with assorted herds grazing amongst them. We had an archeological expert who had worked on excavations in the area with us to help find and interpret these many treasures.

    The reduction of a day due to the flight cancellation, meant we were unable to visit the Kazakh Eagle Hunters, who lived near Ulgii. We hoped we might find one nearby family that raised eagles, but the heat wave the area had been experiencing had sent the eagle handlers and their golden eagles into the mountains to escape the high temperatures. It was a disappointment, but at the end of September is an eagle hunter festival in this region where you can actually watch the eagles hunt. I think I’ll return someday at the end of September.

    Back in UlanGoom three of us went on a short horseback riding trip through a stream, meadows, and flocks of sheep and goats.

    Accommodations were pup tents with sleeping bags, all provided, and we had a cook that prepared meals out of the back of a truck. She made some of the best food of the whole trip and there was tough competition.

    Lake Huvsgul was about a 2 ½ hour flight north from UB to a much colder climate: A late departure meant we had extra time in UB and Chinzo took us to a fascinating Buddhist nunnery where our driver had been schooled as a little boy. Our flight to Moron arrived about 9pm and then we had a 3 hour drive to Lake Huvsgul. If an airstrip near the lake had been available, it would have been a 20 minute transfer, but rains had washed it out, so flying to Moron was necessary. The road was horrendous, even by Mongolian standards. Expect to be slammed around inside a vehicle when traveling to the more remote regions. Any less harsh description would be inaccurate. The destinations are well worth the ride, but the ride can be almost brutal. (Worse than any African or Central American road I’ve ever been on..)

    The next day we headed out to the other side of the lake to visit the Tsaatan reindeer herders. The roads were similarly bad and in the rain it took two hours to reach them. We were invited into their teepee structure for reindeer milk tea and enjoyed their sense of humor that was conveyed through Chinzo’s translation. We wandered amongst their tethered reindeer outside. Very interesting. The rain continued and our feet were a muddy, reindeer-poopy mess by the time we bid farewell to the Tsaatan family. The bumpy ride back was even more difficult because our feet slipped on the floor of the jeep, being muddy and reindeer-poopy, so we were tossed about the vehicle for a couple of hours.

    We exited the jeep to sunny skies at last so I took advantage and went horseback riding with local guide Siggy, along the lovely lake, stopping to photograph yaks and other sights. Siggy also took me for my only yak riding experience. He was interested in improving his English and picking up English expressions and was especially fond of the expression 24/7 for the term "always." He urged me to hang onto the yak saddle 24/7 for my hour's ride in the countryside. 24/7 seemed a bit excessive but I was glad that I heeded the warning because when Siggy lit a cigarette, the yak was spooked and did some tricky footwork. I remained atop the beast, gripping the saddle 24/7.

    While the horse and yak riding each cost $3 US, Siggy took me on a hike to the surrounding hilltops with gorgeous views for free in exchange for speaking English. In addition to general conversation, our hike added the terms bouquet and tutor to his vocabulary. We also discussed the slang of “Whadup” and how it differs from the grammatical “What’s up.” Unescorted hiking was also safe and convenient and I did some of that too.

    I stayed in Hangard Tourist Camp, one of the many establishments in this picturesque region. This ger camp had the added bonus of a wood stove that attendants would fill with firewood at night to warm the ger. A group of talented musicians, singers, and dancers in beautiful costumes put on a wonderful performance in the intimate confines of the lodge building.

    For our 3-hour return trip back to the airport in Moron, it was beautiful weather, midday and we were not in a rush. The scenery from Lake Huvsgul to Moron was spectacular—very green and lush hills with trees, blue streams, and large herds enjoying them both. We were able to make numerous stops for viewing and photos. I had cursed the three hour bumpy night ride in the rain to Huvsgul from Moron but thoroughly enjoyed the return trip and am glad I did not just fly over that stretch to the airstrip near Huvsgul.

    The journey home was lengthened not by Mongolian transportation, but China Air. One 3-hour delay had a domino effect so that it was 44 hours from the time I left the Palace Hotel in Ulaan Bataar until I was home in Wisconsin. That was plenty of time to reflect on my journey and come to this conclusion about Mongolia:

    wonderfully warm and hospitable people, extraordinary culture, spectacular vistas and scenery, picturesque grazing herds, both good and horrible roads, delicious food, unreliable transportation schedules but safe transportation vessels, impressive performing arts, excellent horse back riding, amazing travel experiences, fabulous destination, worthy of a return visit!

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks for taking the time to post this great trip report. After reading this and seeing your photos, I am so torn about where to go next year (maybe I'll be all safari'd out after this 3 week trip and spared from having to make an agonizing decision over whether to go to Mongolia or Uganda ;) )!

    Some more questions about your trip - how long was the drive from UB to Hustai? Did you travel here directly from the airport or did you spend your first night in UB? Do you know if it's possible to view/track the tahki herds on horseback or are their locations too unpredictable or far from camp so that a vehicle is necessary?

    Which airline(s) did you fly to UlaanGoom and Moron? Is UlaanGoom in Khovd province? I was wondering if this is the same alternate airport that's mentioned toward the bottom of this page (I'm still quite clueless about Mongolia geography at this stage) -

    http://www.mongoliaaltaiexpeditions.com/AEF.htm

    Did you find the Lake Husvgul area crowded? I know you mentioned to me before that there were quite a few ger camps in the area. Are they in very close proximity to each other? Does it tend to detract from a the stay here? I think I'd be a bit disappointed if I saw clusters and clusters of camps.

    Other than the overnight at the wall, did you have any problems with biting insects?

    Thanks again for your help! Loved the 24/7 comment by your guide :D

  • Report Abuse

    How long was the drive from UB to Hustai? About 4 hours

    Did you travel here directly from the airport or did you spend your first night in UB?
    I went right from the airport and spent my UB time a little later in the trip. Some of that timing had to do with working around the cancelled train from Beijing to UB.

    Do you know if it's possible to view/track the tahki herds on horseback or are their locations too unpredictable or far from camp so that a vehicle is necessary? It may be possible but, it is their distance from camp (about 45 minutes by vehicle) and unpredictability
    that make a vehicle a better option. We exited the vehicle and viewed them on foot most of the time, rather than from the window of the car.

    Which airline(s) did you fly to UlaanGoom and Moron? Aero Mongolia

    Is UlaanGoom in Khovd province?
    It is in Uvs province, in the Northwest.

    I was wondering if this is the same alternate airport that's mentioned toward the bottom of this page (I'm still quite clueless about Mongolia geography at this stage)

    http://www.mongoliaaltaiexpeditions.com/AEF.htm
    I'll check that site and respond later.

    Did you find the Lake Husvgul area crowded? Not crowded, but more people than some of the other areas. Hiking we saw no one. The other camps were spread out around the lake and not all in one area. It is not like a ski chalet.

    I know you mentioned to me before that there were quite a few ger camps in the area. Are they in very close proximity to each other? Does it tend to detract from a the stay here? I think I'd be a bit disappointed if I saw clusters and clusters of camps.

    I believe there was one other ger camp within walking distance of where I was.
    There also was a public camp ground where local campers stayed. It was a little less than a mile away. There also were some local people living near the ger camp with herds of horses and yaks.

    I know you can do several days of horse trekking in Huvsugl also. THAT would get you away from any crowds.

    Other than the overnight at the wall, did you have any problems with biting insects?
    Nothing bitng. Each region seemed to have its specialty of insect that enjoyed sharing the ger. Black beetles in one area, grasshoppers in another. They did not bit or bother anyone, but sometimes the visible ones numbered in the teens.

  • Report Abuse

    Thyra,

    Yes, it was wonderful. Thank you. I think I'll make a return or two to see the Eagle Hunter festival in late Sept and also to see some small Naadams in the more rural towns. If you do go, I'd be interested in your planning process.

  • Report Abuse

    Wonderful report!

    I found out today that I'll be going to Ulaanbataar to do some legal consultation for the national legislature. It'll be for a week in early December, so I imagine it will be quite cold and not conducive to getting out into the countryside. Too bad!

    I gather, from some quick Internet browsing, that gift-exchanges are a big thing for Mongolians. Any idea what sort of gifts would be appropriate to bring from the States to give to city-dwellers in UB?

  • Report Abuse

    Sorry for the delayed reply, haven't checked this one for quite some time.

    Clothing or hats with logos from your city or sports teams would be appreciated. Also key chains with local insignia, or magnets.

    A step up from these could be a Swiss Mountain Army knife (or similar for men) and an accesory scarf (not a wool one) for a woman.

    For kids I got small plastic dinosaur finger puppets and little toy frogs whose eyes bulge out when you squeeze them. Some markers. Also hair clips/barretts for girls. I only gave the children's gifts to the parents to present to the children and not directly to the kids.

    Hope you have time for fun in addition to work.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Lynn,
    Your probably no longer looking here but if you are I want to commend you on writing this fascinating and informative report. You gave us a good sense of what this not often seen area is like. I'm intrigued now. Can you rec. any books? Also, what was the temp. range - I know you said hot. Is their summer basically similar to ours in the NE US? Is this the best time to go?
    See you in Africa;
    Sherry

  • Report Abuse

    Lynn,

    What an experience and what an amazing trip report. Thanks so much. It has long been my ambition to visit both the Great Wall of China and Mongolia.

    The photos were great.

    Gill.

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks for all the encouraging words!

    In Beijing during the summer it was incredibly hot and humid, close to 100 F.

    In Mongolia it into the upper 80s F and down to the upper 50s. Sometimes there was whipping wind.

    My favorite book was Stanley Stewart's In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A journey among nomads.

  • Report Abuse

    wow a travel lynn!

    Congratulations on a spectacular trip! Holy cow!

    I want to sleep on the wall!! (Actually, I want to do everything!)

    Do you speak Chinese or Mongolian? Did you have a travel partner or crew? Were you ever scared or did things flow pretty much for you?

    I loved the pictures, thank you for the reply!

  • Report Abuse

    Why thank you Valerie! What a dilemma we have wanting to go everywhere. Then I also suffer from wanting to go back.

    "Do you speak Chinese or Mongolian?"
    Mandarin Vocab = hello, thank you, beer (I don't even like beer), and panda.

    Mongolian Vocab = hello, goodbye, thank you, good, aruk (fermented mare's milk, which I like less than beer), beautiful, baby, beautiful baby, horse, wild horse, cow, yak, camel, goat, sheep, the word for giddyup when used for a horse, a yak, and a camel.

    With that limited of a vocabulary I needed a guide. I joined a group for parts of the trip too.

    Nothing was ever scary or frightening, except for about 10 minutes when I temporarily misplaced all my camera gear.

    Things always flowed. In Mongolia they did not necessarily flow at the pace or in the direction I had anticipated. But that's part of the charm of the place. Everything went well enough that I returned in June 2006 to volunteer at a panda sanctuary in China (where I learned the word xiong mao for panda).

    I am hoping to return to Mongolia in a couple of years and will need to brush up on my limited vocabulary, much of which I've forgotten. Choo is the word to make the horse go faster but I probably won't be doing much riding next time so that word won't be used all that much.

    I went with this company for both trips.

    www.mongolglobaltours.com

    Happy travels to you and thanks, Valerie, for checking out my report.

22 Replies |Back to top

| Add a Reply

Sign in to comment.

Recent Activity

  • Announcements:
  • Writers Needed for Georgia Coast
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Jul 18, 14 at 03:12 PM
  • Writers Needed for Rwanda and Uganda
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Jul 18, 14 at 03:12 PM
  • Writers Needed for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Jul 18, 14 at 03:11 PM
View all Asia activity »
  1. 1 15 Days in Japan, Itinerary Help Please
  2. 2 Bangkok - Side trip to Ayutthaya
  3. 3 Travel during China national week?
  4. 4 Honeymoon in Nha Trang
  5. 5 Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai -- HOW?
  6. 6 Honeymoon in december 2014
  7. 7 Trip Report Trip report/blog - 10 days in Tokyo and Kyoto
  8. 8 Favorite travel apps?
  9. 9 Food tours in HCMC/Saigon?
  10. 10 Weekend Market and Or Tor Kor-Bangkok
  11. 11 Trip Report 4 wonderful solo weeks in South Korea
  12. 12 Trip Report Selecting A Guide for Bhutan (Bridge To Bhutan)
  13. 13 Trip Report Destination Bangkok, again
  14. 14 Knockoff Designer bags in Vietnam?
  15. 15 Foreign currency
  16. 16 how to book a train from -DaNang to Hue, Vietnam
  17. 17 Vacay to Thailand end of December-January 2014
  18. 18 Airfare from Bali to Ko Samui
  19. 19 Honeymoon In sept
  20. 20 Vietnam October 2014
  21. 21 Trip Report India Wildlife Expedition Trip Report!
  22. 22 Indonesian visa update
  23. 23 Tourist Visa for France/UK
  24. 24 Kyushu Japan: Driver Needed For Amakusa
  25. 25 Trip Report Hong Kong in June - Oh The Humidity!!
View next 25 » Back to the top