January 2015

Going Places

Mongolia

 

By Tatyana Leonov

One of the most inspiring countries I have ever visited is Mongolia. In the summer, the country is a sea of undulating greens and yellows extending into the distance until they meet the deep blue sky. In the winter, it’s a bleak (yet dramatically beautiful) grey and white vastness that feels enchanted. I remember a local comparing Mongolia’s natural landscape to the Colosseum. “Italy has the Colosseum,” he said. “We have our whole country.” The land awes in every way, and driving, trekking or horse-riding through Mongolia feels otherworldly. With no homes in sight, sometimes for hours, being at one with nature is a way of life.

When you do pass a ger (a third of the population are still nomadic and live in movable circular dwellings that are easy to set up and dismantle), stop and knock on the door. The people of Mongolia are warm, hospitable and full of surprises. Some have never seen tourists before but will happily share their home with you, take you under their wing (not understanding a word you are saying), and still let you play with their children as if they are your own. And that’s what makes Mongolia even more magical. I’ve never spent time with strangers and yet felt so at home, yet so completely away from home.