Why is it the experiences that move us most deeply are the hardest to put into words? Perhaps it’s because experiences of the soul don’t need to be broadcast, filtered and hash-tagged, they just are.
And so Mongolia goes about being magnificent, in the quietest and humblest of ways, surprising vistors with it’s immense beauty, and it’s magical ability to slow you down and re-centre you from within. Let’s call it a retreat for the adventurous.
The capital and a great place to do an international culinary tour. You’ll be spoilt for choice of restaurants here. When I first arrived in Ulaanbaatar, I noticed how sweet is was to see friends affectingly arm in arm, strolling down the street together, whilst I raced past making a mission of my evening walk. ‘C’mon guys, can’t you see I’ve got places to be?’ was ticking through my mind, still in work mode, crossing off the to-do list. It was then music to my ears that Mongolian time very simply consists of before noon or afternoon. Ah bliss, I thought, I’d never be late again!
As we headed into the vastness of the Mongolian countryside, it was the calm that struck me the most. 360 degrees of breathtaking wilderness, and although I tried, I don’t think the camera can do it justice. An energy so old and powerful, pure and untouched, this place is simply magical. Collectively our group began to relax and laugh our way into truly soaking up this experience. (as well as working out all our remarkable 6 degrees of separation!) Even the breakdowns and delays were greeted with laughter, knowing the worst that could happen was that we set up camp in a different piece of paradise.
Over 3 days of journeying by plane, 4WD and horseback, we arrived at our destination, the Reindeer Tribes living on the Siberian steppe. We collectively gasped as we emerged from the forest to see the smoke coming from the first of the teepees. Like stepping through the Narnia door, we entered a different world, so surreal, and such an honour to be one of the few travellers allowed to visit each year. Yet thanks to the many years of rapport established by our guides, it felt like we were welcomed home, with freshly brewed tea and happy kids eager to play.
Living nomadically means that packing up all your earthly possessions (including satellite dish), riding 6 hours, and setting up camp at the next season’s residence, is all in a days work. Foraging and hunting for food, whilst surviving -40 degrees in the winter, these people are next level resilient (as well as the original minimalists). The Tsaachin are innately connected to the rhythms of nature as well as interconnected to each other. With a gentleness, humility and warmth that we seem to have lost. I hope the Tsaachin can sustain their lifestyle for generations to come, as we have so much to re-learn from their wisdom. Ah if only I could have paused time, stayed a while longer and asked another 1000 questions.
And so my memories of Mongolia linger fondly, with my wind horse (soul) happy, hoping that one day I’ll return to fill my cup with Mongolia’s calm once more. Thank-you Lisa, Tulga and your phenomenal team for creating an atmosphere as magical as your country. (and Puujee, how you created 3 course meals for the 10 of us each day on a camp stove, was flippin’ amazing!) .
Because positive impact travel grows our shared humanity, which grows compassion, which ultimately grows a more peaceful world.
And when in Mongolia, a polar plunge is a must isn’t it?