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Asia » Mongolia » Khovd December 30th 2020

Had I not been asked to join a photography trip, I would not have gone to Bayan Olgi, the Western part of Mongolia bordering with Kazakhstan at the end of August last year. Getting the visa was without a drama as the Mongolian Embassy in Jakarta was thinly staffed. After much of persuasion, we managed to get our visa in time and left for Ulaanbataar, transiting in Hong Kong. It was great to be back at Ulaanbaatar as I could see the development progress in such a short time. I did recall there were not many tall buildings seen during my visit years ago, during which main roads had potholes. This time, the traffic was heavy, tall buildings sprang and roads were nicely paved. It was amazing to see how coal did to the economy. Mongolia ... read more
Eagle Hunter in Action
Eagle Hunter
Kardibek with his horse

Asia » Mongolia » Dornogovi December 31st 2019

I can feel the low-temperature decreasing as I climb up higher altitude. I stand still observing those amazing landscapes surround me and I continue to inhale the freshness air of -14 degrees while the sun illuminating my face. Oh Mother nature, where shall I begin to describe your beauty... Mongolia 2019.... read more
Mongolian's mountains in winter

Asia » Mongolia » Kharkorin November 24th 2019

Having the lowest population density of any country on Earth has always made Mongolia extremely appealing to Magdalena and me; this is the reason why when living in Newcastle we often chose to go hiking in the invariably empty Cheviots, the UK’s least visited national Park, as opposed to the much lovelier but also much busier Lake District. Every Mongolian square kilometre averages just 1.9 people, compare that to 274 people per km2 in the UK, 334 per km2 in Japan, which I now call home, and a thoroughly cosy 18,960 per km2 in list-topping Monaco. A consequent highlight of Mongolia’s emptiness is that you can pick a direction and walk. You will see more wildlife than humans, more animal tracks than vehicle tracks, and hear more bird song and animal noises than mobile phone social ... read more
The 8 Lakes horsetrek in Orkhon Valley
The 8 Lakes horsetrek in Orkhon Valley
The 8 Lakes horsetrek in Orkhon Valley

Asia » Mongolia » Gobi Desert August 26th 2019

‘Actually the Gobi isn’t a desert at all’, says Chimeg, ‘it is a semi-desert.’ Chimeg is our guide. She will guide us during our one week trip across the Gobi desert. And she is right. The pictures you usually see make you believe that Gobi desert consists of sand dunes. That is misleading. The sand dunes are only a little part of the Gobi desert. Very photogenic indeed, but the Gobi is mainly a monotonous steppe, frightening even as you can easily lose your bearings. Sometimes you may even ask yourself what for you are here actually. Well, we come here to see the Flaming cliffs, the spot where Roy Chapman Andrews found his dinosaurs, to see the ancient rock carvings and the ice filled gorge at Yolin Am. These are the hotspots of the Gobi, ... read more
Near the old monastery at Baga Gazriin Chuluu
Ibex at Yoliin Am
Near the petroglyphs at Khavtsgait

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 25th 2019

Day 27 to 30 of 80 Footsteps of Chinggis Thursday we had booked ourselves a guided tour out of the city to reach a Chinggis (Ghenghis to us westerners) Khan monument and a National Park. We wanted to make a day of it so chose a tour with a couple of extras rather than a quick out and back. Just as well really. The route to the statue was about 65 km out of town. Regrettably, though, they are rebuilding the main highway in that direction so all traffic, both directions, is being diverted onto the roughest, unpaved, rutted, gravel track - a bit like the 2 border roads we encountered in Georgia /Armenia. But with 'rush hour' volumes of traffic, many of them treating the whole width of the road as a dirt race track. ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 25th 2019

Day 27 to 30 of 80 Footsteps of Chinggis Thursday we had booked ourselves a guided tour out of the city to reach a Chinggis (Ghenghis to us westerners) Khan monument and a National Park. We wanted to make a day of it so chose a tour with a couple of extras rather than a quick out and back. Just as well really. The route to the statue was about 65 km out of town. Regrettably, though, they are rebuilding the main highway in that direction so all traffic, both directions, is being diverted onto the roughest, unpaved, rutted, gravel track - a bit like the 2 border roads we encountered in Georgia /Armenia. But with 'rush hour' volumes of traffic, many of them treating the whole width of the road as a dirt race track. ... read more
Grand plans
World's biggest boot
Up close

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 21st 2019

Day 24 to 26 of 80 Small mild panic on Monday morning as we arrived early at the station to find our train not listed but train times either side of ours were. Unable to find an english speaking railway person, we started to wonder whether there was something up with our train. But a more thorough search of the station showed a side room listing the long-distance trains, including ours. Phew. Ulaanbaatar is around 500 km from Irkutsk, as the crow flies. Regrettably trains don't fly so by the time it has travelled 150 km from Irkutsk to reach Lake Baikal which is only 70km south, taking 3 hours in the process, and then overshot to past midway along the southern shore for a stop at Ulan-Ude, where the Trans-Mongolian splits off from the Trans-Siberian, ... read more
Baikal
Baikal circum-lake steam train
Mongolian graveyard

Asia » Mongolia » Khovd August 18th 2019

It takes one hour and 40 minutes with the plane from Ulaanbaatar tot Hovd. Hovd is a city in western Mongolia. When we arrive there is no taxi, no bus or whatsoever. Finally we find someone who takes us to the city. I ask how much we have to pay. The man begins to grin. ‘Nothing’, he says, ‘I just go in the same direction.’ Hitchhiking is normal in Mongolia. Our hotel is called Uurgu Hotel. A nice hotel with a good restaurant. But there is one problem. There is no electricity and because there is no electricity there is also no water. ‘It’s in all town and it will take a week’, says the receptionist. The Russians are repairing it.’ Electricity comes from Russia, from Irkoetsk, just North of Hovd. The relation between Mongolia and ... read more
Petroglyphs near Tsenkheriin Agui
Our tent and car
Throat singer Tserendawa

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 8th 2019

Last days Ulaanbaatar was completely empty. But now we know where all the cars are. They are here. On the road heading to Hustai National Park, about 100 kilometers west of Ulaanbaatar. Normally it is one and a half hour driving. Now it takes more than two hours. In the past Hustai was a hunting ground for the last Kahns. Later communist leaders came in for the same purpose. Nowadays hunting is strictly forbidden. The parc houses the last wild horses in the world. The Takhi as the Mongolians say (pronunciation like in technology). We call them Przewalski horses. After two and a half hours driving we turn left. Following a sandroad of 13 kilometers we arrive at the entrance. The tickets cost 25.000 tögrög each, which is about 8 Euro. In the visitors centre there ... read more
Hustai National Parc
Przewalski horses
Przewalski mare with foal.

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 5th 2019

The roads are completely empty when we drive from Chinggis Kahn Airport to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. ‘Why it is so empty’, I ask our taxidriver. ‘It’s because of Naadam’, she says. Naadam is the world famous Mongolian festival, full of horse racing, arching and fat men wrestling eachother to the ground. And ofcourse full of ceremonies and colourful exotic costumes. ‘Usually there are jams’, she says. Indeed several days later we’ll see the city in full action. So bad even that the smog takes my breath away. I’m told that it is even worse in winter, when the smoke of ger camps merge with the exhaust gasses of the cars. But now the air is clean. We are passing modern buildings, wide boulevards with six lanes, flanked by pine trees. Pine trees in the ... read more
Chinggis Kahn
The Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs was before the Lenin Centre
Tarbosaurus bataar at the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs




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