Tag Archives: mongolia

Enchanted by the Mongolian

Nomadic lifestyle caught my attention. After comfortably adopting a minimalist mindset a few years back, I started to like the idea of living my life more towards a nomadic mindset too.

Not that I wanted to pack my things and move from places to places … hmmm not yet I guess… but I sense (acewah! boleh plak sense lol) that with a nomadic mindset I could explore more in life.

And being able to experience living with a real life nomads in Mongolia even just for a few days was a nourishing moment for me. Approximately half of the Mongolian’s population is still leading a nomadic lifestyle, rearing their livestock freely throughout the entire Mongolian’s land.

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Origil lives in Terelj National Park, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

They live in gers, a big comfortable tent like moveable home and moves from a campsite to another for at least 4 times a year in search for the best place to rear their livestock and to protect themselves from the harsh climate especially during winter.

Living in ger would free them from the need to attend to house rentals or bank mortgages, a great step out of any financial burden.

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A family that we met in front of a Shrine near Ulaan Baatar

My first time in Mongolia … and my first experience with anything about Mongolian culture. The food … the people … the culture … the harsh winter, everything was totally new to me.

Our local guide, Alma had everything properly figured out for us in advance and we were like an empty shell that willingly waited to be filled with whatever Mongolian adventures by her.

The cold winter didn’t stop us from our quest to explore. There was one time when we were kinda lost in the middle of nowhere in an unfamiliar valley as the snow was quite thick that it covered the road trail (just some tire marks along a wide plain) … wow!  it was like surrendering yourself totally to Alma and Oyunna (our driver) and depending totally on her experience and her guts feeling.

Well … it was a very raw adventure for us … not complaining at all.

I will share a few photos of people that we met along our 8 days journey here in Ulaan Baator, Mongolia. Looking back at these photos … remind me of their warm hospitality and all the funny moments that we had experienced while trying so hard to blend in with their culture.

We stayed for two (2) days at Janat’s home, a kazakh Mongolian family. Watching him and his son Bota tendering their herd every morning and afternoon. Experiencing the nomadic life. Janat and his family members were super friendly. We even shared their everyday food too.

I tasted my first steamed horse meat and chewed on steamed cow testicle like a pro (just because I didn’t know that it was what it is). My first in everything … he he he

Living in a minimalist home in a ger … kinda cool too except that the toilet was sooo faaar aaawaayyyy … as in winter at lower than -17℃ with the strong icy wind chill, your mind refused to obey your bladder’s command.

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Grandma Dorjsuren with her daughter Enkhtuul (purple) and Oyunna (blue)

We stayed for a night with grandma Dorjsuren Dambiinyam and her hardworking daughter. To reach her place we have to travel for hours wandering on a roadless plain … towards a certain mountain he he he I was also lost track of our whereabout.

Grandma Dorjsuren looked like a reserve type of a person,  I could feel that she is quite a strict no hanky panky lady but her hug was so warm, it melts my heart. I like her … I think my soul like her very much.

Their gers were located hidden behind a small hill … but still, the sub-zero chilling wind was so strong that it shook our ger for the whole night. Oh well … I was tough like a nail stuck in a wall!

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Grandma’s home

We stayed for another one night at Grandpa Bor (80s) and Grandma Yandag (70s). The route towards his valley was very challenging as it was snowy and the plain was totally white covered by the thick snow.

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Grandpa Bor with his livestock

He claimed that at one time he owned 1000 goats and sheep before he distributed some to his children. Goats and sheep in extremely cold weather are of different species compared to the one in my tropical country.

When I showed him our goats species like Jamnapari, Boer and Saanen, he was so engrossed with it. He laughed so hard when he saw that most of our goats have long ears. Despite our language barrier, this man never failed to make me laugh with his weird joke … yeah weird because each time I have to take at least 5 minutes to digest his joke lol. Uhh … I can smell his sincerity.

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On our way to Grandpa Bor’s home. Oyunna manually changed the tire setting to 4×4

Hmmm … observing their nomadic lifestyle and listening to their stories on how they cope with the hurdles of shifting from one campsite to another makes me wonder again about how resilient they were towards the unpredictable life.

Having the opportunity to change their surroundings at least 4 times a year made them more flexible with life. I have respect for them …

And, being a nomad doesn’t mean that they are totally disconnected from the society. They are as alive as every human I met across the globe. They are fully equipped with all basic modern materials … solar electricity to power their electrical appliances, cars and trucks to transport them around.

Yeah … maybe I should learn more about this nomadic mentality and add it onto my minimalist lifestyle, use it to strengthen my self-mental so that I would be more resilient towards the hurdles in my life.

Looking back at these photos makes me yearn for my next adventure … I am still not sure where would I be heading to next. Probably a short weekend trip to Mt Bromo in Surabaya, Indonesia to observe the upcoming Kasada festival. In Sha Allah ….

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At the 10th Eagle Hunter festival in Ulan Baator

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return” ~ Maya Angelou

Cheers,

MM


A sub-zero journey

“If you want to catch a beast you don’t see every day. You have to go places quite out of the way. You have to go places no others can get to. You have to get cold and you have to get wet, too” ~ Dr. Seuss

Love … love .. love that quote by Dr. Seuss about hunting for beast at the most difficult and isolated place. A place where I should get wet and cold. In fact, the place that I went to was far beyond cold but freezing below sub-zero type of icy cold.

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We travel in 3 … Areza Mansor, Azli Wahab and me

I haven’t been to either North or South pole yet …so I am not sure how to compare the difference, but I was informed that here in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia -36℃ during winter is just normal. It’s darn cold enough for a tropical girl like me.

For almost 2 years, I have been wanted to explore Mongolia but friends kept on telling me that traveling there is difficult and expensive.

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Rashaant Village, Bulgan province, Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia

Early this year (2017), out of the blues I posted about Eagle Hunters of the Kazakh people of Mongolia on my FB timeline and my trekker friend (I met during my last trip) invited me to tag along with his backpacking trip from China- Mongolia- Russia- Europe trip. They planned to explore Mongolia and Russia via Trans-Siberian Railway. I decided to join only for the half of the trip (15 days) covering only Mongolia and Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia.

After all … I always wanted to explore Lake Baikal too.

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Shuvuun Am, Valley, Altan Bulag village, Tuv province, Mongolia

The 3 of us started our journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing via flight, took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulan Baator, Mongolia and continue to Russia.

My travel companions during that time around were gifts from heaven … my first time traveling with them but the understanding and tolerance between us were excellent, we wickedly clicked! A blessed again … alhamdullilah and I have no complaints.

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Resting time before lunch at Lake Baikal, I miss this moment

Some people loved to travel alone and some just couldn’t.

As I traveled along this trip, I realized that I don’t prefer to travel alone … having good companions while traveling especially when you were stuck on a train for days and when you were traveling in hard places like this was a blessing.

So … we spent 27 hours on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulan Baator (rm1340). Explored Ulan Baator and its surrounding in 8 days and continued the journey again to Irkutsk, Southeast Siberia via Trans-Siberian Railway from Ulan Baator to Irkutsk (35 hours for approximately rm822).

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Every day means of transportation here in Lake Baikal

Reached Irkutsk train station at a wee hour, grab a car (200 rubles/ 500 rubles)  in front of the station heading to Irkutsk bus station and tried to catch an early bus to Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal, Russia. Never thought that it would be this easy though.

The 10.00am bus to Olkhon Island was right across the road in front of the bus station (800 rubles per person/ 1100 rubles per person). The arrangement was quite easy but language barrier seemed to be the major problem as English language was like an alien language here at this side of Russia. (actual cost/ ripped off cost)

We stayed for 4 days in Lake Baikal exploring North (800 rubles) and South (1000 rubles) sides of the frozen lake. When we were there, the weather was a bit disturbing. It snow heavily a few days earlier and most of the frozen surface was covered with snow.

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Lake Baikal the frozen lake

We booked our accommodations via online and decided to go easy with our transportation arrangement as booking for transportation through the internet was quite expensive. We stayed in shared hostel in Olkhlon Island and discovered that arranging for transportation to and from the Island was surprisingly very convenient.

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Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia, Russia

We took a public bus on our way back from Olkhlon Island to Irkutsk for 800 rubles per person and grab a car from bus station to our hostel, which turned out that it was just a few km away (200 rubles/ 500 rubles) lol. Well … opportunist is everywhere and things just happened.

We spent a day wandering around Irkutsk… an industrial city but in winter, there was nothing much to see. I would probably come again one day and wander around interesting places in Russia too. Who knows … right?

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My article in NST click! sharing tips on taking photographs in extreme cold

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Us in 3 at Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia, Russia

Traveling as a true traveler (not a touch and go tourist) matures me but I do understand that not everybody is built for an extreme adventure like this. I admit it was tough especially when we have such a comfortable and warm life at home … and for me, if you want to experience and learn more about life, you gotta step out of your comfort zone. I am currently doing it every day now …

Owhhh … am very sleepy, I need my power nap! gotta run … bye

Cheers,

MM