Mongolia is a place everyone should visit, maybe even more than once. It’s a crazy little country with 2.8 million people. More goats than people. We are going through a climate event right now which has caused huge rains in the Gobi Desert. The flocks keep growing and the goats become cashmere. The sheep become dinner.
But the people there live an amazing horse culture like many places in the world; I think there are more horses than sheep. The horses are beautiful. They race them and have all sorts of Mongolian rodeo tricks, like jumping from horse to horse 16 times in 20 seconds. They live for their horses.
They live in ger (yurts) which can go up and down in 45 minutes. They move with their flocks. But things are sadly changing. The Soviets decimated the culture, destroyed the Buddhist libraries and culture. They tried to make communal farms out of the desert. Their tentacles are still there; it’s really a ‘carry your own bag’ culture. The people are really lovely. Sleeping in a yurt with the family is something I really recommend; of course, the right yurt and the right family are important. When you bring a present, like a giant bottle of vodka and a keg of beer, you find out that the way Mongolians drink is they drink until it’s done.
The ger lifestyle is being taken over by permaculturalists inside the country. As it stands now, the lifestyle is incredibly sustainable. But it’s disappearing fast. They used to weave their own cloth, now they buy from China; they used to make their own ropes out of horse hair, now its polyester rope. And of course, every guy with 125 animals sells them to buy a car. And now you need money- for gasoline, for cloth, for rope, for the vet. There have been some strong climate events recently- a cold snap came through and killed a huge amount of animals recently.
If you have the opportunity to travel with a teenager, you know what a sand dune is for- a sand dune is for a photo shoot.