I was inspired to head to Mongolia by a friend who inspired me to do solo travels. His experiences and photographs made me want to experience them myself.
Why is Mongolia so interesting?
- The coldest capital city in the world is not in Canada or in Northern Europe but in Mongolia; it’s Ulaanbaatar!
- It used to move three times a year as it was a nomadic city!
- It is one of the top ten largest landlocked countries.
- Many dinosaur fossils still lie exposed.
- The two-humped camel comes from Mongolia.
- If you count carefully, you will notice slightly more horses than people.
- Genghis Khan!
Before I went to Mongolia, I was really stressed about several issues. I was alone and I’ve heard that you have to usually leave your name in hostels and wait for the numbers to gather before they would go out on a trip that you want to go. It is the first time I felt like traveling solo is expensive. I emailed several companies that bring people out on trips, and signed up on virtualtourist just to find some companions to lower the costs. No doubt, I was quoted high prices by some companies – 1350USD by Dreammongolia and 794 USD by Golden Gobi for about 6-8 days.
On top of that, I could not decide if I wanted to stay in a hostel or do couchsurfing but I send my requests out anyway. I was so thankful Minjin replied really fast. And so…I managed to get a host!!! Minjin came to pick me up at the airport and in my opinion, that was beyond a CS host’s responsibility. She was really sweet.
I spent some days in her summer cottage doing almost nothing but play with her kids who barely knew any English. My time spent in the cottages allowed me to experience the simple pleasures in life. It was really simple – no showering facilities or water system as they were still building and furnishing the cottages. They have a beautiful apartment back in the city but they were genuinely happy to be at the cottages instead.
Minjin’s brother and husband, Г. Билгүүн brought us out on tours. I paid for it, but its really way cheaper than the prices quoted to me outside, about 200USD for a week – ALL MY PROBLEMS SOLVED. She runs a tour agency and our trips were customised for us, according to what we wanted to do, different from all the other companies in Ulaanbaatar.
I was not completely alone as there was another couchsurfer at Minjin’s place. Simona was someone who took care of me, made me laugh so much, taught me how to pick wild flowers to make flower headbands, assured me that pickles taste amazing and explained to me about Compostela. She is someone I would always remember. I do hope that we would meet somewhere else in the world again! 🙂
We also had a chance to stay with the nomadic family! I had a really great experience although it was just a few days. There was a bigggg communication barrier but we still had great conversations thanks to Erdene! We rode horses during sunset, watched the sheep and horses return home in the evening, milked the cows in the morning, had fresh cow and goat milk, traditional Mongolian milk vodka, watched a sky full of stars outside our gers, had midnight astronomy lessons and pooped in the wild. I loved every single bit of these experiences. I felt like I was living in a beautiful painting.
I am extremely thankful for Minjin and her family. They shared their home generously with all the couchsurfers and made us feel like home too. Are you able to fully experience Mongolia if you drive on your own? I really doubt so, its much better to have local people with you. I’m lucky to have met amazing ones.
Minjin is currently running a guesthouse in Ulaanbaatar named Taiga Guesthouse. 🙂
Here is the link to her website: Itravel.mn
Blogger link below
Life inside a painting-Mongolia