When someone asks me “how is Mongolia?”, unfortunately, I cannot answer.
After a surprising month in Russia, in fact, I came in together with the first cold and early winter.
My two weeks in Mongolia were not valleys, lakes, amazing stars, nomadic welcomes and millennial silences, but snow, chaos, traffic, smog, boredom and anxiety for the Chinese Visa which was just a big trouble.
So my Mongolia, at the end, was 11 difficult days in Ulaanbaatar – one of the most terrifying cities I’ve ever met on my way – and two more “escape-days” in Terelj Park, where I had a preview of all the immense splendor of Great Mongolia which … I would have only imagined.
3 October, Ulan Ude (Russia) – Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Day 124 🇷🇺 – 🇲🇳
Snow on the passes.
Everlasting controls at the Russian – Mongolian border; at least 6 grey different looks at my passport.
A bus that 30 km far away from Ulaanbaatar decides to got punctured,
raising up the journey from 12 to 15 hours.
Semi-burglars instead of taxi drivers, with whom it almost comes to a fight.
A sort of “escape” in a dark and busy city, only to reach my hostel.
Basically, entering Mongolia was not smooth and easy at all.
Creative, for sure.
Something of my karma perhaps says that it is really time to give myself a shave.
4 October, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Day 125 🇲🇳
Transitory and useless day.
It is holiday in China, so I cannot get the info I need about the visa.
Plus it seems that it is not easy at all to get it from here, for a foreigner.
Unforeseen difficulties, out of a sudden. Feeling really uncertain about my journey, for the first time.
Tonight, snow arrived in this grey and lonesome city. A white coating on my melancholy and solitary thoughts.
Those kind of moments which strengthen the personality, they say.
So let it be!
Genghis Khan, help me.
5 October, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Day 126 🇲🇳
All human beings are perfect, for everyone of them was born as a child.
The problem is that, sooner or later, they all grow and, somehow, they forget about it.
A vain search for perfection may last an entire life.
So never stop listening to the kid inside of you, cause only there you may find it … the real, pure, perfection.
6 October, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Day 127 🇲🇳
What do you do when you’re in Ulaanbaatar, the Chinese embassy is still closed for holidays and you don’t know how to spend your time?
Simple. You take your bicycle, go to the mountains until you can get, then you lock the bicycle and start hiking, until you can get, then you put the earphones in your ears, listen to music and start singing Audioslave and Ed Sheeran, looking down, from where you came.
Then, after a while, you go back.
Ulaanbaatar is rich with poetic and legendary heroes, traffic and noises,
shady and illegible figures, grey and smog, thin shadows and sharp smiles.
Either you go walking or with a bicycle, you can chance upon any kind of persons,
with any kind of social heritages and background, and any kind of dreams and expectations.
As, for example, the Cow and the Esteemed.
9 October, Terelj Park (Mongolia) | Day 128 🇲🇳 (*TWO DAYS AGO*)
I disappeared for two days, and now I’ll explain you why.
After 4 nights in Ulaanbaatar, a pseudo-modern city with a few notable attractions and an uncontrolled chaos, stuck here waiting for the Chinese Embassy to re-open (tomorrow, on Monday, after one Holiday-week) and to understand if there is a way to obtain a visa or not, the weekend arrived.
About 70 km away from Ulaanbaatar there is a National Park, called Terelj, where anyone with limited time and money (multi-day tours in the desert are off-limits for me, though they may be absolutely wonderful) has the possibility to have a taste of what real wild Mongolia is: mountains, arid valleys, typical Gers, nomadic families, bonfires, few comforts, horses, camels … and breathtaking beauty (I was told).
So I decided to leave the city, at least for two days.
Internet obviously did not exist, but it wasn’t a big problem at all.
Disappearing, sometimes, can be good.
Two days ago, on a cold afternoon, I took a local bus, which after about 2 hours left me in a village, at the entrance of a hidden valley, where I started pedaling – following some paper signs the owner of my hostel drew for me – to the famous Turtle Rock and then, from there, towards the North, looking for a cheap and at the same time typical “Ger Camp”, known to locals as Mungut Tsokhio.
10 km on the pedals. Only.
Well, yes, nothing epic.
But among the dirt roads filled with stones and holes, those -5° I met at 7 pm, the looming dark above the impervious nature of an incomprehensible country, the low clouds and the snow ambushing me, suddenly I found myself shouting out a “Hey, Vieri! What the f*** are you doing! Move your a** out of here cause I don’t know where those howls in the distance are coming from!”, which was spent loudly and that could hardly tend to something good.
So Terelj National Park welcomed me like that, as I tried to describe here and to show in this photo.
I would have found it out the next day.
10 October, Terelj Park (Mongolia) | Day 129 🇲🇳 – VIDEO (*TWO DAYS AGO*)
Waking up in a Ger, i -10° … and Mongolian mountains.
Two nights and only one full day in the Mongolian lands, but a day full of:
– awakenings between ice and snow
– pedaling and falling in the middle of lonely landscapes
– wild dogs, stocky horses and lazy camels
– basketball playing with kids somewhere in the arid steppe
– smiles and curious glances of the nomads
– aged-animal rocks
– steps and Buddhist proverbs
– prayer wheels and swastikas of ancestral energies
– mutton noodles and boiled bread
– bonfires and frost in a Ger
– religious silence and unearthly naps
– superb valleys and unforgettable colors
– total serenity and dreams crossing
I just hit him with a snowball.
Or maybe he did it … I don’t remember.
“Helouuu! Can we go party now?”
10 October, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Day 131 🇲🇳
After a long crazy day at the Chinese Embassy …
Here’s to Cheating, Stealing, Fighting and Drinking.
If you Cheat, may you Cheat death.
If you Steal, may you Steal a woman’s heart.
If you Fight, may you Fight for a brother.
And if you Drink, may you Drink with me.
14 October, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Day 135 🇲🇳 – VIDEO
15 Ottobre, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) | Giorno 136 🇲🇳
So thank you Mongolia for your precious days and this beautiful farewell dance.
It’s been quite hard to stay mostly just in Ulaanbaatar, but I had
too much great time in Russia to come here in the right season.
I’m pretty sure someday I’ll come back again to visit some
of your incredible wild countryside, and I’ll be not alone.
But now it’s time to move on, another land is waiting for me.
Now it comes China!
KM on BICYCLE: 90
KM on AUTOBUS: 480
KM on TRAIN: 660
NIGHTS in HOSTEL: 12
NIGHTS in HOSPITALITY: 0
NIGHTS in TRAIN: 1
EXPENSES: 395 €
“GOOD DAY”: “Sain baina uu”
“THANK YOU”: “Bayarllaa”