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    • Day 128

      Random observations in Mongolia

      July 16, 2019 in Mongolia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

      As we're about to leave the country, here are some random observations made on the way.

      Asphalted roads are often worse than driving off-road due to the potholes.
      If new, they can be super smooth as well though. You will only know once you drive on them.

      Flock of sheep, goats, cows, camels, yaks or horses are either roaming around alone or guarded by horse or motorbike. Very picturesque.

      Lots of people ride horses without a saddle.

      Traffic in Ulaan-Baatar is crazy. The city was built for 600000 people but now 1.3mio live there. Traffic is the worst reflection of this growth.

      People in UB get around with their own car, buses and most of them simply seem to hitchhike. You stand on the side of the road, hold your arm out and people stop. You then pay 1000MNT/km. Does this add to the traffic? Probably.

      Can you imagine not having running water in your house? Here water is distributed by water houses spread throughout villages and towns. It is usually collected in larger canisters and transported on wheels, in cars or simply carried back. Opening times vary, hence patience is required.

      We haven't really understood how ger families deal with their toilet business. In smaller villages we've come across "out houses" (wooden shacks with a hole in the ground) in the middle of streets, but no clue how it works in bigger towns or in the remote areas.

      Money is always handed over with two hands.

      The left side of a ger is the "visitor's side" while the right side is for the family.

      Mongolian men often sunbath their bellies. Seems fairly random, they're simply standing around and lift their shirts.

      Cheese is made in a fashion that doesn't require refrigeration. This way it can be carried around while travelling. We saw it on car dashboards and appearing out of trouser pockets. Once you're used to the rather raw and wild taste, it's a good match to homebaked bread.

      Mongolian supermarkets often offer products that were packaged in Germany (Gut&günstig Müsli and peanuts, Honey and much much more).

      In the Altai Mountains, we experienced four seasons in one day.

      There are hardly any trees. Whenever we saw some, we were super happy.

      Religious statues and stupas are very common. As are deceivingly real looking animal figures in the mountains.

      Mongolians seem to be very fond of music. Everyone who had a look at our car interior excitedly pointed to the guitar. Too bad it's not easy to take it out.

      We once parked next to a quiet road in a valley. Resulted in visitors at 1.30am, knocking to say hello. People usually were very interested but not intrusive.

      A map of the world helped us a lot explaining what we were up to. This way, we at least had something to "talk" about as we haven't managed to pick up enough of the Mongolian language to have a real conversation unfortunately.

      Paying by card is common even in small village shops. Don't rely on it completely though. It's always wise to have a bit of cash with you.

      Apart from the usual lemon option, there is "mango and peach" and "apple and cranberry" radler. Sweet but delicious!

      Cigarettes are crazily cheap. Less than 1€ for a packet!

      Supposedly an empty bottle of vodka is thrown as far as one can. Results in empty bottles everywhere, which can turn into a traffic hazard. Something to watch out for.

      Apart from the bottles, there are also bones everywhere. I've been equally fascinated and grossed out by jaws and hooves in particular.

      Mongolians are very extroverted. According to our experience, the remoteness of the country causes everybody to be super friendly, welcoming and helpful in any situation. Don't be shy to ask for help. It's common and readily provided. We even helped out a few times ourselves!

      This country has so much to offer, especially changing landscapes and interesting people. Take your time to explore it, it's worth it!
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