Throughout this journey to the Mongolia Gobi Desert – I had so many thankful and grateful moments. Let me conclude some of the experiences and share some thoughts here.
Visiting a nomad family
I had initially thought that the nomad families we are going to are by choices of our tour company. On the contrary, it actually depends on the driver’s decision, because only they would know how to reach or contact the family to go to. And of course, a different driver may just go to a different family.
When we first entered the family ger, they would first serve an initial round of snacks and drinks. Afterwards, you are supposed to be comfortable and feel at ease enough to help yourself to more if needed. Unuruu would tell me to lay on their bed and rest if I felt tired, while we were in the host’s ger. But of course, I didn’t start rolling in their beds haha, but I did help myself to more tea and snacks.
The nomads are very hardy and self-reliant, and always ready to lend a hand to their neighbours which may be like at least 5km away. Everyone knew each other, they are an open and tightly knitted community. Unuruu shared that in the past they would leave their home gers unlocked. Any visitor could just come in and help themselves to whatever they need. But of course, times had changed, and most would now prefer to lock their gers.
For most of the families I had visited, the hosts were already grandparents and their children/grandchildren would mostly reside in the town/city for work, and would only return to visit during their vacation. It hung on my mind if their nomadic lifestyle would eventually be a dying culture? Would the newer generations want to take up the hardship of herders? Unuruu did share that some may eventually sell away their gers and livestocks if they had no one to take over it.
To my awesome guide and driver
Unuruu, my awesome multi-role all-in-one guide!
I couldn’t ask for a better guide! I love my guide! Unuruu is like an all-in-one bundle: a guide, chef, translator, motivator, karaoke buddy, travel companion, and a big sister! She is such a sincere and enjoyable person to be with, always very reassuring, and took really great care of me!
She made all the funny moments we had, and I definitely haven’t cracked up so much in such a long while. From the ice breaking karate, shadow dancing, cheekily pranking me at the Saxaul tree, woahh-woo-woahh-ing away together of “当 (Dang – My Fair Princess)”, victory dancing around with that estranged water bottle at the sand dunes – all became my very treasured memories.
Not to forget my spookiest-sleepless night with her. It became such a hilarious memory that we shared afterwards. (Please scare other travellers too, don’t save it just for me hahahaha)
This trip had became truly memorable because of her. I don’t think I can find another better guide-buddy for my mongolian travels. I actually didn’t feel like I was travelling with a tour guide, but with an old friend! Can I be glad that she left her teaching job to become a tour guide such that we met here?!
Erka, our mongolian big brother!
Honestly, I find him a little intimidating when we first met since he doesn’t smile much. Then while in the minivan he would laugh in his scary-maybe-menacing laughter when he chats with Unuruu. But that was my first impression. I threw that away afterwards.
I concluded that maybe he doesn’t have smiling-muscles, but laughing muscles, yes, as he would laugh ever so generously in his
menacing big hearty laughter. Oh look what I found here – him in big smiles:
We warmed up after the stay with Olziibat and Aruinaa’s, especially after when he took care of me when I was unwell. We didn’t chat much due to language differences, but we did figured out how to interact. Erka is a big-hearted and warm person. He takes care of people in his own way – he won’t nag at you to do the right things, he will just do the right thing for you.
A big brother, truly. Tiim!
His interactions with the families has also been fascinating to watch: totally comfortable to lie in the houseman’s bed with socks or shoes on, help himself to the houseman’s snuff bottle, offer a cigarette to the family to smoke together, chat and laugh away unreservedly. He is genuinely a son or brother to the families we had visited.
Btw, he makes mongolian food looks so delicious by the way he eats – I really think he should do a mukbang hahaha!
Baara and Scott from Beyond Expedition
I am so thankful to have met Baara and his family, at the beginning and the last of my stay in Mongolia. They had been so gracious and warm when we met, also showing me their way of interaction and affection towards their family. And my thanks to Baara, for always keeping tabs on me, and for that last get-together dinner before farewells!
Last but not least, my heartfelt thanks to Scott, the frontlane personality at Beyond Expedition, who had been my primary point-of-contact for the entire journey. He had been so helpful, always giving prompt replies to my bombarding questions and dilemmas I had thrown out for this last-minute trip. It seems that he does 24/7 support lawls~
Throughout October 2022, I had a hard time deciding what I had wanted to do while I am still on a career break. But I knew that I definitely needed 1 more trip before returning to reality from my hiatus. Maybe sightseeing? Adventure? Indulging in a different culture and customs? Getting out of comfort zone? Mongolia ticked all boxes.
This journey had been a real eye-opening refresher. I loved the experiences, but I will definitely miss more of the people that I had met. 🙂
Mongolia, I will definitely be back again.
I feel like ending with this song is most appropriate – it’s been stuck on my mind ever since I returned