Wandering around the Grasslands of Mongolia
What comes to your mind when you hear the word Mongolia? Do you immediately think of the Gobi Desert? That is certainly a large part of Mongolia. The Gobi is a vast area in the southern part of the country, but that’s not the whole of Mongolia.
You might think of nomads. And you’d be right again. Nomads constitute 40% of Mongolia’s population of 2.6 million.
What might surprise you is that 70% of Mongolian nomads now have solar power. Mongolia has plenty of sun, and the government has undertaken a huge project to install portable solar systems for the gers of nomads. Having electricity helps with food storage during warm months, but it also means they can watch television. What programs do you think they’re able to get so far from a city?
But even more important, nomads no longer have to make the long trek to the nearest city in order to charge their cell phones.
Maybe the name Mongolia also brings to mind an image of Genghis Khan on his horse galloping across grassy plains with mountains in the background. If this is the picture that comes to mind, you would be correct as well. On the way from Ulaan Bataar to the ancient capital Karakorum, the view is exactly that. Genghis Khan isn’t there, but you can see lots of wild horses and even wild camels.
Had you ever heard the word Karakorum before? It might have some kind of vague familiarity, but you just can’t remember where you could possibly have heard it.
Actually, Karakorum was the ancient capital of Mongolia. Genghis Khan dreamed that Karakorum would be the capital of his Mongolian empire, but his grandson Kublai Khan later moved the capital to Beijing. Even so, Karakorum played an important role during Silk Road days, but today it’s only an ancient ruin.
You may not find any direct flights to Mongolia’s modern capital Ulaan Bataar, but adventurous travelers who love the outdoors and aren’t opposed to a few hardships have the opportunity to experience an adventure in a country that still follows ancient traditions – along with a few new ones!