Honestly, Mongolia was probably my least favorite country.  But I think I am giving it a bad rep that it may not deserve so I should clarify.  I hated the capital, Ulan Bator, but I loved the countryside.  UB is a bleak collection of Soviet built buildings falling into disrepair, heavy pollution from factories, and a high crime rate.  I had two attempted bag snatchings in 4 days and I am not an easy target.  I could not wait to get out of the city.  But once I left it I found myself enjoying Mongolia.  A friend and I and a college student we hired as a translator spent some time staying with a nomad family in their two gers near the northern border (by Russia).  The family was wonderfully friendly, the countryside beautiful, and the horseback riding great fun.  If I were to do it again, I wouldn't be in UB for longer than it took to drive out of it.


A family and friends outside their ger in northern Mongolia

Riding lesson with father, in just a few years this boy will racing all over by himself

Boy about 18 months

Three year old girl

My friend Sarah gets a lesson in milking the cows from a grandmother.  It's harder than it looks and we managed to give them endless amusement while trying to figure it out.  I did end up getting good at shearing sheep though.

Riding all day over all types of terrain was great, wooden Mongolian saddles weren't.

The Parliament building in UB

National hero, Sukbataar

Village about 2 hours drive on a dirt road north of Darhan

Homestead in said village.  They had two gers, a veggie garden, a well, and even a TV on which we watched the Eagles play Hotel California while eating mutton

Me in a ger

Dinner hanging over the beds in the ger.  The family killed a sheep for us as guests.  The sheep tasted great
but unfortunately guests are offered first dibs on the innards as an honor.  Um, yum?