Greetings from a country almost the size of the US, but with a population of just 3 million. NYC alone has a population of 9 million. From a country where the people are a gorgeous and exotic mix of Asian and European: the country is right between China and Russia and... that's basically what Mongolians look like. The girls are very sexy and beautiful; the men distinguished and charming.
Greetings from a country where half the cars have steering wheels on the left side of the car; and the other half, the right. A place where cows, horses, sheep, and dogs run free en masse. I mean: EN MASSE. Where Yurts are absolutely everywhere! Where mountains, rivers, plains, clear blue skies, and puffy white clouds abound in every direction. Where Mongolian cowboys can be seen herding cattle; where eagles soar; where Cyrillic is everywhere, but no Russian is spoken: it is all Mongolian!
Truly: this must be what the what the Wild West looked like back in the US. Upon landing, I found a driver who took me an hour away to Terelj--to what was the most wild and remote place I've seen in years. The drive over there reminded me of Iraq, but with mountains and grassy plains. I can see why Mongolia is compared to Switzerland: it IS that beautiful, and it reminded me of my years there. Funny: this place reminds me of Iraq, Seitzerland, and the Wild West--all at the same time! Haha! I also got to hold a HUGE golden eagle on my hand with a gauntlet. Wow. So heavy. So majestic!
In Terelj, I did what I came to do: gallop through the Mongol plains on horseback! I hadn't galloped in years! So fun! And so exhausting: cardio; legs; BUTT! It took me a moment to readjust to riding. I forgot that you have to basically standup when galloping and use your knees as springs. But once I did: giddiup! SO AMAZING! SO FAST! and.... so worth the expense of coming here for just one day. This memory will never die.
I had lunch in a yurt restaurant near the horse place (and the breathtaking Turtle Rock). I ended up talking to one guy in Chinese and when his father discovered I could speak Chinese, he invited me and his driver to sit with his group and we all had a nice lunch speaking Chinese. They too were on vacation here in Mongolia.
After riding, I went back to UB (which is what they call the city here) and found the hostel. I met up with this girl Odmaa at the famous State Department Store. She is Mongolian and studied in Alabama for a year. She helped me at the airport to tell the driver what I needed thanks to her language skills. So she met up with me and showed me around the store and helped me buy some souvenirs (and two Mongolian language books!) and then we had Cinnabon and pizza together afterwards.
I finally went back to my hostel, got ready for bed, and here I am now at 9:46 am at the airport (we finally arrived). Just about 24 hours after I arrived here.
It's truly amazing: This trip has only been two days. It is AMAZING what one can do in just two days. Truly amazing. AMAZING!
Next stop: Beijing! The Forbidden City!