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Motorized Horse Herder

Even though I took this photo roughly five years ago, I'm just getting around to posting it now. Mongolia was a short side-trip for me at the time, and I never spent the amount of time this beautiful country truly deserves. When I think back about countries who are filled with natural beauty, Mongolia is always near the top of that list.

This scene is just so surreal. We had stopped in some small town, and next thing I know I see a car HERDING horses across the steppe. Practical or bizarre, it really happened! You just never know what surprises you'll find when traveling in another country.

Check out the blog post for video: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/6/2/motorized-horse-herder

#tov #mongolia #landscape #horses #car #herding #travel #photography #surreal #canon #asia #transport #village #town #adventure #travelphotography #몽골
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Mongolian Road Trip

Mongolia is one of those countries where, you generally need a guide. Perhaps if you can speak Russian, you can get away without one, but unless you're miraculously conversant in Mongolian, the trip is going to be way more pleasant with a local guide.

Roughly 175 miles west of Ulaan Baatar, this is one of the few paved roads outside the capital. If linguistic navigation is one challenge, actual road navigation is a whole different story. I never managed to spot an actual sign listing the speed limit, and this is actually one of the only road signs I probably ever saw on the whole trip. If a confluence of multiple parallel and crisscrossing mud and dirt roads sounds like something that's right up your ally, you'll do fine with a GPS and your Russian linguistic skills. Otherwise, make that driver and guide which you'll be needing for your journey.

Don't let this discourage you, for the country is absolutely beautiful. Many pristine and unspoilt natural lands, which may actually seem a bit spoiled due to the ridiculous number of heads of cattle that graze and roam the lands. Still, when beauty, nature and adventure combine, you're in for a travel treat!

Blogged: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/3/24/mongolian-road-trip

#mongolia   #bulgan   #HDR   #roadtrip   #landscape   #travel   #photography   #road   #pavement   #canon   #teamcanon   #asia   #storm   #clouds   #ger   #yurt   #nature   #adventure   #explore   #hdrphotography   #landscapephotography   #travelphotography   #몽골  
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Stay By My Side

Driving through Hustai National Park, home to the last remaining truly wild horse, the Takhi (Przewalski horse). At 50,600 ha of land, it's a sizable chunk of land set aside to preserve and foster this endangered animal.

As is typical in Mongolia, the steppe is vast and green. Even though traffic isn't an issue here, there's always several sets of dirt road tracks next to each other.
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Mongolian Service Station

It's pretty hard nowadays to even fathom that if a mechanic needs to work on your car, they don't just use a hydraulic lift to raise your car and work on it. I know I was surprised to see this, but it totally makes sense. I've come across similar setups in other developing countries as well since. Straightforward, practical and cheap.

While there are some paved roads in Mongolia, much of the country is unpaved, and you don't even get the luxury of gravel roads. Much of the distance covered was on dirt roads that had turned into muddy roads with days of rain. If you're traveling over that kind of terrain, it's only a matter of time before you get a flat or have some other type of problem. Generally pretty often.

I don't recall the issue anymore with our vehicle, but we had to stop in this tiny sumu to get some repairs done. There wasn't much to explore, but I was entertained by some of the neighborhood dogs that seemed to be solving their own problem after two dogs got "stuck" in what seemed like a mating ritual gone awry.
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Bovine Encounters

Humans in Mongolia are vastly outnumbered by heads of cattle. It's not even a close race. With the numbers in cattle's favor, you're bound to run into some grazing animals almost anywhere you go.

Staying at a Ger hotel? Likely to come across some cattle being herded somewhere. Or in this case, visiting the Erdene Zuu monastery. Taking a walk towards the back of the monastery and all of a sudden, whoa, where did all this cattle come from?
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The Fire In The Sky

I know what you're thinking, there's no way that sky is real, but I assure you it is. The sunset really lit up the sky in the most unexpected of ways. Everywhere I went in Mongolia, I was really impressed by the pure, natural beauty of the country.

The gers are part of a Mongolian hotel I was staying in. These traditional hotels seemed to be pretty common and was where I spent my nights. There's no private bathroom though, which wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't raining and muddy throughout the duration of my trip. You will end up smelling a bit smoky as you do need to burn firewood to keep warm at night, but that's a small price to pay to enjoy being a bit closer to nature.
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Rainbow Over Mongolian Gers

When in Rome....or in this case, the middle of nowhere, Mongolia, you're going to be staying in a ger. I found the experience both troublesome and delightful. I wasn't the best at figuring out how much wood to throw into the fireplace to keep the ger warm. There's a bit of a balancing act between heating it up and turning it into a sauna. However, the experience of staying in a bit more simpler set up, the way many Mongolians still live today, was refreshing and exciting compared to another major chain hotel.

It was raining a lot while I was in Mongolia, but on the up side, it meant a rainbow appeared above this hotel. Well, maybe hotel is not the right word to use, but hotels in Mongolia are often a collection of gers set up to host tourists. In most of the places I went, I didn't see too many foreigners, which helps up the cultural immersion level.
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Mongolian Monastery

One of the buildings on the grounds of the Tuvkhun Monastery. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Mongolia, dating back to 1648. While it has been destroyed and rebuilt throughout its history, with the most recent restoration in 1997, it looks much older. The paint has aged and faded unevenly throughout the fences and walls of the buildings.

This hermitage is located inside the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite this designation, it would appear that it doesn't get a lot of visitors - or perhaps it was just due to the rain that day. Mongolia is one of those countries that is just filled with natural beauty that I hope to make it back to someday for a longer trip.
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Traveling Through The Mongolian Countryside

Navigating the dirt roads of Mongolia hearkens back to a day when people would pull out giant atlases and figure out how they're going to get from point A to point B. While I had a driver so I didn't have to worry about navigation, it remained a bit puzzling to me as signs were not in great abundance and dirt roads would run parallel or criss-cross each other at random it seemed.

Being in such a desolate, yet green and beautiful environment, I never knew what to expect. The skies were so blue, the rolling steppe so vast. Would we come across a horde of barbaric raiders armed with swords and spears, riding on horseback? "We've detected a weakness in the great Chinese walls to the south!"

No, it would seem I managed to avoid any such dire situations which I concocted in my head. More likely was the occasional motorcycle zipping by. With one of the lowest population densities in the world, this great and beautiful land was free of distractions enabling photographic opportunities all over.
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Keeping The Ger Nice And Toasty

This white structure is a ger, the typical Mongolian dwelling used by the people typically living a nomadic lifestyle. It's relatively easy to take down, transport and put back up. The real challenge, at least for me, was keeping it properly warm at night.

Mongolia is known for having one of the bigger swings in temperature between day and night. All the hotel-gers I stayed in were equipped with a wood burning furnace. You really have to find the right balance to maintain the fire throughout the night.

Growing up a comfortable, climate controlled life, this was a bit new to me. When you get the fire going, the whole ger heats up pretty quickly and you have to open the door to let the excess heat out (I'm probably doing it wrong), but it then settles down and the smoke is directed through a simple pipe chimney out of the center of the ger.

The first night, I put some fire on and the ger got quite toasty quite quickly, I opened the door and it eventually reached a comfortable temperature and I could keep the door closed - all the better since it was raining every night I happened to be in Mongolia. However, I badly misjudged the amount of firewood needed on the fire, and woke up at like 3:30-4:00am super cold! And I couldn't start the fire back.

The next night I managed a bit better. In general, it's all about getting the base fire going, and stacking the wood appropriately so that there will be enough wood to burn through the night and keep you warm. For the most part this was fine, but the first night was just some tough learning for me.
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