This is a little late- I left Mongolia 18 days ago, but better late than never!
I feel like I don’t really need to write a final blog from Mongolia because most of you know I really enjoyed my time there, but I feel like I need to close that chapter before I can begin the next one.
Even though I had always wanted to go to Mongolia, the reality was, I didn’t know much about it. It’s the least densely populated country in the world, sandwich between China and Russia, two major powers, both of which played a huge role in the history of the land. The Mongolian empire itself got very large around the time of Chinngis Khaan, but the history of Mongolia is very complex, so instead of trying to blog about it, I’ll let you do your own research! All in all, the Mongolians don’t like China. There’s more of a South Korean influence in the country than from their neighbors to the south. At a quick glance, it seems relations with Russia are positive, but as I’ve learned more and more about what the Soviets did in Mongolia, I’d be willing to bet money that some of the older generation would tell you otherwise.
Mongolia established independence from China in 1921 and the ruler during that time, Bogd Khaan, died in 1924. It was then, that according to the National Museum, Mongolia, was the second county in the world to adopt Communism. Fast forward to 1937 when all religious practices were abolished during the communist purges. Most of the country’s temples were destroyed and many monks were executed. It was only after the fall of communism that many temples were rebuilt. Mongolia experienced so many grim pages in their history it’s shocking.
It was also fascinating to learn about a culture so different as well. The notion of nomadism… And while there aren’t as many as there used to be, you do see many gers once you leave the city and smaller towns. Most people only move twice a year, they have their summer and winter camps and they take their animals where there is adequate amounts of food. In the winter, they seek protection from the harsh cold weather.
It is definitely an interesting place, one that few people consider when making travel plans, likely a place few people even think about at all. If you do visit, however, you won’t be disappointed. Mongolia is beautiful, and tell me, what other country in the world has reindeer and camels? None. That alone is cool enough!! So as always, it’s sad to leave a place, and I won’t lie, I had tears in my eyes as the plane lifted off of the green turf like landscape below me. “Bye Mongolia,” I said, but I was excited for my next adventure and destination: Nepal!