- June 2, 2013
- 8 comments
- Posted by EdGraham
- Asia Travel, Destinations, Mongolia, Trans Siberian Railroad
What’s Your Favorite Country in the World?
One of the first things I’m asked when people find out I travel is, “what’s your favorite country?” Most travelers I know can’t answer this question, and I never could either. There’s far too much awesomeness out there to pick just one place.
And then I went to Mongolia.
Mongolia is my favorite country in the world.
What can I say, I’m a fan of weird.
I have quite literally no idea what’s going on in the scene above, which is of course why I took the picture. Is this street art? Is this a playground of some sort? Why is that man raising his fist at the poor dog? The whole thing is weird and different, and I love that (even though the statue itself makes me sad and uncomfortable.)
Look at that color just dripping from the sky. This shot is unedited, so you know it’s legit.
It’s not just the sky. Here’s a random, not particularly good shot from the train approaching Ulaanbaatar.
Okay, one more because I like colors.
I’m not gonna lie: Mongolia’s a little rough around the edges. That’s one of my favorite things about it.
I was randomly welcomed to Ulaanbaatar by a Maffia-looking, Genghis Khan sized man who insisted I feel his sizable forearms. What the hell, I figured, so I bought him and his group a round of vodka shots. He soon gave me his business card and offered his group’s assistance, “in case you run into any trouble.”
And that was how the first morning went.
Also, there’s this:
Well, nobody other than the 2.8 million people who live there. I suppose 2.8 million sounds like a lot… until you realize Mongolia checks in with a land area of about 600,000 square miles (about the same size as Alaska). More than half of those people live in the capitol city Ulaanbaatar. The other million or so have the entire country to themselves.
By comparison, Hong Kong’s 7 million people cram themselves into a cozy 426 square miles.
The Vodka’s actually good there
I hate Vodka, just hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll drink the stuff, and I’ll even pretend to like it out of sheer politeness. But I’ve hated every vodka I’ve ever tried except one: Mongolian Chinggis Khan Vodka. It’s amazing.
Don’t even think about the premium version; the cheap stuff is the only one worth trying.
It’s ridiculously cold
Cold weather doesn’t usually make peoples’ lists for top things they like about a place. It does for me. I love cold places because I’m fascinated by cold, and I have immense respect for the people who live in climates that make my home in Chicago seem like a t-shirt and shorts kind of place year round.
The average January daily high for Ulaanbaatar is -16°C. Let me say again that this is the average daily high. This is the warmest it ever gets at any point in the day. Most of the day is much colder. And since it’s the average high, half the time the temperature doesn’t even get to -16°C.
Pure, amazing, crazy cold.