What’s Your Favorite Country in the World?

What’s Your Favorite Country in the World?

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.

Here’s why:

It’s weird

What can I say, I’m a fan of weird.

Weird Mongolia

?

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.)

 

It’s colorful

Look at that color just dripping from the sky. This shot is unedited, so you know it’s legit.

Colors of Mongolia

Mongolian colors

It’s not just the sky. Here’s a random, not particularly good shot from the train approaching Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolian Colors

Mongolian Colors as seen from the Trans Siberian Railway near Ulaanbaatar

Okay, one more because I like colors.

Mongolian Sunrise

Mongolian Sunrise

 

It’s edgy

I’m not gonna lie: Mongolia’s a little rough around the edges. That’s one of my favorite things about it.

Birds in Mongolia

In Mongolia

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:

Attention

Sign at the hostel

Fair enough.

 

Nobody’s there

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.

Hong Kong

This is what 7 million people looks like

Mongolia

This is what Mongolia looks like

 

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.

Chinngs Vodka

Chinngis Vodka

 

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.

October in Mongolia

October in Mongolia. The winter freeze hasn’t even begun.

 

What’s your favorite country in the world?

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Comments ( 8 )

  • Nomad Backpacker

    I really like the yurta photo! Contrats! I wish I could go in Mongolia soon!

  • Mohamed Mansour

    As much as I love leaving it and going off to travel, my favorite country in the world seems to be the United States: For some reason, I keep coming back here at the end of every trip.

    • Ed Graham

      Thanks for the comment Mohamed. Yeah the USA is great but I wish we’d learn that there really are some things other countries do better!

  • Andy

    you didn’t really mention the people. The people that you do meet in that barren land or even in Ulaanbaatar are special too. I think they’re a balance of all your said above, a bit edgy, oozing in colour, sometimes weird, they certainly like a drink!, but they were never cold.

    I love it and them too.

  • Thales

    Great article. I really want to visit Mongolia someday, seems so diferent and mysterious, idk why.
    I’m from Brazil, but I really like the Nordic countries (like Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, anyway).

  • Kirsta

    Chinggis Khan Vodka! When my Soviet-era minibus driver got lost in the steppes for 6 hours, we pulled out a bottle of that stuff and went to town. I’ve never been able to drink straight vodka before or since. It IS good! Haha.

    Favourite memory: going out for a horseback ride & riding past a goat tied to the fence. Coming back from said ride…no more goat. Guess what was for dinner?

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