One of the best things about travel is how it breaks down barriers. People tend to be less reserved when they are on the road. We met Emily and Stefan over our love of bacon in a guesthouse in Mongolia. Within half an hour of chatting we decided to go and visit Gorkhi Terelj National Park together.
Gorkhi Terelj National Park is the closest park to Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar. It is one of the only parks in Mongolia that you can visit without the need of a driver and guide. We arrived early one Monday morning to the ger camp we booked and quickly dumped our backpacks and sleeping bags to go out and explore. Like most of Mongolia, the scenery in Gorkhi Terelj National Park is stunning. With hardly a building in sight, it made taking landscape photos a breeze.
What made Mongolia so special was its people. The Mongolians are a proud and fun race with a great sense of humour. On our second day in the park we walked to the nearest settlement to buy some more alcohol. (It was to keep warm! Honestly.) As we got nearer to the settlement we met a group of people on horseback. One of the group started chatting to us and declared that it was his birthday and that we should go and have a drink together to celebrate.
Even though it was 09:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning he managed to wake up the bar owner to open for us. Fast forward a few hours and many bottles of beer and shots of Mongolian Vodka later and we were still in the bar. The owner of the ger camp was so worried she drove out to see if we were okay! Oops.
It was one of the most memorable experiences we had on our big trip and it perfectly encapsulates the friendliness of the Mongolian people.
Religion was banned in Mongolia during Soviet times but has flourished since independence. Traditionally Mongolians practiced Shamanism and it is still widely practiced today. Tibetan Buddhism (also known as Vajrayana Buddhism) is also practiced in Mongolia. We came across these Tibetan prayer flags when we went on a horse ride near to our camp. We liked them so much we decided to put some up in our garden.
Have you been to Gorkhi Terelj National Park? What did you think of it?
If you liked this blog you may also like:
Steppe Back in Time in Mongolia: Read about our journey from Ulaanbaatar to the Gobi Desert. From drinking yak’s milk to seeing dinosaurs.
Magnificent Mongolia : Read about the 2nd leg of our journey from the Gobi desert to Ogii Lake. Pick up travel tips on Mongolia.