Today I visit Karakorum, more breathtaking views of Mongolia, and have a rising concern about the pile of plastic in the countryside. Another day discovering central Asia.
Waking up in a Ger (that’s what they call a Yurt here) in the late days of September includes the feeling of cold. The “bed” had enough blankets not to feel the cold, but as soon as I try to get a foot out, I can feel the freezing cold. My guide, not being much braver than me at that point, plays to be still asleep. So our driver gets up and starts the fire. A couple of minutes later, the hardest part of that biting cold is gone.
Another day on the road, and we’re now about a thousand kilometers away from Ulan Bator. The one thing that does not change, however, is the amount of plastic & litter that surrounds the roads. No matter what state the roads are in, there are tons (literally) of plastic next to it. Mongolia can have the best views in the world, but it’s also a big garbage belt.
Nomads used to throw things away when they moved four times per year, and that worked fine when that was vegetables and animal rests. These days they bring plastic bottles and bags and discard of them where they leave the camp.
Our next stop is the old capital of Mongolia. Karakorum, a walled city, with some of the original structures still in it. When I arrive at the temple, a ceremony is ongoing. I love the energy that goes out from it, but don’t dare to walk in. I don’t want to be the ignorant tourist. Time to find the space to learn even more about Buddhism. Walking here is strolling in an amazing part of history. This city was the capital of Mongolia from 1235 till 1260.
After we left Karakorum, it’s time to head for a sleeping place. The driver and the guide had arranged for us to stay with a family that has their ger set up in this area. After hours of driving, it turns out that the family is not where they expected it. We end up for the night in a local hotel. Well, that’s a nice name for a room upstairs from a small convenience store. The hardness of my sleeping places gets an all-time low (high?) when my bed turns out to be a wooden structure without any form of mattress in it. In a country that has so much good energy, I cannot waste any more time in frustration. The promise that we can stand on the volcano tomorrow at sunrise, makes it ok for me. A Snickers bar as dinner, and off to “bed”…
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.