Unexpected return

A day where the plans change, rather drastically, in Mongolia.


After a couple of ideal photo moments, expectations were high this morning. The guide and the driver had promised we could make it onto a volcano top before sunrise. As I hardly slept in the so-called hotel in a so-called bed, I was happy to be on the road again before 5 am.

Despite all promises, the driver didn’t manage to figure out the way to the volcano before the sun was shining bright already. So the sunrise pictures of the volcano will be for a later trip in Mongolia. I might find myself a better driver at that time.


At this point, I’m done. the list of not keeping promises and agreements gets too long. I decide to call the trip short and return to Ulan Bator. We drove back towards Karakorum, the place where we already made a stop yesterday. During lunch in the restaurant, the guide showed his unhappiness about the end of the tour. I felt however that he missed his chance over the past week to show his professionalism and that now was a bit late to make new promises.

The guide and I had a good conversation about this later, and we discussed what to expect on this kind of tour, both implied and explicit. I’ll be blogging about that later here, as I still believe he’s a very capable guy.

We drove back. During the ride, I started working on the changed travel plan. It took me a while to find myself an Airbnb for that night, but I ended up securing a 1 bedroom on the same block as where I stayed earlier that week.

Karakhorum Museum & temple - Mongolia
Karakhorum Museum & temple – Mongolia


The way back came via a different route. I could enjoy some more of that stunning landscape and the local customs on my way back to the city. I already knew I would miss the smell of raw milk that is omnipresent here. The vibrant city would come with the smog and the traffic I had escaped while being here.

The Mongolian countryside is amazing. The people are friendly and very willing to help. Between what they believe they should promise, and what they actually deliver, is still too big a gap. My main lesson about Mongolia, on which I’ll elaborate later, is to take the planning of the trip in your own hands down to the last detail, and only hire people to execute that planning. It would have saved me on these last days some frustration. Tourism in Mongolia is a young industry, still finding its way…