Well, Mongolia 🇲🇳 always amazes foreigners. 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱
The first feeling that make you feel you landed on foreign land is a smell or air welcomed you at the exit of airport, and secondly, a foreign music on the radio of a taxi, right? First place you may want to go is 1) somewhere you can change your money, 2) buy sim card, 3) eat food before check in to a hotel.
After you change your money into local Mongolian currency “togrog”, you will immediately become a “millionaire”. But you will start spending with tens of thousands of togrogs.
SIM cards are not sold everywhere like convenience stores in East Asia. In Mongolia, you have to go to mobile phone operator company’s service shop with your passport in order to buy SIM card.
About foods, maybe you have watched Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern, a famous travel and cuisine television show’s episode on Mongolia. Mongolian food dish is largely dominated by mutton, and the portion is huge for most. The fattier the mutton, the more it tastier. Andrew is right, fat is main source of fuel for Mongolians. You need to eat fatty food in order to survive long cold winter.
Mix of meat and milk. Weird! All sorts of “Banshtai Tsai” is a mix of milk tea with meat-filled dumplings. Some home-style recipes even boil ribs in the tea. Since we talk about animals that Mongolians eat, thanks to their 60 million animals (for 3 million people, weird!), Mongolia never ever experienced starvation in its entire history. They try not to waste every piece of the animals they killed for food. Growing animals is a hard work, those nomadic people work hard to make sure every animals survive long cold winter.
In the cold season, we eat beef and horse meat to keep us more warm. Nomadic people avoid to eat meat during hot season, they use more milk and diary products. And, lamb, they don’t kill baby animals for food, so don’t expect to find lamb dish at a restaurant. City people eat mutton everyday basis. Mutton is cheaper than chicken. Weird! Chicken is not a traditional thing we eat everyday, so it is kinda luxury item. Chicken is more expensive than mutton.
Foreigners are amazed to see modern city of Ulaanbaatar after they land. Yes, it is true. This is what western media picturize Mongolia to the outer world. A horseman galloping in the middle of nowhere.
They never seen this picture of skylines, busy street of Ulaanbaatar. Karaokes in every five meters, Russian letter signs on the buildings, so many Prius cars on the road, etc.
In Mongolia, foreigners may see breastfeeding mothers everywhere in public places and it is completely normal here. But foreigners find it strange. Breastfeeding mothers are seen as pure, loving, and caring. It has always had this beautiful connotations and never once met a single person seeing breastfeeding mothers otherwise. Breastfeeding is a beautiful act of nurturing and loving. In fact, people see it as beautiful and it should be the same elsewhere. We met some travelers who are doing stories on breastfeeding culture in Mongolia. They even traveled to the western Mongolia to meet and interview local mothers.
Read this story written by a westerner. Breastfeeding in the land of Genghis Khan.
Look this young wrestler is getting “doping” during the break of the match at the Wrestling Palace. So cute. If a boy is born in the family, we say a wrestler is born. Babies are breastfed until they reach around 7, as long as possible. Maybe this is why Mongolians are good at all kinds of wrestling sports.
“And when he wins that Olympic gold medal in wrestling, I’ll expect him to thank me”, the author Ruth Kamnitzer ended her article.
Westerners find Mongolians are enjoying too much freedom. You cannot see in Europe a black Mercedes Benz with red swastika stickers on its doors. It is illegal in Europe. But in Mongolia, you can see cars with swastika stickers, maybe members of that gang groups or just their supporters. Read article about Mongolia’s neo-nazi groups here and here.
To be continued…