Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mongolia

Young riders and horses prepare to race at the Nadaam Festival in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Nikon D300, 80-400mm at 165mm, 1/1000 at f/7/1, ISO 200.

Mongolia is the most sparsely populated independent countries in the world. It has a population of 2.9 million. One million of its population lives in its capital city, Ulan Bator. The remainder continues to live a nomadic lifestyle: living under the roofs of their portable gers and living off the land and their animals.

Lighting the stove inside our ger at night. Nikon D300, 10.5mm, 1/2 f/4.0, ISO 400.

Mongolia is a landlocked country between Russia and China. It is roughly 3000km long and 1500km wide, about 3 times the size of France, or twice the size of Texas. The country is generally cold, high and dry; with short summers and long, harsh winters. The north has mountains, forests and grasslands. The south is barren, fragile, and forms part of the great Gobi deserts. Outside of Ulan Bator, there are almost no paved roads. The vehicle of choice is the Furgon, a Russian made 4WD van.

A Tsataan (Reindeer People) girl with her reindeer at Lake Hovsgol, northern Mongolia. Nikon D300, 10.5mm, 1/500 at f/11, ISO 200.

Mongolians have a proud history. Under the rule of Chinggis Khaan in the 12th century, the Mongols united and began a series of conquests that would stretch from Asia to central Europe, forming one of the largest empires in history.

A Mongolian man wearing a traditional Dell. Nikon D300, 18-200mm at 32mm, 1/100 f/4.0, ISO 400.

Why visit?
Despite their warrior ancestry, Mongolians are a friendly people, and will warmly welcome you into their gers. The culture and landscape is unique. The landscape is hauntingly beautiful… and frightening fragile.

When to Visit?
Most visitors come during the short summer season, particularly during the Nadaam festival, overwhelming Mongolia’s few airlines and hotels.

Wrestling at the Nadaam Festival. Nikon D300, 80-400mm at 230mm, 1/200 f/7.1, ISO 200.


Best Memories

The khoomii, or throat singing.

Forgetables
Mongolian food (with the exception of Khuushuur) and no, Mongolian Barbeque is NOT Mongolian food.

Jasmine munching on a Khuushuur at the Nadaam Festival in UB.