As the train left behind the mountains and gorges just outside Beijing, China the view from my seat at the window seemed to suddenly change. We were in the Gobi Desert. Perhaps the difference in landscape, the gravel plains, seemed so abrupt because it was separated by the cover of darkness. The dust that blanketed our 4 person sleeper only confirmed that our trip through the northernmost desert in the world continued throughout the night while we were asleep.
As we traveled closer to the interior of Mongolia the panorama was spectacular. The rolling hills and the endless flats of the prairie were deep green. The grasslands appeared to have been perfectly mowed and they had been by a rotation of livestock that roams this part of the world.
Mongolians are nomads and the white round structures that dot the scenery are the gers they live in. A ger in the west is known as a yurt. It is a lightweight collapsible structure that is easy to move. It is made of thick layers of felt and has a stove in the center that acts as a heater during the cold season. Many families continue to live in gers that they set up throughout the Mongolian Steppes where their herds of livestock graze.
In 2015 Mongolia counted its animals and livestock and found 55.9 million in the country which included over 3.2 million horses, thus the number of horses in Mongolia are nearly the same as the population.
As the train neared Ulaanbaatar, the biggest city in Mongolia, the green grassland and the white gers fight for space with permanent structures. Thankfully after 30 hours the view from the window hasn’t lost its appeal, the homes that line the hills are painted colors of a rainbow.
I have a good feeling about Mongolia and I can’t wait to get off this train so I can get personal with this place.