After a busy day of firing kalashnikovs, last minute gift shopping, and frantic packing, I left Mongolia late last night.
It’s weird to be leaving Mongolia; after spending three weeks there, primarily in Ulaanbaator, I was starting to feel like a local. I knew which coffee-shops to hang out at, was on a first name basis with the folks who run the vegan restaurant Luna Blanca, and even managed to learn to read Cyrillic. At the same time I feel like I’ve only seen a small part of Mongolia; I would love to get a chance sometime in the future to see more of the country.
I never thought I would visit Mongolia. The impetus for visiting Mongolia was my father. He was working on a conference in Ulaanbaator, and invited me to come along. I had seen photos and had heard how beautiful and expansive the Mongolian countryside is, but none of that prepared me for just how breathtaking the vast, open steppe is. One you get past the traffic jams of Ulaanbaator, Mongolia is really an amazing place.
Mongolia is undergoing many rapid changes; it has only been two decades since the end of over half a century of Soviet rule. It will be interesting see what the next decade will bring to Mongolia- from preserving traditional cultures that were brutally oppressed under Soviet rule, to finding ways to responsibly manage development and construction and deal with urban crowding and traffic in Ulaanbaator.
I’m writing this from the Hong Kong airport. I’m about to leave for London. I spent last night in Incheon (near Seoul, Korea) in an amazingly hi-tech airport hotel. They had one most sophisticated lighting systems I have ever seen. The table lamp could sense your hand, and then would then turn on and off based on touch!