Plans background image.
Монгол улс
Idealized images of Mongolia’s open, rolling plains, proud traditional nomads, and gers (yurts) called to me from the first images I saw. About 2/3 of Mongolia’s population of 2.5 million are now in urban areas, and 1/3 continue to live a more traditional life. Traditions, love of horses, and daily rhythms of life tie back to Ghengis Khan and beyond. The majority of people are traditionally Tibetan Buddhist, Shamanist, or both. Mongolia’s recent history is dominated with being the child between the squabbling parents of China and Russia. Culturally and linguistically it is very much its own country. Politically, Mongolia is still finding its way as a young democracy coming out of a recent communist past. The destruction from both Stalinist and Maoist purges left a deep wound to their religious heritage, but the people are resilient and proud.

I got it in my head that I wanted to know what it was like to live as a Mongolian nomadic herder. I have studied everything I could get my hands on, and wanted to experience a longer stay with a family. Since Denver has more Mongolians than any other U.S. city, I asked everyone I knew if they knew anyone from Mongolia. Using this method, I eventually made a new friend named Anu Peters. She is an outgoing, friendly woman married to an American man. She helped me find Chimgee, the woman whose family hosted me in their traditional summer camp.

I lived with Enhee and Tsegmee and their 3 children, as well as many sheep, goats, horses and cows. I learned how to milk and care for the animals, make dairy products the family sells locally, and learned enough Mongolian for day-to-day living. I stayed with them for 2 months, long enough to really adapt to that way of living. I also worked with their children on their English skills, which will serve them well.

The summer camp was about 1 hour from Genghis Khan’s ancient capital Kharkhorin. Every other week or so I hitched in to use the internet to upload my writing about the experience to my blog.

On either end of my time with the nomads, I stayed with a friend of Anu’s (Bayara) in Ulaanbaatar and got to know the urban side of Mongolia. I was able to (after much effort) secure a visa so I could take the rest of the trans-siberian rail to Moscow and come home through Europe.


June 8 Train from Beijing, China, to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
June 10–14
Some sightseeing and prep.
June 14 Drive to Kharkhorin, and to meet my family. Stay about 2 months.
August 14 Return to Ulaanbaatar to work on Russian visa and train tickets

Aug. 27 - Sept. 2

Trans-Siberian to Moscow

Links to learn more
Brief history of Mongolia
Traditional ger (yurt)
How to set up a ger (YouTube)
Tibetan Buddhism
Gobi desert
Home Button Photos Button Locator Button