Comments from past Travelers

 

From: Max
Sent: Thursday, July 28, 2016 9:37 AM
To: Helen Fuge
Subject: RE: your trip

Hello Helen

Iím writing to you from the Listvyanka. It is a very nice place in a fantastic location. Iím enjoying this trip very much. Your planning and organising of this trip is just outstanding. Thank you very much. We had torrential rain in Beijing. The K3 Train just travelled 70km in 15 hours. We all just relaxed in the Train and arrived a bit late. Also Mr Bata from Mongolian Outback Travel provided me with the best Mongolian experience, one can wish for. Especially the guide, Duugii, is a waterfall of knowledge 10 out of 10. Thanks for asking. Going to Irkutsk this arvo.

Regards Max

 

From Alan

In Mongolia, we were met by our guide Tunga, whom you apparently know. Again, we found her to be excellent - plenty of information and plenty of passion for her country. We loved the ger experience, meeting a nomadic family - and the cheap beer!
 

Hi Guys

The story so far from a land so remote

Arrived Beijing to a mass of human beings unlike anything we have seen before, what an eye opener. Walked most places as the buses were like sardine cans and the lineup sedate until the bus arrives then its all for 1 and 1 for yourself, elbows thrashing, Phillbo swearing at those who dare try to elbow him out of the way and Rae holding on tightly to his belt , in case of being left behind- bloody hell! Saw the sights of the Forbidden City- magic, the Great Wall- rabbits everywhere, and many Buddhist temples and gardens which became a haven in the massive city. Until 10 years ago cars were rare but now 17000 million people drive 17000 M cars. Food and especially beer (50 cents 1/2 pint) exceptionally cheap however so far very few eat houses have translated menus so its trick or treat. Visited Xian by overnight train o see the Terra Cotta Warriors and was left breathless at the immensity of the structures and feat the people achieved some 2000 years ago. The overnight trains are good and as they are 4 berth you may share with anyone from Europeans to locals all sharing food etc. From Beijing we travelled by train to Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar (UB) being the capital as our destination arriving 11th Sept after a 1.5 day journey, great trip, cabin shred with a Finnish lady and a young yank girl who never took a breath from talking. UB has a small population but mad drivers but a city where you can visit the outer Steppes and Gobi desert- we have just returned from 2 days staying in a Ger (Yurt) with a local family in a national park 70k from UB- beautiful mountains good hiking and a monastery to boot. They are nomadic and therefore water is limited which we got from upturned plastic drink bottle nailed to a fence post- just a dribble at a time- no wash- well we are back at UB and here for 2 days and leave for Russia on Sunday night 16th

Sept- will do some local site seeing till then- Phills view Just thought I'd add my slant...I didn't actully hang onto his belt...I couldn't reach that...he was so efficient at the elbowing, that I was left watching him mount the steps (with my passport and ticket) so I then had to learn the manners of the moment!! The Ger trip was fantastic. The scenery was just amazing, really majestic and clean fresh air, We did some great hiking. The ger was great and the traditional food was very interesting.

Lots of dairy products, all home made yoghurt, fermented mares milk, and not a sheep's innards to be seen (except that we watched the guy who owned the ger butcher a sheep this morning...and I thought our story of our butchering episode in Cobargo was out there) ...tasted perhaps, but not seen...amazing what you can eat with your eyes closed...and the fact we've got a cold is OK as we can't taste or smell...Something to be said for sickness of the aged!!

Hope you're all OK

see ya Phillbo and Rae

From: Karen
Hi Colin,

My ePostcards to friends have already elicited a couple of queries from people wanting to do the same tour. (ePostcards follow - please excuse the typos. I am an ex-journo but never done any travel writing so excuse the quality also).

Karen

Mongolia

How many people can you fit into one sleeping compartment on the transMongolian? A few aussies, kiwis, a russian, american, spaniard, austrian and a mongolian or two ....... made 21. The train trip from Ulan Baator to Irkutsk involved a lot of waiting around clutching passports and immigration paperwork on both sides of the Mongolian and Russian borders. The theatre of custom officials and the Mongolian smugglers hiding salamis sausages, clothes, you name it, in every nook and cranny including foreigners luggage, made for great entertainment.

I slept with several strings of salami sausages hung above my upper bunk. A cold russian beer and a couple of passengers doing the macarena, cossack dancing and other steps in the middle of the tracks, also whiled away the time. As do the nonsensical shuffling of carriages and engines.

Words and photographs cannot describe the magnificence of the Mongolian steppes. A five hour bumpy drive to our camp 300 km out of the capital, traversed vast sweeping plains without fences, trees and often any other living thing in sight. At the crest of every hill another stunning vista greets you, a landscape of a thousand roads as the Mongolians 'make their own' road when other tracks get cut up. When sharing the road, it was with herds of wild horses, goats or cows, watched over by Mongolian horsemen mounted on wooden saddles, in their traditional clothes and long boots. Unbelievably beautiful and sexy. At night asleep in the felt tent it was so quiet except for the pounding hooves of Mongolian horses trotting past.

Welcomed into a nomadic family's ger the warmth and hospitality of these stunningly beautiful people was demonstrated by their sharing food and drink with us, dressing me up in a gorgeous hand sewn ceremonial costume, and laughing with us grappling with the wooden saddles when riding their horses. Occassionally the outside world was apparent on the steppes - the young Mongolians chatting away on mobile phones, satellite dishes outside gers and a shopkeeper near an ancient temple in the middle of nowhere reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

In Ulaan Baator I shared a few drinks at a bar with the local Reuters journalist - a Finn - and her dog Mr Wonderful. Irja's stories of being mugged 30 times in the 20 years she'd lived in Mongolia confirmed that the capital was indeed a dangerous place for foreigners at night. However, in the ancient temples and on the steppes of Mongolia, an overwhelming sense of serenity pervaded. What a magical and astounding country.

From: Jane Edwards
To: Helen Fuge
Subject: trip update

 

Greetings from Kashgar
 
We just wanted to let you know that we had a fantastic time in Mongolia!
Our tour guide, Soko, was a wealth of knowledge & certainly made the trip more memorable by sharing with us info on Mongolian history, culture etc.
The hosts at the homestay (Madam Galia & Arvii) were friendly & great fun.
And the ger camp we stayed at was top notch - oh and the vegetarian food was excellent!!!
We recommend that you continue to use the Mongolian Outback company so other travellers can enjoy Mongolia as much as we did.
 
Cheers
Jane & Andy
Dear Colin,
 
Thanks for your email. We've now set ourselves up in the UK and and are trying to see as much of Europe as we can.
Our trip was fantastic. I think that by travelling with the same group but then having the freedom to see the destinations by yourselves you get the best of both worlds. 
Thanks also for the vodka at the ger camp. That turned out to be an awesome night! Although waking up at 3am, blind drunk, and trying to work out why I was sleeping in a round tent with felt walls was an experience to remember.
All of the guides we had and homestays we stayed were great, the food was always plentiful, and the locations were always very central.
 
Once again, thanks very much, and I don't think that there is anything that I would suggest you change for future travellers.
 
Kurt and Lucy.  
Client comments

From: Helen
To: Passport Travel
Subject: First Mongolian meal

We also had our first Mongolian meal -- outstanding! It consists primarily of mutton but also includes potatoes and bread. Many of the guide books we read said the Mongolians don't eat vegetables but we found that to be totally untrue.

The next morning we were whisked off to the Ger camp where we spent two nights. This was an absolutely magnificent experience. We had our own Ger and ate in a common building with other people. We also had a common toilet and shower building. The women's side had three stalls -- two with squatters and (thankfully) one with a toilet with a seat! The camp was located in the Terejl National Park. There are many Ger camps in the park. It is a magnificent expanse of Mongolian steppe and mountains.

While at the camp we ate many traditional Mongolian meals including Mongolian Hot Pot. We have some pictures of it. This food is mutton cut into pieces with the bone and put into a pot, which resembles a milk can, with red hot rocks and a little bit of water. The pot is then put on an open fire and cooked for a couple of hours. The meat is great!

We also had an opportunity to ride camels. Check out the pictures. This was an experience not to be missed. On our way home we stopped at a Nomad Ger and were treated to traditional Mongolian cookies, butter, cheese, and fermented mare's milk!

From: The Abbott Family
To: Helen Fuge
Subject: Mongolia
 

Dear Helen,
I arrived home on Saturday and thought you might like a little feedback.
 
We had a very good time. The people were extremely friendly, especially in the country. The countryside was magnificent.
 
Our young guide, Zula, was excellent, informed and prepared to learn and find out and genuinely thoughtful about our well being. We had a lot of laughs and we took her and her sister out for a meal on the last night. the driver Narco was also good - terrible roads- and, by the end,  I think was quite fond of these two old Aussie women who were on for anything going.
 
As it turned out we stayed in 3 different ger camps and I think that proved a good thing. There were very few other tourists and no where to gather when the rain and wind got going, as it did a couple of times, when we were restricted to our ger. These were very comfortable and we became expert at keeping the fire going, especially when the wood was green and wet. There were showers and  but the hot water was a little scarce.
 
I went horse riding twice which was really great. The camel ride was a little disappointing as we only went for an hour and we had been hoping to make a half day and take our lunch. Zula had indicated this was to happen but I think some other people turned up and plans were changed. If I went again I would like to pin down the opportunity to have a decent exploration by camel.
 
Visits to Hogna Han and Erdene Zu were bother very worthwhile.
 
We saw the wild horses in the national park and a day ride into this park would be on the agenda for another trip.
 
UB was great, especially when we went seeking the Mongolian Artists workshops which we found after several adventures and some very helpful locals who generally knew less than we did. I bought a painting from a very excited artist. His pleasure alone was worth the money. There is some very interesting modern art going on but you have to track it down.
 
Zula came with us to the big market as she was concerned for our safety!! It was very interesting but one had to be very careful with belongings. We felt very safe the rest of the time, went shopping to the supermarket and the internet cafe at 11pm without any trouble. I guess we are both experienced older travellers!! Not very many beggars. The problem with the street kids is evident but not threatening. Very sad really.
 
The home stay was very clean. The family appeared to be quite well off comparatively and we had to make all the running in communication even though the woman had quite good English.
 
We had to seek out Mongolian food as there are many other types of restaurants and in general the food was very clean and healthy. We were careful to use bottled water for everything and did not have a moments trouble. Penny is still in Beijing and has been ill since she got back there which says a lot for the efforts people are making in Mongolia.
 
I would like to go again one day. As usual I felt I just touched the surface. The Lonely Planet 2001 does not do the country or the people any justice.
 
if you have others interested in going I would be happy to share some ideas.
 
Thanks for organizing such a wonderful trip. my friends are already sick of hearing " Well in Mongolia..."
Cheers Colleen

From: Jane Edwards
Sent:
Friday, 27 May 2005 4:45 PM
To: Helen Fuge
Subject: trip update
 

Greetings from Kashgar
 
We just wanted to let you know that we had a fantastic time in Mongolia!
Our tour guide, Soko, was a wealth of knowledge & certainly made the trip more memorable by sharing with us info on Mongolian history, culture etc. The hosts at the homestay (Madam Galia & Arvii) were friendly & great fun.
And the ger camp we stayed at was top notch - oh and the vegetarian food was excellent!!!
We recommend that you continue to use your local partners so other travellers can enjoy Mongolia as much as we did.
 
Cheers