Inner Circle

Journey to Magical Mongolia

 

Journey to Magical Mongolia
 

Having heard so much about Mongolia and her once spectacular history under the momentous rule of Chinggis (or what we commonly known as Genghis) Khan, visiting Mongolia was like a dream come true, especially when we were so fortunate to stay in the elegant Shangri-La Ulaan Baatar.

Looking out from the Horizon Club Lounge on the top floor of the hotel while sipping champagne, it was the panoramic view of Bogd Khan Uul with a carving of the mountain’s protector deity on the slope that immediately caught my eye. In the foreground lies the National Amusement Park, which we can gaze all day at the Rollercoaster, colourful Ferris Wheel and Disneyesque castle. If you look closer, you could also see the legendary Tran-Siberian Railway that brings you from China to Russia via Mongolia on an unforgettable 7-day journey.

Excited to explore the city, we walked just two blocks away to Chinggis Square, the heart of the city! We were very fortunate to visit during the National Costume Festival, and we were rewarded with the sight of beautiful people wearing the intricate and vibrant Mongolian deel. For some retail therapy, we shopped where the locals do at the State Department Store (Ikh Delguur), one of the largest shopping centre that reminded us that Mongolian was once part of the Soviet Occupation. Here, we found a variety of dairy products, cashmere and leather goods, certainly a place where you could literally find everything under one roof.

For a short trip, we decided to visit Terelj National Park, which is just an hour’s drive from the capital city. The car ride itself was well worth the journey, as we travelled through the green hues, looking at the wide open steppes with the occasional Gers dotting the landscape, and herds of wild horses prancing across the prairie.

Enroute, we stopped by Tsonjin Buldog to visit the 40 metre tall statue of Chinggis Khan on horseback. According to legend, it is here where he found the golden whip. After a short climb to the head of the horse, we were presented with a panoramic view of the Mongolian countryside. Thereafter, we visited the famous Turtle Rock perched at the entrance of the National Park before ending the day with another climb to the top of Ariyabal Monastery. Here, we admired the breathtaking view of Terelj National Park, its picturesque valleys, its incredible rock formations and its forested alpine mountains. With so much positive energy and tranquility surrounding Ariyabal Monastery, it is no wonder that this temple has become a famous place for meditation.

For the authentic experience, we decided to spend one night in the Ger with a local family. The opportunity to be invited to their Ger and experience their nomadic way of life was truly humbling yet inspiring. It gave us the chance to fully enjoy what nature has to offer at its purest – listening to the little stream making its way through the luscious green, watching the family’s 5-year-old son riding his horse with so much adroitness and zest, feeling the cool breeze against my face as we drank the national drink, a combination of warm salty milk tea (suutei tsai), while waking up to calls of horses and goats rustling around the outside walls of the Ger. All these are memories that we will remember in years to come.

Mongolia, with its endless luscious green steppes and never-ending desert, offers endless frames for photography. Throughout the trip, I was just in awe about how this country was once the home of the Mongol Empire that stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. In this country that is still continuously developing, the travel to the countryside might be rough, but Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar is always a good respite with world-class facilities to transit from countryside to city life effortlessly. With the Shangri-La’s renowned warm hospitality and impeccable service, you will definitely feel at home.

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