What’s important in a honeymoon destination? Memorable-ness? Yes. Stunning scenery? Yes. Vodka, yaks, yurts? Yes, yes, yes. Vegetables? Bathing? Proper beds? Man-up, married couple, you’re honeymooning in Mongolia now! Mongolia is an arid landlocked nation bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, famous as the birthplace of Chinggis Khaan (aka Genghis Khan) the ruthless conqueror (this guy).
The climate is harsh and changeable, and infrastructure is negligible.
With less than 1% arable land, the Mongolian diet consists primarily of dairy (alcoholic fermented mares milk, anyone?), meat, and animal fats. It is my opinion that this goes a long way to explaining why it’s the most sparsely populated country in the world. (But then, I’m vegan. Perhaps you might vote with Mongolia on this issue). The capital city of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, has the gritty feel of a post Soviet city. Especially when you accidentally book your first night’s accommodation in the slum district (which, in defence of the slum, was still only a brief stroll to the CBD).
We were itching to get out of the city and see where the other two thirds of the population live. This meant hiring a driver, a translator to speak to the driver, and a van that looked like it might not make it outside the city limits.
The car did make it out of the city, but one night in the middle of a paddock our driver spent 20 minutes under the van removing this mystery engine part before our journey continued.
We were travelling during the Naadam Festival, an important Mongolian holiday where people compete in horse racing, wrestling and archery. I was cheering for the chap in the pink fighting-pants.
But his opponent blue-pants was victorious.
Almost half of Mongolia’s population live in yurts (or “gers”). These eco-friendly accommodations protect their nomadic inhabitants from the desert sun (and desert snow), and can (allegedly) be assembled by pro-ger-builders in half an hour.
As we travelled, our driver and translator would speak to local families and ask them if we could stay the night. We cooked our dinners over the small pot belly stoves in the middle of the ger, and slept deeply until the yaks mooing (mooing?) would wake us as the sun rose.
The view from the ger.
This is my husband carrying me across the ger-threshold
Travelling Mongolia is challenging, but beautiful.
We were met with great hospitality, warmth, helpfulness, and enough vodka to make up for the lack of vegetables.
Ms Gingham says: This is proof that newly weds don’t only honeymoon in Tahiti (and the like). If anyone out there thinks they can top the adventure of Ellen’s honeymoon please register here to share it with us! Thanks so much to Ellen for providing us with this insight to Mongolia! Now where’s my suntan lotion and Pina Colada?
Ellen says: I love weddings. I love Dad speeches, cakes with too much icing, puffy dresses, nervous grooms, tipsy bridesmaids, teary grandpas, and the giddy anticipation of couples in love. I also love my camera, and think I have the best job in the world.
Ellen is also a very talented photographer. See a gallery of her work at Studio Something.