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1 November 2017 / leggypeggy

Mongolia from our train window

Bactrian camels in the Gobi desert

Bactrian camels in the Gobi desert

Timber house Mongolia

One of the first houses we saw after crossing the border

Gobi desert, Mongolia

Timber power poles are attached to concrete bases. To protect from snow or animals?

Looking back at my photos, I’m surprised by the diversity of Mongolian photos I took from the train. Our complete train journey will be just over 8000 kilometres (from Beijing in China to St Petersburg in Russia) and about 1000 of that was in Mongolia. 

The landscape changes from the moment we moved from China into Mongolia—the earth is the same (still in the Gobi desert), but the housing and animals are different. The Mongols have girs (yurts) and many sturdy timber and brick buildings with colourful exteriors.

Mongolia (population 3 million) has more livestock than people, and we saw Bactrian camels, sheep, goats, cattle, horses and yaks.

We’ve been told that people (and their herds) often spend theirs summer in the countryside and then move their gir into town for winter. Sometimes a gir sits next to a house. I’m not sure about toilet facilities in town.

Nasaa, the guide for our Mongolian excursions, said she and her husband are building a new two-storey house. The process will take a couple of years and plumbing will be one of the last things to go in. When we travelled across Mongolia (west to east) in 2014, we stopped in a town with a bathhouse.

Industry is scattered across the parts of Mongolia we travelled through, and I was surprised to see the amount of coal around.

Anyway, here are glimpses of life as seen from our train window. I’ve added captions where necessary. Plus I have plenty of other pics from our sightseeing excursions in Mongolia.

Girs in Mongolia

Girs in the countryside

Girs in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

Girs on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar

Livestock Mongolia

Mongolia has more livestock than people. Herds have horses, sheep, goats, yaks, cattle and camels


Leave a Comment
  1. Miriam / Nov 1 2017 4:26 pm

    Looks like a big and vast journey. Enjoy it all Peggy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Osyth / Nov 1 2017 4:58 pm

    Your pictures and post are fascinating as ever but my real takeaway is the vastness and how humbled we should be at this extraordinary place we dwell that, like our own bodies has a fine tuned coexistence of terrains and species. I’m quite tearful still about the original lake post you guided me too yesterday and this immense landscape somehow feels like Mother Nature reminding us that we do well to get along in her terms not try to force change like petulant toddlers

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2017 5:07 pm

      You’re right, Osyth, and this is an especially worrying year for the Mongolians. We were told that there wasn’t enough rain this summer and that herdsmen are worried that many animals will die of starvation. And we still have to deal with those who deny climate change. Don’t they think of their children?.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth / Nov 1 2017 5:12 pm

        Such a simple and achingly poignant question… these blinkered greedy fools seem willing to sacrifice future generations on their own listing altar of selfishness. And then assuage their corrupt consciences with Church as often as not. I have Cat Stevens lovely and haunting song ‘Where Do The Children Play’ in my head which though not about global warming per se is a plea to the powerful to stop and think ahead ….

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2017 5:15 pm

        My children say they are not having children. When I tell people this, many try to console me. I appreciate those who say ‘So your kids are doing something for the planet’. I believe it’s their lives and they need to do what works for them.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Vicki / Nov 1 2017 5:04 pm

    I was very surprised to see Girs on the outskirts of the town……and that last image of the animals is amazing. Wouldn’t have believed that they would have found much to eat on that bare ground.

    I’m enjoying your posts of this train journey very much. Particularly as I imagined that there would have been some source of food or meals provided on the train journey (and it turns out that there were not).

    BTW How did you cook/heat the noodles you bought beforehand?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2017 5:10 pm

      Actually there was food available for most (but not all) of the trip, but it was expensive and pretty mundane. Plus we could get off at various stations and buy food, but much of that was snacks and fried bread. Luckily each carriage had a huge samovar providing hot water. We bought bowls, so making noodles was easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gilda Baxter / Nov 1 2017 6:17 pm

    Awesome train journey with vast and varied landscapes. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and what you are learning😄

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 1:52 am

      Thanks so much. I really appreciate you travelling along with me.


  5. Adela Teban / Nov 1 2017 6:29 pm

    Hello! Mongolia it`s a very interesting place. I hope you had a wonderful journey, from your train window looks very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 2:31 am

      The trip has been fascinating. We are in Russia now. Many more posts to come. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  6. Forestwoodfolk / Nov 1 2017 6:33 pm

    I once dreamed ( as an 18 year old) of doing this trip. I probably won’t ever get there so it is nice to see your photos and post. Fascinating. When I saw the last photo and the caption, I suddenly recoiled and thought…. more poo and flies than people!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 1:53 am

      Luckily we didn’t encounter any cow pats or flies in Mongolia. Must have been the time of year. I can only encourage you to do the trip. Really not that hard. Check out Lupine Travel.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. weggieboy / Nov 1 2017 6:41 pm

    Fascinating train journey! How many countries have you and Poor John travelled to, Peggy? Which ones (other than Australia, I presume!) would you move to if you made a move?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 1:56 am

      We’ve both been to more than 100 countries—Poor John about 10 more than me. As for where I’d move? That’s a hard question, especially because living in a place can be so different to visiting. I could easily spend six months each in lots of different countries.


  8. Miss A / Nov 1 2017 7:19 pm

    That’s interesting to see the landscape of Mongolia! I always wanted to go on the Transibirian rail but so far haven’t.
    I wanted to stop in Mongolia for horse riding.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Nov 1 2017 8:08 pm

    This is such other world imagery, of a lifestyle unusual for us in the west, and seemingly endless in Mongolia. The landscape is huge but it also seems barren. Do they have to drop food for the animals like they do in the US in areas without enough natural vegetation? Not sure where they would get the food or what it would be. Seems so desolate but they’ve made this place their home for hundreds – maybe thousands? – of years. What language do they speak? Do their kids go to school? Seems like it would be a long journey to get to a school at least from some areas. And those camels – if one hump is odd, two are bizarre. Thanks for all the photos of this incredible place. I’m wondering if it will still be like this in `10 or 20 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 2:00 am

      I was in Mongolia three years ago in August and the landscape was quite green. This trip we went through some forest (not on the train). But yes, I think the herders sometimes have to feed their animals.
      As for your other questions. The Mongolians speak Russian, but their own language is making a comeback.School is very important. Some kids will live with relatives in larger cities so they can go to school. And like you, I wonder how long it will still be like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. beetleypete / Nov 1 2017 8:24 pm

    ‘Bactrian camels in the Gobi Desert’
    What timeless imagery that simple line conjures up, Peggy. It could have been written in the journals of Marco Polo, and you are still able to see the same sight, in 2017. Marvellous.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 2:13 am

      Actually there is a program going in Mongolia to try to save the endangered wild Bactrians. Too often they breed with domesticated Bactrians.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. fashopolitan / Nov 1 2017 9:28 pm

    Hi there leggypeggy i nominated you for the versatile blogging award please check my blog for more details.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 2:23 am

      Thanks so much for thinking of me. I know you’ll understand, but I’ve had to keep my blog award-free. I travel so much and often remotely, that I can never be sure when I’ll have a connection. Being award-free makes it easier for me. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Robert Parker / Nov 1 2017 10:54 pm

    I’ve grown up in a dairy region, so used to seeing cows, but not hundreds of them, unfenced, like that last photo. And not a scrap of green. I’ve read that Genghis Khan’s empire-building was only made possible by an unusual period of rainfall. When semi-arid regions get moisture, the soil can be incredibly productive, so it was possible to have enormous herds of horses, etc. His reign based on rain. Very interesting trip!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 2:15 am

      I hope to devote a post or two to Genghis Khan. He had a remarkable career and is much maligned. Mongolians consider him a hero, and rightly so for that period of time. And I know what you mean about the sheer numbers of cows roaming free. Very hard to imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robert Parker / Nov 2 2017 2:45 am

        I read Jack Weatherford’s book on Khan, it’s just excellent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 4:41 am

        I’ll be referring to exactly that book in a blog post.


  13. MichaelStephenWills / Nov 2 2017 12:27 am

    Mongolia and Tompkins County, NY USA have one thing in common: more livestock than people. What a wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 2:16 am

      Surprising to think that a New York county is overrun with livestock. Thanks for that nugget.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robert Parker / Nov 2 2017 2:48 am

      I think that may be true for Seneca County, NY too! If you throw in the sheep and llamas, it’s a clear majority 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 4:40 am

        I’m pleased to know there are parts of New York state that I could live in. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  14. pvcann / Nov 2 2017 1:41 am

    So good to see, aridity has its own beauty

    Liked by 1 person

  15. janowrite / Nov 2 2017 5:49 am

    The landscape reminded me of parts of the Dakotas.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Joy Morris / Nov 2 2017 7:43 am

    what a sight, thanks for posting

    Liked by 1 person

  17. PantryPortfolio / Nov 2 2017 9:05 am

    Fascinating! It is so interesting to learn that herds have such a combination of animals. I’ve been to the Gobi in China and its interesting to see the similarities and also the differences in structure. I love seeing the world through your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 5:12 pm

      Oh wow, so glad you have seen the Gobi too. Have you blogged about it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • PantryPortfolio / Nov 5 2017 10:28 am

        I visited with a group of other teachers as we were all adding China to our curriculum. It was several years before I started my blog but maybe I should dig into my mental memory file and write about some of those stories in future posts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2017 3:58 pm

        I hope you do.


  18. Curt Mekemson / Nov 2 2017 10:38 am

    Your photos provide the sense of wide open country and distant vistas that I would expect in Mongolia, Peggy. And yurts of course. Bactrian camels always seem a bit strange to me. But I guess if one hump is good, then two humps are better. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 5:14 pm

      I still haven’t had the chance to ride a Bactrain camel—maybe someday. Have ridden dromedaries quite a few times.


  19. gerard oosterman / Nov 2 2017 1:24 pm

    I always thought the two humped ones were dromedary camels. Perhaps I am wrong. Great posts, Peggy. And I liked the little set-up of yurts all huddled together with the higgledy piggledy paling fences. I bet a few stories are being told during winter’s evening huddled around the fire.
    No medium rooms, or need for three bathrooms and ‘home theatres,’ or remote controlled garage doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2017 5:15 pm

      It’s easy to mix up the names, but I assure you the two-humpers are Bactrians. And yes, girs are all in one with few of the mod-cons we all hanker for. They’re a good reminder of what we can do without.


  20. chattykerry / Nov 3 2017 12:05 am

    I would love to visit Mongolia, especially now that they have become one of the successful 2nd world nations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2017 2:30 am

      Hope you get there. It’s well worth a visit.


  21. Phil Huston / Nov 4 2017 10:06 am

    Beautiful in a very stark sort of way. A backdrop to the Genghis Khan tales told. But looking at it, it’s no wonder the Mongol Horde decided to raid and set up shop where there was more to the pastoral view…Amazing, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2017 3:54 pm

      The landscape is bleak for the most part, although we saw lots of forest when we were in a car. More pics coming.


  22. Ankur Mithal / Nov 22 2017 12:58 am

    I find wide open spaces fascinating. Could be the result of living in a fairly packed place. And Mongolia seems to have a lot of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2017 6:52 am

      Yes, Mongolia is most wide-open spaces. The landscapes and sky seem to go on forever.


  23. Jane Gealy / Feb 8 2018 12:25 am

    My partner and I toured Mongolia a couple of years ago, such an utterly unique place; endless grasslands, steppe and sand dunes. We always said we’d like to take the Trans-Siberian Express and stop off to see some of the places we missed. I’ll then be able to add a few more photos to my collection, which I’ve just posted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 8 2018 8:08 am

      There is nothing ‘express’ about the train, but it is an amazing journey. I enjoyed checking out your post. Hope you have the chance to return.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. frejatravels / Jun 15 2018 9:11 pm

    The photos are fantastic. Did you had a good experience on the train? My husband want to take train from Vladivostok to Petersburgh by train, but I am dreading it. I though it would be bored sitting long hours on the train. yeah.. I know it would stop in many cities and we can stay overnight but is the train nice or is it boring during the day? ha..ha.. i like to move around and not to comfine to such a small place:) cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 15 2018 10:15 pm

      We had a great experience on the train. Yes, the days can be long, but we met interesting people and saw fascinating sights. I highly recommend stopping several nights each in some cities. In addition to St Petersburg, we stopped in Ulanbaatar, Irkutsk and Moscow. It broke up the train journey. Also, you can walk all over the train, so it’s not confining. Good luck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • frejatravels / Jun 15 2018 11:33 pm

        Thanks for the info. Yeah.. still thinking about it ha..ha..If we go, my husband would love to join from China and then stop over in Ulanbaatar since he loves Mongolia.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2018 12:41 am

        You’re welcome. We started our trip in Beijing. We love Mongolia too.


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