How was Mongolia
The road and trasport
Shortly after I met Marcel (my husband) and the first thing I told him is that I want to go to Mongolia, to take photos. And he only asked me: ‘do you mind if I take you by motorbike?’. We went to Armenia, to Kazakhstan by motorbike, and I believe we took the best decision to go to Mongolia by car, where we travelled 23.000 kilometres in 6 weeks. I wanted so badly to get there for their culture, the people, the eagles. It’s exotic in a different way than the things we had already had a contact with.
They don’t have good roads, there is only land, but they have an excellent internet connection. I was in the middle of the desert and I was Facetiming. But they have big navigational problems, they don’t have maps, there are dozens of land roads, one next to the other.
Why are the Mongolian eagles so special? We found our answer: the fledgelings are taken from their mothers when they are small and trained to hunt for people. Practically, they go out on an open field with the eagle on the arm, and when they lift the headgear off their eyes, the bird flies straight to the prey, whether it’s a rabbit, a fox or even a wolf.
On the second day after we had entered Mongolia, we were in a village and two men on a motorbike cut us off, one with a gun, the other had the eagle on the arm, and behind the wheel, a rabbit was hanging. I had no idea what to do, open the window, the door, jump out the window, we followed them to their home, I was shaking and I could not believe it was real, truly.
It’s impressive to watch them open their wings.
The people and the food
Thankfully, the people are kind and generous, and it seemed they were as happy to meet us as we were them. This was also the moment we came in contact with Mongolian food. I admit I was not a fan of their traditional dishes, but it was incredibly rude to refuse, so we had to make do with instant soup and trying to ration the vegetables we could find.
Because of problems with the navigational system, we got lost and ended up at a horse festival, where we came in contact with local traditions. And I cannot put in words the feelings I entertained, witnessing such a festival. The horse is a very important animal to the Mongolian people, allowed to roam mostly free and recaught when needed. There were no security measures taken, even though the festival itself could only be described as wild: there the people, there the horses, there the contest.
It’s hard to put in words what I felt then. There were around 100 people, all of them with their horses, all of them dressed in coloured clothing. For them, this animal is of the utmost importance, they have their wild ones, or the semi-wild ones because they let them live in the wilderness and only capture them when they have a need to. It was practically a contest with some trials, they had even brought a huge herd of wild horses in the centre and practically between the people, and in the public, they were hunting them.