In 2 weeks’ time I’m off to Mongolia, so have been doing a little research. It seems the Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th century was the largest land empire that ever existed – stretching from Korea to Hungary and most of Asia (not India or Southeast Asia) and it lasted for over a century.
While I’m there I’ll be attending Naadam – an annual, traditional festival: which, in 2010, was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.
I’m looking forward to “the 3 games of men” of Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery. It seems women now take part in the archery and horse racing games and I’m expecting to get some great photos in this, the biggest festival in the Mongolian calendar.
One of the things that confused me about Mongolia were the terms Outer Mongolia, and Inner Mongolia. Wikipedia tells me that Outer Mongolia ( where I will be) is an independent, landlocked democracy, between China and Russia. Inner Mongolia was, or is, the part of the country closest to China and is not really part of the country known as Mongolia. I have no doubt I will be learning a lot in the 10 days I’m there!
I’ll be based in Ulaanbaatar, where about half of the of the 3 million population live, and expect to be posting on Instagram and Facebook (The Travelling Writer) while there – my blogs will follow once I’m back in New Zealand and had digested all I’ve seen and learnt.
Joining the Seal Coast Safari, which ‘they’ say is the ‘best tour in Wellington’ I want to check it out again and see if ‘they’ are right.
I’m picked up at the Wellington i-Site (downtown visitor centre) along with two other locals – Claire & Alice – both Bluebridge employees. Seems this is the first time our driver-guide, Billy, has had locals-only on the off-road Seal Coast Safari. It’s a compliment when locals love our coast so much we go out in the middle of winter to see it from a different perspective.
I get the front seat in the Toyota Cruiser and we’re off – before long we’re at the top of the Zealandia (Karori Wildlife Sanctuary) predator proof fence and site of New Zealand’s first wind turbine: at 33 metres tall it is dwarfed by those built today.
It’s amazing that within such a short time we are well out of the city – for non-Kiwi readers, this is New Zealand’s capital, and the site of our parliament.
Some of the highlights of the trip for me (apart from my always-favourites, the seals and bird life) were the wildlife which included Kaimanawa horses and domestic deer. The horses originate from domestic horses owned by early settlers and which are now a large (problematic) wild herd in the middle of the North Island.
I also loved the views of the city, harbour, Cook Strait and the snow-capped mountains of the wonderful South Island. As you can imagine, traveling along a fault line, and with exclusive access through private land, provided many photo opportunities, and our surf-loving, singing, meditating, and artist (painting) driver loved sharing his knowledge with us.
So local or visitor I can recommend this. (See another piece I wrote about this tour and Maori myths)
Here are just some of the photos I took during the morning.