Jim just returned from a trip to Mongolia for the Naddam festival of wrestling, horse racing, and archery, that Zoom created just for him. He has been on a number of Zoom Vacations tours, and we have featured him a few times, but Mongolia is a place few tourists have been, and we are sure that our travelers would be interested in hearing about Jim's experience there!
Zoom: Why did you want to go to Mongolia?
Jim: After visiting 105 countries it’s getting hard to find unique, remote and unspoiled place. Mongolia is all of those and has a very interesting culture. Plus the Naddam festival is such a great photographic opportunity that I had to see it.
Zoom: Why did you hire Zoom to create this experience for you?
Jim: Zoom does all my special vacation planning. The service is very personal and the trips are always well thought-out, with special touches.
Zoom: What is Mongolia like?
Jim: It’s a very old culture with incredible history. The Mongols are nomadic and so that drives much of the culture.
Zoom: What were your highlights?
Jim: I loved watching the sunset from the top of the dunes in the Gobi dessert, Riding horses along Asia’s second largest lake and seeing the Naddam festival, which is an amazing centuries old tournament.
Zoom: What were your challenges?
Jim: Mongolia is still pretty remote once you get outside Ulan Baater. The roads may be only tire tracks and there may be nothing for miles except Gers (Nomadic tents)
Zoom: What would you say to people who want to go to Mongolia?
Jim: Do it and do it soon, before it gets overrun.
Zoom: How is it different from other places you have visited?
Jim: It’s very sparsely populated and the vast landscapes are really unique. It’s the most remote place I have been.
Zoom: Of all the other places you have been, which seems the closest in culture to Mongolia?
Jim: Well China and Russia were both conquered by and conquerors of, so the cultures have many of the elements of both countries.
Zoom: How were you treated by local people?
Jim: The people are very hospitable and you can go up to a Nomadic home and they will invite you in for tea! They are as a culture very introverted so they don’t just chat with you as in some places.
Zoom: What was the food like? Are there special dishes and/or beverages?
Jim: So in Ulan Baater there are the usual international dishes but outside the city you will be eating at camps and most of what you eat will be kind of boring. Lots of boiled meats, thin soups, vegetables and local breads or cheeses. Hearty and filling but not gourmet in most cases. If you attend during Naddam you can try fermented mare’s milk and other local holiday treats. Dumplings (Buzz) and meat filled, turnover-like pastries (Huushur) are popular.
Zoom: We are looking forward to your next great adventure, Jim!