Outer Mongolia.. It sounds like the back-arse of nowhere. Indeed, if you leave the thriving city of Ulan Bataar – it IS.

There is so much open space here – 1.5m sq/km for 2.5m people… ie just under 2 people per sq km.

Considering that 1m of these live in the main city UB – you can see why the country is so wild.

Wake up on the train from China – you are crossing the Gobi Dessert. Just you, on a train and thousands of sq km of dessert that the train track cuts through.

Look carefuly you can see carcasses of some poor animal dry and picked clean, just lying there.

NB: The difference between Outer and Inner Mongolia?

Inner Mongolia is distinct from Outer Mongolia, which was a term used by the Republic of China and previous governments to refer to what is now the independent state of Mongolia.Inner” and “Outer” imply a perspective centered on China. ie – the bit nearest China was called Inner Mongolia and Mongolia the COUNTRY itself was called Outer Mongolia.

EG – if the brits called Northern Ireland – Inner Ireland, they would have called Ireland proper Outer Ireland.

Most people, when doing the Trans Mongolian (Beijing, across Mongolia to Ulan Bataar then up to Irkukst in Siberia to join the trans-siberian) either stay on the train for the full 5 days to Moscow non-stop.

OR take 2 or 3 days in UB to do a quick tour with a local tour company.

ME – my plan was to stop, get my Russian Visa and then carry on. However – i wasnt banking on the Russians not liking the state of my passport (it got wet in Laos) .

SO – as the video at the bottom of the page shows, i had to get a new passport and then get the visa ( i apologise for losing it in the immigration office).

End story – just under 1 month in Outer Mongolia; more than enough time to get to know the city, the people, become a card carrying member of a nightclub and even star in a beer commercial (as you do).

This country is just WAITING for an explosion in tourism and become a destination in it’s own right – and not just a stop off.

I expect, the Beijing Olympics will help fuel this – but… look into it.

Its an amazing place. Having time to meet people such as locals and expats who work on VSO projects there – i made some great friends and learnt some incredible facts.

Example: An advert for a position as a bank-teller, has no problem stating qualifications must include the candidate being “female, tall, slim and pretty.”

Problem is – most of them are.

Further, it gave me time to locate a more ‘realistic’ tourism experience to get out into the wilderness- and not just some tourist camp set up for the folks jumping off the train.

The video is below of what a fantastic experience i had through a sustainable tourism initiative called Ger to Ger, and also where i took m ost of these shots. If you are planning an excursion -as you must – use these people. http://www.gertoger.org/

You, a sheet of paper with some language help and them with the same.

The real deal – riding horses on the Steppes going to real nomadic Gers (a Ger is a tent-like house structure- not disimilar to a canvas igloo) Watch the video below and see why its so incredible.

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Title: Trans-Mongolian-Train
Description: Train across Gobi from Beijing to UB

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Title: Mongolian-Outback
Description: Chris lives with Nomadic Tribes

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Title: Mongolian-Advert
Description: Chris stars on TV in Mongolia

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Title: Visa-Issues
Description: Chris loses it with passport issues