Into the Hills

Took an overnight trip into one of the national parks to see more of Mongolia – including staying in a traditional felt tent, which are apparently called ‘gers’, instead of ‘yurts’. The setting was absolutely stunning, with green and brown steppe rolling off to the horizon. The afternoon included some ‘horse-riding’, but this was strictly a token gesture – no riding was required, just sitting atop a tired-looking Monglian horse (they’re tiny) while it did what the guide told it. We were looked after by a local family, who have four gers in addition to their own home – which was made of wood, not felt, and contains the rudiments of modern living – a sink, a tub-loading washing machine, and a PC running a 3D shooter. The mains power was visible, no sign of a phone line, but I had full GSM signal strength (so, better than my flat in Edinburgh, then) the whole time, so maybe they’re online as well. Scary.

Modern Conveniences

In general, rural Mongolia looks like a terrain rendering demo. If you take a detailed height map, apply a generic, featurless green/brown texture, some nice, strongly directional dynamic lighting and a sparse covering of trees, you get Mongolia. If you want to get really fancy, add some sandstone rock outcrops. I’d love to return with some proper climbing gear – all around were places that looked climbable with some basic equipment – I ascended a couple of metres in a few places, but descending is trickier, and Mongolia is not the place to injure oneself.

Mongolian Horses



Despite being pretty warm during the day, at night the temperature dropped fast, so the wood-burning stove in the ger was lit. This lump of cast iron rapidly became very hot, and combined with the insulating walls of the ger, and a thick duvet, a good night’s sleep was had. That night was almost a full-moon, which sadly precluded seeing many stars – but for the first time ever, I witnessed really clear moon shadows, beautiful.


Posted Monday, June 30th, 2008 under 3d, travel.


  1. I didn’t think you had your mobile out there? – but yes, I had full signal…

    And yes, injuring yourself in Mongolia would be a bad idea – especially if you then had to walk and walk and then walk some more once you got to Beijing.

  2. I’ve been told that walking Beijing is not the best plan.

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