Travel and Leisure

Experience Amazing Culture of Mongolia

Hospitality is a word united by many cultures. I heard that a nation was famous for its hospitality, but visiting the place I felt more contemptuous than welcome. It can be practically impossible to mix with the crowd because of my appearance (very normal Caucasian) and that can lead to the feeling that people are out of my money earned with so much effort instead of offering genuine hospitality. It is an interesting point; there is certainly an argument that the English do not deserve much hospitality considering our activities abroad, both modern and historical. However, they told me that Mongolia must experience an amazing culture of Mongolia. It was unique in its culture of hospitality.

In the great capital of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolian hospitality is gone. The last vestiges of the old tradition cling to previous generations as the pace of life accelerates and social custom is replaced by custom-made kitchen utensils. However, once one escapes the city, it is clear that Ulaanbaatar is an island in a sea of tradition and warmth, even during (and due to) the bitter winters and the scorching summers of the desert.

After spending 4 months traveling through the various regions of Mongolia, I feel that, although I am just beginning to know this very diverse and fascinating place, I could be qualified to make a brief comment about something very small in a very large place. There are too many to discuss even a fraction of the incredible hospitality experience I had while on the Mongolia tour package, so instead, I will describe the rules.

When one feels tired, cold, hot, thirsty or hungry, it is perfectly acceptable to open the door to the nearest ger (yurt) (Mongolian house) and enter. If no one is home, it would be normal to go to bed and sleep until the owners of the house return. Upon return, the uninvited guest would undoubtedly be offered more milk products than an udder could shake before asking if they needed a place to spend the night or even have dinner. It would be rude to try to pay any of the above, although small (and sometimes not so small) gifts are graciously accepted by the mother of the house to distribute to her family. I imagine that the distribution is based on which child has behaved greatly as our child bribery system.

Being so amazingly generous, sometimes to the point of making a guest feel a little awkward, makes perfect sense. There is no other way to travel through a country as vast as Mongolia, relying on the people you know and changing arms. However, in Mongolia, you are not changing anything. You will be fed, watered and protected by anyone in the field and this is a fact.

I would consider that my perspective on the hospitality of the United Kingdom and its current absence has changed. There are certain things to learn from the ancient Mongol civilization. However, if I found a group of foreigners, covered in dirt and smelly three weeks of walking, asleep in my bed at home, I certainly wouldn’t offer them dinner!

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