Central Asia

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Mongolia, a land of majestic clear-watered lakes and mountains. Reindeer herders sharing respect and sustaining their livelihoods for centuries. Bush camping at its best. We visited The Amarbayasgalant monas­teries considered the second most important in Mongolia after Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin and the most intact architectural complex in Mon­golia located in a valley 360 km from Ulaanbaatar, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, The Przewalski’s horse or takhi, the last wild horse in the world has been successfully reintroduced into the wild in the Hustai National Park in Tuv aimag. The landscape ranges from grassland steppe to forest steppe. We visited the Gobi Desert and the 100 km long Khongoriin Elsor the Singing Dunes reach as  high as 800 m and create the largest accumulation of sand in the Gobi desert. But the highlight of our visit was the Nadaam festival around Ulan Bataar. This is the biggest festival of the Mongolian year celebrated nationwide. Nadaam is properly know as “Eryn gurvan naadam”, after the three manly games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery making up the core activities of the National Festival.

 

China the next destination; we travelled through the middle North to South (Tibet was closed for self drive overlanders) visiting Ancient towns and villages where traditions are well-preserved in terms of architectures, lifestyles, folk songs and crafts. We visited Tunxi, Hongcun and Xidi at the foot of Mountain Huangshan. Zhouzhuang, Wuzhen and Zhujiajiao are representatives of South China water towns, while, Pingyao is a typical Chinese town in Northern China. Ancient villages in the southwest of China are the best places to see the traditional lifestyle of ethnic minorities, such as the Lijiang ancient town in Yunnan. Yangtze River, yellow river and we camped in some interesting riverside towns. In Xian we visited the Terracotta Warriors and the Qin Emperor’s tombs with thousands of year’s history. China has many famous ancient cities and counties with diverse features.