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Mongolia travel guide

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Mongolia

Where have all the Ghengis Khans gone?

Embodying the hip spirit of an abandoned downtown squat inhabited by wanderers, Mongolia exudes pure Genghis chic. Small in population but big in size, Mongolia boosts one's credibility for adventuresome cool as soon as one sets foot there. Mongolian boots are meant for walking, and from the knee-high black leather boots of the country's glamorous women to the ornate leather masterpieces worn by the herders, you are defined by your boots. As the country emerges from a period of socioeconomic struggle, buds of hope are popping up all over, including the planned opening of a new luxury Hilton hotel in the country's capital, Ulan Bator. Sleep in a ger, chase falcons across the steppe on horseback, eat barbequed meat (How about camel?) and sample the vodka du jour - including one named for the first Mongolian cosmonaut. The roads are few, and, as one gets further away from Ulan Bator's Socialist-inspired central square and recently restored massive Genghis Khan statue, the trappings of civilization fewer. This is a country built on herding, with the July Naadam holiday attracting visitors from all over the world to watch and participate in archery, riding, and wrestling competitions. For those who can't get enough of the tough stuff, join the annual five-day Gobi march - an ultra-Gobi marathon in which competitors race across the entire desert! Face it, anyone with money can buy a ticket to Paris, but traveling through Mongolia takes character.

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