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This is Part 12 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Photo Report here. After giving you my First impressions on the unique Mongolian car landscape, I now take you to Terelj National Park, 80 km East of the capital Ulaanbaatar and already complete countryside. What I first observed in Ulaanbaatar is still valid here, namely a huge part of the car landscape is composed of the first two generations Toyota Prius. I have also seen proportionally more Toyota Verossa in this part of the country.
As far as new models are concerned, the clear large SUV trend I described in Ulaanbaatar is understandably even more pronounced here, even though the road from Ulaanbaatar to Telej is sealed all the way and in perfect condition. It is even being upgraded in some parts which I will talk more about soon. Given the Terelj Hotel, the most luxurious hotel in the country, is a typical weekend destination for cashed-up inhabitants of Ulaanbaatar, I spotted many Toyota Land Cruiser on my way to Terelj and a few Lexus LX, Infiniti QX and Nissan Patrol.
This was for me the opportunity to discover the ‘real’ Mongolia, sleep in a traditional ger and check out the eagles, camels, yaks and horses that are emblematic of the country, while still keeping an eye on the cars passing by on the road of course… I have had a few questions from you asking whether Mongolia was already too ‘commercialised’. While it is obvious the country is probably a lot more developed and touristic than say ten years ago, it is not a walk in the park and you have to ‘earn’ your Mongolian experience.
What is heart-warming is to see a large part of the Mongolian people now actually living the life they had been dreaming about for decades and enjoying every minute of it. While they have embraced consumerism whole-heartedly, they are doing so very pragmatically, with caution and most importantly without losing themselves, in a typically Buddhist way. The Mongolian modern identity is unique and has a multitude of facets including modern ‘Mongol pop’ music which mixes traditional instruments with contemporary sounds, and very present traditional costumes it is not rare to see worn in the street or around ger camps.
Back to reality and a last observation about this little hop out of the Ulaanbaatar traffic jams is that most of the heavy trucks catering for the road work I saw along the way are Chinese: the Foton Auman is the most popular with construction companies, some with an interesting and very prominent ‘Produced by Foton Daimler’ announcement, as are the Sinotruck and Dongfeng brands. I also saw a Wuzheng truck which is a brand I didn’t know before…
That’s all for Terelj, and for once I can’t tell you what the next stop will be because I am not sure whether there actually are cars there! So it’ll be a surprise…
See the Full Photo Report below.