Just finished reading the book In the Empire of Genghis Khan – An Amazing Odyssey Through the Lands of the Most Feared Conquerers in History by Stanley Stewart.
Stewart followed the footsteps of Friar William, who in the year 1253 set off into barbarian darkness to save the souls of the Mongolians and everyone else he would meet on his arduous trip into the unknown. Seven centuries later Stewart, leaving from Istanbul, and crossing southern Russia and Kazakhstan first, arrived in western Mongolia, from where he embarked on a thousand five hundred kilometers long journey on horse back: from Ölgii in the very west to Dadal in northeast Mongolia; crossing mountains, deserts, valleys, and forests, meeting all kinds of different people and strange characters, endless landscapes, and almost forgotten places. It was really hard to stop reading, but I told myself that I need to take it easy and read slowly so that I would be able to enjoy his descriptions of the landscapes, of the people, and of his own feelings of being on horseback for endless days. Who ever wants to travel in Mongolia should consider reading the book (In case anyone feels like reading the book, here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/In-Empire-Genghis-Khan-Conquerors/dp/1592281060). Stewart made this trip more than ten years ago, and I wonder whether the Mongolia of today is still the same as when Stewart undertook his long journey.
I also came across a very nice, low-key film called Das Lied von den zwei Pferden (the song of the two horses) by Byambasuren Davaa, who also made the Weeping Camel. Urna, the main character, is trying to have an old violin repaired and also wants to find the original text to a song that had originally been engraved in the instrument, but had been partly destroyed. Beautiful landscape scenes, meetings with shamans and with helpful local people, and nice Mongolian songs.