Ian Wright travels through the grasslands, mountains
and deserts of Mongolia. He begins his journey in China's
Beijing, once the ancient capital of
the Mongolian Empire, and catches the train to the present
day capital - Ulaan Baatar. For 67
years Mongolia was part of the Eastern Block, but when
the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 the Russians pulled
out. Mongolia has a population of 2.3 million and over
a quarter live in Ulaan Baatar.
After changing some money on the black market, Ian
visits the Gandan Monastery. It is
one of the few Buddhist monasteries to survive the Stalinist
purges of the 1930s. Kubla Khan, the grandson of Ghengis
Khan was responsible for bringing Buddhism to Mongolia
Ian travels south west from Ulaan Baatar to Karakorum.
In the 13th century, Karakorum was the capital of Mongolia.
Only a few stones are left of what used to be an amazing
city full of temples, fountains and palaces. It was
from here that Genghis Khan used to rule his entire
empire, the largest the world has ever known.
After hearing Mongolian throat singing,
where several notes are made simultaneously deep in
the throat, Ian eats the national dish - mutton. It's
impossible to avoid mutton for long in Mongolia, and
even when you're not eating it you can always smell
On the move again, Ian travels south across the plains
and comes across some nomads who live in a traditional
ger. Ian sets out on horseback to go marmot hunting.
The traditional skills of tracking, hunting and cooking
are handed down from generation to generation.
Ian's next destination is 300 miles south in the Gobi
Desert, the least populated area of the country.
Ian spends the night in a tourist ger camp and the next
day sets out for the nearby Valley of the Dinosaurs.
Seventy million years ago parts of the Gobi were home
to dinosaurs, and archaeologists have discovered that
there are hundreds of bones, fossilised footprints and
eggs here. Ian and a local ranger find dinosaur rib
and spine bones.
Before leaving the Gobi, Ian is determined to see some
sand dunes (97% of the Gobi is instead grass, scrub
and rock) and the rare two humped Mongolian camel. He
rides out into the sand on a camel before taking a small
plane back to Ulaan Baatar.
Ian arrives back in Ulaan Baatar in time for the annual
3 day Naadam Festival. Naadam is a
huge contest of 'Three Manly Sports' - archery, wrestling
and horseracing. Ian gets a good vantage point and sees
huthendreds and hundreds of horses coming over the plains
towards him, ridden not by adults but by Mongolian girls
and boys aged between 5 and 13.