When I first landed in Mongolia, I was not prepared for Ulan Bator. The sprawling capital has one million inhabitants. "I did not come for city life, I came to live like a nomad," I thought to myself.
Less than an hour away from this metropolis, I encountered what "off the beaten path" truly means. I saw a spectacular world of rare species and untouched landscapes. Camels, yaks and marmots roamed the land freely. With over 200 days of sunshine, many refer to Mongolia as the "land of blue skies." Traveling in July, the weather was on my side.
Most Mongolians still live a nomadic lifestyle today. To maintain the ability to pack up and leave, Mongolians live in traditional circular houses named "gers." A ger can be built in 20 minutes start to finish.
Everything was different in Mongolia. Unlike in western countries, wealth is often determined by the amount of livestock a family owns, rather than how big their house is or what model car they drive. A third of Mongolia's population lives below the world poverty line. The average income in Mongolia is $100 per month. A far cry from life in New York City.