Conde Nast Traveler
Mongolia, STUNTS

Big Yak Attack

At this point, you're not doubt wondering whether or not I steer wrestled the yak, as I vowed to do during an uncharacteristic fit of emotion back in Hong Kong. So we saw a yak. We were driving out to the ger camp when I noticed a cow in the next field charging towards the UVZ. Why is that cow charging the car, I wondered. I asked Byambaa who said, "It's not a cow, it's a yak."

The yak, clearly, had read my blog. It was behind us now, but I stuck my head out the window and shouted a streak of trash talk that hasn't been heard round these parts since Genghis Kahn. The yak stood on its hind legs, pointed at his sharp horns, then at me, then drew his hoof across his throat, making the international sign of "you're a dead man." I told the yak to meet me here in four days, when we'd be on our way back. Four days later, no sign of the yak. He wimped out.

Mongolia, STUNTS

Broken-Down Russian Minivans; Wild Mongolian Horses

"Get your motor runnin'..."

Day 35: The UVZ, I'm sad to say, started showing signs of its price today. We headed out from camp, and I took a turn behind the wheel and freaking loved it. It's like driving a cross between a tractor and a minivan. The dashboard is punched out of a single sheet of metal. I have a strong sense that the UVZ factory hasn't changed much since the 1960s.

Continue reading "Broken-Down Russian Minivans; Wild Mongolian Horses" »

China, STUNTS, Video

Video: More from the Great Wall

Editor's Note:  More scenes from Mark's journey last week to the Great Wall.

Food and Drink, Russia, STUNTS

Moscow Restaurant Suggestions

I'm close to wrapping up my trip here in Mongolia.  The next stop will be Moscow where I will spend four days.  If you have any suggestions on where to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, please let me know.  Something old school, preferably--I can get fusion and minimalistic and all that stuff back home.  I'm looking for borscht and blinys and caviar. 

Gear, Mongolia, STUNTS

My Sorry Attempt at Fly Fishing in Mongolia

Any of you horses fly fish?

I have a regretful episode to tell you about that took place on my honeymoon. It was a 10-day tour of Tuscany, and we were staying at a remote and once-abandoned Tuscan village that had been renovated into a charming little resort. Since it was autumn, the place was abandoned again, and we had it all to ourselves. One afternoon, Laura and I took a walk down into the valley. As we sauntered under hardwood canopies, holding hands, finding new adjective-laden ways to describe our love--something my wife can do for hours--I regretted not having a truffle-sniffing pig or dog along.

Continue reading "My Sorry Attempt at Fly Fishing in Mongolia" »


Boxers vs. Briefs

Roseanne:  Finally, a good a question. Thank you for asking. I wear boxers. 100% cotton. I had a silk pair once, but the dryer was hard on them, and at that point in my life I lacked the maturity to hang dry. I packed eight pairs, all told. Twelve would have been better. Believe me. As far as Mongolians, heres what my guide tells me: Mainly boxers.

Food and Drink, Mongolia, STUNTS



Day 33:  To ride on horseback across the Mongolian steppe is to be reminded of the cycle of life...and probably more often than you'd like.  The dun-colored expanse may vanish in great magnificence on the distant horizon, but underfoot it is just dirt, tufts of overgrazed grass, and animal droppings blackened by the sun. Horses, cows, sheep, goats, and yaks leave their marks everywhere, and when there aren't droppings, there are bones (skulls, femurs, shoulder blades, vertebrae, a horn) all scattered about, sun bleached, and sunken into the dirt.

Continue reading "Grace " »

Food and Drink, STUNTS

KCRW Radio Interview: More on Food

Editor's Note: "Good Food," a show on Santa Monica's National Public Radio affiliate KCRW, caught up with Mark last week while he was in China. 

Click here
to listen to Mark recount his meal at Water's Head village by the Great Wall and offer his thoughts on why getting a good local recommendation in Beijing is more difficult then it sounds.

Mongolia, STUNTS

Great Buys in Mongolia: Cashmere and Horsemeat


Day 32: We were on our way to pick up the horsemeat when I heard the greatest sentence yet uttered in the English language: "Let's go to the cashmere factory outlet store."

Let me back up a moment. I had just spent my first night in Mongolia, in Tower A of Ulaan Bataar's Hotel Bayangol, a Soviet-style edifice notable for the fabulous neon sign hanging over its restaurant, but not much else. Byambaa, my guide, picked me up at nine that morning and we piled into a funny-looking vehicle called an UVZ 3909 and drove west out of the city, headed towards a Mongolian ger camp.

Continue reading "Great Buys in Mongolia: Cashmere and Horsemeat" »

China, Mongolia, STUNTS

Train to Ulaan Bataar..."Wow"


Days 30-31: I took a gamble on the train to Ulaan Bataar. The first class berths have two beds, and I only bought one of them. Most people will tell you to buy both, if you can afford it, because the risk is high that you could get stuck bunking with some fat businessman from Hubei Province who chain smokes and sweats garlic oil. At first, my prospects didn't look so good. There was a mad crush of people to get on the train, most of whom had half their worldly belongings stuffed into cardboard boxes or white plastic bags.  When they opened the gates to let the people board, the people stampeded.

Continue reading "Train to Ulaan Bataar..."Wow"" »

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
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