The Nature of a Place
The Road Less Traveled
In Mongolia, it turns out the road less traveled isn’t a road at all. It’s dirt. And fields. And valleys. And hillsides. Lots and lots of hillsides. While slight apprehension mingles with profound excitement and curiosity at the journey to be ventured, it becomes clear that what is, to us, another adventure to be had is, to some, a way of life. The absence of roads is only a small plot line in a larger, more elaborate story of enduring essentialism—one born out of the richness of simplicity. It is here that joy and contentment are as prevalent as the sprawling valleys and abounding plains. Where the infringement of materialism and modernity seldom rears its discontented head. It is in this place free of roads and material abundance, that it is possible to be freed from the allure of the nonessential. It is here that the simple is often the most essential.
THE FOREIGN AND FAMILIAR
The originality of the Mongolian culture has been kept so pristine, so polished, it feels almost as if—as visitors—we’re simply curious viewers lucky enough to catch small glimpses into an exposé of a completely foreign daily life. It’s as if we’ve been cast into the cultural narrative of this place, giving us an exotic viewership of someone else's normalcy. This outsider status makes it challenging, at first, to connect our experiences to theirs. Upon entering a family ger, at once the dissimilarities between visitor and native are made glaringly obvious—the single-room home, the handmade furniture, the nomadic lifestyle. But a closer look beyond the foreign—to the family photos, the household routines, and the sense of communal gathering—reveals the underlying commonalities of humanity that bond outsider and insider through the familiarity of universally shared experiences.
THE SHAPE OF TIME
You can’t help but feel connected to history in this place. As the cradle of civilization, it at once feels so distant, so far away from current existence—yet so near. It’s as if the distance of time itself shrinks, connecting you ever closer to the past. It’s this proximity to bygone eras and empires that miraculously juxtaposes time with place. The result is a richness of culture and creation that starkly contrasts its simple and secluded surroundings. Here, in this place, one can feel connected to old and new, to permanence and transience—to past, and to present.