- April 2010
This issue we are exploring some of Mongolia’s treasures as well as highlighting our Yangshuo quick breaks. We are also very excited to announce our new Yunnan trip and Mongolian horse riding extension.
Imagine yourself in landscape so vast it seems to roll on forever under azure blue skies stretched out across the horizon. The cycling is an off-roaders dream that brings you into contact with a welcoming yet raw culture which is pretty much pitted at the other end of the spectrum to your own daily life. A land of adventure which never fails to amaze all those brazen enough to get out there and embrace everything it has to offer. Come join us in Mongolia!
A Land of Horses & Nomads
Despite only 30% of the Mongolian population still living a traditional nomadic lifestyle they maintain more than 3 million horses across the steppe, desert and forests.
The Mongolian horse is a breed closely related to the Przewalski – the world’s last living wild horse. With a big head and shorter legs than most the sturdy Mongolian horse is sometimes mistaken for a pony, however the hardiness of these treasured animals should not be underestimated. They roam a wild land with temperatures that drop to -40 degrees Celsius in the long harsh winters.
Nomadic Dietary Delights
One thing that will linger long in your memory is a visit to a local nomadic family ger and your first sip of airag (also known as mare’s milk). With an unusual tangy taste this slightly alcoholic beverage is a staple of the nomadic Mongolian’s diet. Highly nutritious after fermentation it is also lactose free and the perfect beverage to try and soften the piece of curd you have been likely chewing on for the previous few minutes. Made from the solid portion of curdled milk from yak, cattle and camels – these pieces of sometimes sweet sometimes sour delicacies can often be seen drying on the roof of a ger in the warm summer sunshine.
A traditional combination of cultural offerings that is not to be missed!
Did you know?
There are more horses in Mongolia than people! The equine population of 3 million exceeds the World Bank’s 2008 survey findings which found the human population to be just 2.6 million.
Sensational Sports Mongolia Style
Horse racing is the second most important sport in Mongolia after wrestling. However, if your mind has already formed a picture of well groomed race tracks with the crowds contained behind barrier fences then think again. Horse races are cross country events and can be up to 35 klms (22 miles) in distance. Usually the jockeys or riders are children aged between 5 and 13 years of age and in the spirit of celebration the first six horses, & riders, to cross the finish line are awarded titles. Possibly a first for horse racing though, is that the last horse to cross the line also receives an encouragement award.
One of the best times to see traditional horse racing in Mongolia is the Naadam festival.
Mongolia's Naadam Festival
Naadam or “the three games of men” is held in July each year and is the most celebrated event in Mongolia. Bound by hundreds of years of tradition, Naadam features wrestling, horse racing and archery drawing in thousands from the outer reaches of the country to the capital Ulaanbaatar.
The wrestlers are truly a sight on the field, with huge manly specimens dressed in what can only be described as colourful bikini bottoms and vests. The winners receive a range of titles depending on how many rounds they progress through and it if they are perhaps the very best they may just earn the title “Eye-pleasing Nationally Famous Mighty and Invincible Giant”.
Almost as impressive are the archers dressed in the traditional “Deel”, shooting off arrows at a series of targets some 75 metres (246 feet) away. People don’t only visit Naadam for the sports, it is a celebration and tradition which has proudly been carried out for hundreds of years – people come to have a good time, enjoy the festive atmosphere and take part in “the games of men” just as it is rumoured to have been done in the days of the great Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan).
Mongolian Horse Riding Extension
As the horse is such an integral part of Mongolian life we want to ensure all our passengers have the chance to experience the carefree excitement of galloping across the grasslands on a spirited Mongolian horse.
We are happy to announce the following 4 day special Horse Riding extension. It is the ideal accompaniment to your Mongolian cycling trip and we are fairly confident that you will love it!
- English-speaking guide
- Local Horseman/wrangler
- Australian saddle and riding helmet
- 3 nights accommodation
- All meals
- Return transport to Ulaanbaatar
- National Park Entry Fee
Terelj National Park is a fantastic location for horse riding with a mix of bald and forested rolling hills seemingly decorated with huge rocks and boulders, that skim around valleys of wide open grasslands.
A basic itinerary is as follows:
Day 1 Travel out to Terelj National Park (Tourist Ger Camp)
Day 2 Ride from A to B. (Camp/Tourist Ger Camp)
Day 3 Ride from B to C. (Camp/Tourist Ger Camp)
Day 4 Ride from C to D. (Transfer back to UB.)
Sorry if the itinerary sounds a little bare with just point A to point B but in true nomad fashion this is changeable depending on local conditions at the time and how much you want to ride! Expect an estimated riding time of 5-6 hours per day.
All inclusive price per person: US$545
This extension offer is not yet available on our website – contact us via email to arrange.
Join us in Mongolia!
Bookings on our Mongolian trips have been pretty hot over the past couple of months but we do still have some availability. Why not come join us just as a few Aussie legends (football great Ron Barassi, Federal Trade Minister Simon Crean, America’s Cup winning skipper John Bertrand, former AFL commissioner David Shaw and friends) did a couple of years ago.
To read more about Ron and the boys, click here to head to our media page.
To find out more about our Mongolia trips, click here.
Bike Asia Handy Travel Tips & Info
American citizens and passport holders do not need to apply for a tourist visa for Mongolia in accordance with the agreement signed between the two countries in 2001. Entrance of up to 90 days is granted on arrival.
Other nationalities are still required to arrange a tourist visa prior to arrival.
Yangshuo Quick Escapes
If you are in our region and you don’t have a lot of time to spare but still want to enjoy a taste of some of China’s most spectacular landscapes then take a look at our short Yangshuo trips. Filled with adventure and active options you are in control of your experience as each trip is a private departure with the inclusion of a local guide. This means you can start the trip on any day which suits your itinerary, cycle at your own pace and select the options which appeal the most to you.
Our 7 day Mountains & Minorities trip takes you from the stunning Long-ji rice terraces to the magical limestone karsts of Yangshuo. With fantastic on and off road cycling you will journey through Zhang, Yao and Miao homelands on a path that is definitely off the beaten track. This itinerary is actually the final 7 days of our Trail of the Dragon trip which was cited by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the World’s Best New Adventure Trips for 2007.
To read more about Mountains & Monasteries click here.
For other options check out our Yangshuo Family, Yangshuo Adventure and Yangshuo Highlights itineraries. All are five days in length, come with an excellent array of inclusions and are designed to take you off the usual tourist trails.
The great range of awesome activities on offer in and around Yangshuo make the region a truly accessible, cultural adventure playground, that is just sitting here waiting for you to discover what we already know.
To read more about our Yangshuo adventures click here.
Bike Asia Handy Travel Tips & Info
It has never been easier to visit Yangshuo, particularly for our readers based in Australia and around Asia.
Last year award winning discount carrier, Air Asia started direct daily flights into Guilin airport from Kuala Lumpur and has recently expanded the range of Air Asia X flights from the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth to Kuala Lumpur.
This means it is not only economical to get here but convenient as well. Come explore the wonders of the region we like to call home.
When Scott, one Bike Asia’s founding directors, was out leading a Tiger Leaping Gorgeous trip last year a chance glance over his shoulder and a bit of curiosity combined to bring you a mind-blowing new Bike Asia cycling adventure in China – The Magic & Majesty of Shangri La.
New Trip!!! The Magic & Majesty of Shangri La
As we set off on the bikes from the small village of Haba on the long winding downhill into Tiger Leaping Gorge, I happened to glance back up the road. It disappeared over a huge mountain with even larger peaks looming beyond. I hadn’t cycled that road before and as the images of possibility flashed through my mind I became fixated on what existed on the other side, as the foothills of the Himalaya ascended to the dazzling heights of the Tibetan plateau. So much so that after the tour I returned with my bike to see if the realities could match my imagination – I was certainly not disappointed!
The route I decided upon started in Zhongdian, a town gearing up for an influx of tourists but still retaining its old charm. I discovered some fantastic wilderness for hikes, great off-road cycling, beautiful Tibetan architecture and limpid hot springs. From there I headed west to cross the mighty Yangtze River and then made my way up to the Tibetan border town of Deqin.
The route featured some big, big descents and some dizzying climbs through the White Horse Snow Mountain National Park. At Deqin, I had idled away a day gazing at the regions most sacred peak, Mei Li Snow Mountain. Heading back east and dropping into the upper reaches of the Mekong River valley the road was again superb - almost no traffic and utterly indescribable views as the gradual descent into a wide valley saw the Tibetan houses slowly give way to Lisu, Naxi and Han villages.
Being overwhelmingly welcomed along this route by the many wonderful people in this little traveled region was a highlight, as was being treated to all the delicious local specialties. I even visited a still operating “turn of the century”, French missionary built, Catholic Church where the hymns resembled Tibetan chants and the icons were painted on Tibetan Thankas.
Staying in a remote Tibetan monastery I was amazingly introduced to the rare, endangered Golden Haired Monkey and was pretty satisfied by this stage that this unique region would certainly appeal to our intrepid clients.
We are excited to announce our new “The Magic and Majesty of Shangri La” itinerary. To celebrate its introduction we would like to offer the following special deal on the first (and only) 2010 departure (4 September - 18 September 2010). 20% off for the first 5 people to book on the trip!
To read more about this stunning new trip and see the 2011 dates, click here.
Special ... Special ... Special ... Last Minute Discount!!!
Our May 8 Tiger Leaping Gorgeous trip is guaranteed to depart and we are offering 20% off on any late bookings.
Wow! That’s it for this month. There is a lot happening here at Bike Asia in the coming months so make sure you stay in touch, and if you happen to know anyone who you think might like to receive our e-newsletter please don’t keep us a secret!!!
We look forward to hearing from you or seeing you on the road in 2010.
Naomi, Scott and the whole Bike Asia team!
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