Back From Mongolia
July 17th, 2012

I’m writing this post somewhere between Beijing and Chicago on my way home from the Mongolia Within The Frame photographic adventure. It was a relentless pace on some extremely bumpy and dusty non-roads. In fact, I’m thinking of renaming this one Gobi Dust Within Everything! However, it was absolutely brilliant. We had a sinceriously great time with sinceriously great people. (Yes, go ahead and add “sinceriously” to your dictionaries. It was coined in the Gobi by a participant of wonderful fusion herself.)

We photographed nomads on horses, archers competing at bowling (you’d have to see it), sand dunes, cliffs, gers, big skies, small plants, camels, goats, sunrises, sunsets, each other, etc. There was a lot of photography, but there was also so much more. We bounced around together for hours on end in the 4×4s that we both hated and loved. We wondered if we would ever see a tree again. We huddled around fires in our gers to keep warm and dry after a torrential downpour. We shared wine from Argentina. We survived loud Italians and lack of both water and electricity in a fancy ger camp that left us nostalgic for the more rustic ones. We bargained for generator time at ger camps that don’t understand that photographers don’t want electricity only during sunset. We laughed. A lot. We joked about food and added hot sauce to everything. We tried to figure out the culture and intricacies of Mongolia, and (at least) three participants had done a lot of research before arriving and were a wealth of knowledge. We sat around and talked. We listened to an eclectic selection of music. There may have also been some Mongolian vodka. We had great drivers and a truly personable, knowledgeable, and friendly guide, whom I now consider to be a friend. I look forward to meeting up with him again to share Mongolia or music. (But probably not Mongolian music. Well, OK, maybe.)

Friendships are not usually what one plans to take away from an adventure like this. However, I saw some strong friendships form. There was a lot of talk and planning of other trips that the participants will take together. David and I are even planning a WTF that will involve one of the Mongolia WTF participants. I know that I will visit some of them. (I should warn all future WTFers to never invite a traveler to visit unless you actually desire for them to visit as we will indeed visit.)

This was a fabulous group of people (as so many Within The Frames are). Nobody even jumped out of the vehicle when I decided to drive through the Gobi. (What a blast!)

This was my first trip to Mongolia. It had been on my list for years. I expected to like it—to really like it. But it beat my expectations. I’ll be going back to Mongolia. Perhaps often. It’s a large country. Our drivers told us that we saw about 5% of the country. That leaves a lot left to be explored. Bring on the head-crushing bouncing and dust!

Here are a few snapshots I made along the way with my iPhone. (My DSLR photographs are still all in camera.)

7 Responses to “Back From Mongolia”

  1. It sounds like a sinceriously fun adventure! The photos are distracting me with new travel daydreams – I particularly love the eroded cliff face and that lone tree.

  2. Jeffrey, I’m envious! Sounded like a great adventure, personally, professionally and grammatically :)

    I’m looking forward to seeing some of your images and hearing more stories. And what was that about visiting? Hrumph.

    Stephen

  3. Patrick says:

    Hi, what’s with the post process of the third picture? I guess too much dodging around the man and the horse?

  4. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Stephen, I will make it there. Promise!

    Patrick, there was no dodging — at least none that I did. It’s just how the app Camera+ processed the photograph. While not intentional, and certainly questionable in its desirability, I kind of like it as it reminds me of the mystical nature of this guy galloping towards us at full speed (across a river), stopping, and pulling out a bowl and a bottle of arak to offer us drinks. It was very unexpected, and contrary to previous reports, the arak was quite tasty.

  5. Melissa Reed says:

    Not expecting to leave with friendships?!? How sad! I truly treasured the connections and friendships I made in Liguria this past spring. Meeting different people from many different walks of life and connecting with them is what took that trip to a new level for me…so glad I did it!

  6. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Hi Melissa, I love and treasure the friendships made during Within The Frames, but each is indeed an unexpected treasure. I hope for many more!

  7. Bella says:

    Hi that sounds great, I’ll going this June to Mongolia as well! The flight was a little bother ful going up to 3000 pounds. But I got a deal.
    I can’t wait till I go everywhere in Mongolia it looks amazing. I will hang around mostly near the city and other places , go mountain climbing and horse riding! Maybe archery for the naadam haha!
    But I also liked the thought of going in winter to the ski resort and try Mongolian ski ing while am at it. So beautiful absolutely can’t wait!

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