All The Comforts Of Home
One of the most iconic experiences and images of Mongolia is the traditional home of nomads, the ger, also known as a yurt, in other areas of the Asian steppes. Made from a round wooden frame and felt covering, these tents are designed to keep out cold, sand, wind, and sun, and can be packed up and moved at the end of each season, or when it's time to find new pasture for grazing.
Gers have a central stove and wooden furniture-and now increasingly sport small solar panels and/or wind turbine, funded as a way to reduce dependency on carbon fuels.
The 2009 Land Rover G4 Challenge
The Land Rover G4 Challenge continues this British automaker's heritage of 4WD adventure. In addition to its Camel Trophy events, it also includes one of the world's best-known 4WD expeditions that took place in 1970, when two Range Rovers became the first vehicles to complete a land crossing of the Darien Gap swamplands that divide North America from South America.
This year for its second time, teams from the United States will join 17 other G4 Challenge participating nations: Australia, China, Netherlands, Turkey, Austria, France, Norway/Sweden, UK, Belgium/Luxemburg, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Italy, and Spain. Canada and China are also new for the third running of this event that premiered in 2003
Thousands of G4 competitors have been filtered out during National Selections in 2008 and more will be whittled down during International Selections in early 2009, tapping the top final two per country to represent their nation. The G4 Challenge International Selections event will take place at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, UK.
There are two United States teams flying over for the Selections. Lisa Lieb of Durango, Colorado, and Tom Lyons of Reno, Nevada, who took top honors at the 2008 Land Rover G4 Challenge Nevada Passage, a four-day-long, 1,000-mile adventure competition at Nellis Dunes. Also attending will be second-place team members, Peter Hanson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Sarah McMahan of Incline Village, Nevada.
For further information on the 2009 Land Rover G4 Challenge, go to www.landroverg4challenge.com
Fast Facts: Mongolia
When arriving at a traditional Ger, a visitor will say "nokhoi khorioroi," which means "call off the dog"-and should not carry a whip or weapon when entering.
* Remote Mongols tend not to shake hands with visitors, but greet by stretching their arms out wide.
* Mongols sometimes say: "The people eat the meat, the animals and the poor eat the vegetables."
* Mongolia secured final independence from China in 1921 and had a democratic reform in 1990, when there was a shift from dependence on the former Soviet Union.
* The country is split into 21 aimags (provinces) which are subdivided into 298 sums (districts).
* The capital, Ulaanbaatar, houses around 700,000 inhabitants-a major portion of the urban population still live in gers on the outskirts of town.
* The official language is Khalka Mongolian, spoken by around 75 percent of the population.
* Do receive food or drink with your right hand and use the left hand to support the right elbow
* Do sleep with your feet pointing towards the door
* Do Not whistle inside a ger, or point a knife towards anyone, even when cutting food
* Do Not put water or rubbish on a fire-it is sacred to Mongolians
* Do Not write anything in red pen
* When offered vodka, dip your right ring finger into the glass and flick three drops-to the sky, the wind, and the ground-then drink, or if you don't want any, put the same finger to your forehead.