In mid July every year, all over Mongolia, business in the boomtown capital of Ulaanbaatar and in the tiny towns dotting the country comes to a standstill — as day laborers, miners, shopkeepers and almost every man, woman, and child head to their yurts to prepare for the Naadam Festival.
New Orleans is a drinking city. From the oldest bar in America, to legally being able to take your drink outside in a “go cup,” to drive-through daiquiris, and the invention of the Sazerac cocktail, NOLA is all about booze culture. But where to go? The city is packed with bars, so on my recent visit with my dog Karl, I checked out quite a few — and now present the top three spots. Continue reading →
Strolling through the Cities of the Dead with the Mary Poppins of dead people isn’t as creepy as it sounds, I swear. But it does make the city come alive in ways you’ve never imagined. Continue reading →
In the far north of Australia, past the vineyards of the Blue Mountains, the surfing Hotspots outside of Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, is a mystical magical part of the country many overlook – but shouldn’t. Kakadu National park is like a time capsule from the Jurassic era – everything here is bigger and weirder than anywhere else in the world. The termite mounds can grow up to 30 feet high, the rivers are teeming with super sixed crocodiles and the billabongs support thousands of forms of plant and animal life not seen anywhere else in the world (There are ants that are bright yellow, and if you lick their underbellies they taste like a lemon lime soda – not kidding!).
The entire park is the size of New Jersey and is full of breathtaking waterfalls that fall from cliffs which hide ancient Aboriginal artwork, some of which is thought to be over 45,000 years old. It is a land of magic and beauty – and should not be missed.
One of the great wonders of Mongolia is a place in the Gobi Desert called The Khongoryn Els, otherwise known as the Singing Sand Dunes.
Towering up to 300 meters high, these skyscraper high dunes are one of only 30 in the world with the exact perfect conditions—the consistency of the sand, the length, the height, the angle to the wind, etc.— to sing… When you climb high enough (and this is no mean feat. Again, they are 300 meters high and while the wind does blow, it’s close to 94 degrees out) the wind will whip up and the sand starts to sing.
Photo by Roberto Esposti/Alamy Stock Photo. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
Marco Polo once described the music at these dunes as, “the sounds of all kind of musical instruments and also the clash of arms.”
The majesty of late afternoon at Khongoryn Els. (Photo: Thinkstock)
It is some of the most beautiful music you will hear… But you have to get there first. And it’s no cake walk. Just check out the video!
Huge thanks to Intrepid Travel for showing me this incredible natural wonder.
Photo by Getty Images. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
Deep in the Gobi Desert is an explorer’s dream: a real life dinosaur graveyard. Sixty million years ago, velociraptors and other dinosaurs roamed this part of the earth, which was then a grassy, leafy area. Now a stark desert, it is filled with their bones.
This site, Byanazag, otherwise known as the Flaming Cliffs, is especially famous because in the 1920s, American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews discovered dinosaur eggs there — proving dinosaurs were reptilian and didn’t have live births. Today, discoveries are still made every day.
The Flaming Cliffs of Mongolia are full of dinosaur bones.
Unlike sites in other parts of the world, in Mongolia you can still wander around unobstructed on these cliffs. What looks like stone may be bone, but you have to lick it to see.
My guide, Timur Yadamsuren from Intrepid Travel, elucidated: “You have to lick it — if your tongue sticks to it, it is bone. If it doesn’t, it is stone.” [Note: It is entirely possible Timur was messing with me and just wanted me to lick a bunch of stones, but some did stick and others didn’t so…]
However, if you do find dino bones (and, according to my sticky tongue, I did), it is illegal to remove them.
“You must take them to the museum or alert the government,” according to Timur.
An added bonus to this graveyard is the landscape, which, not unlike the Badlands in South Dakota, is made up of red and orange sandstone. So when the sun sets and the light strikes the cliffs, they look like they are on fire (hence the name, the Flaming Cliffs). It is a truly magical, mythical place and not one to be missed, especially for those of us who grew up dreaming of dinosaurs.