In defense of the family road trip:

Like many moody teenagers, I dreamt of suing my parents, but never more than after our first family road trip. I imagined bringing my mom and dad to the courthouse of public opinion in my mind, but I thought, why stop there? Why not sue my two sisters and make it a clean sweep? Maybe, just maybe, I could prevent these people from ruining any more lives.

This is my story. The story of the worst, most humiliating two weeks of my life. I’d change the names, but it would only protect the guilty.


William Kennedy: Your honor, I present the ladies and gentlemen of the jury evidence that, following a game of highway bingo on August 15, 2001, my sister did punch me in the left side of the head. This unjustified and unladylike assault occurred at Deadman’s Summit on Route 395, so named because of a corpse found there in the 1860s. (See, I still have a bruise.) I also submit that this corpse, though dead and headless, was far luckier than myself because it never met the aforementioned sister.

Furthermore, I contend that I did win the game of highway bingo, that the bird observed on the roadside was in fact a crow, not a raven, and that this sister, one Jane, was entirely unfounded in her refusal to accept defeat and proclaim me champion of the family van.

Judge: Mr. Kennedy, I can’t see any possible relevance in these remarks.

WK: Your honor, if you will indulge me, the above incident served merely as a jumpstart to the injustice and downright terribleness to come on this family road trip—a trip that had just begun when the punching took place, one that still had one week and 1,750 miles to go. From my experiences I have no doubt the jury can only conclude that all future family road trips must be postponed indefinitely or canceled outright, while awarding me a settlement of $50,000 for emotional and physical trauma.

Judge: Well, it’s highly unorthodox, but I’ll allow it.

WK: Thank you, your honor. I call my first witness, Robert Kennedy.

Robert Kennedy takes the stand.

Isn’t it true, Dad, that not once, not twice, but thrice you crashed the brand-new family van, and that on the third instance the door jammed, setting off the ‘door-ajar’ alarm, so that everyone in the parking lot stared at us?

Robert Kennedy: Yes, but…

WK: No further questions. Let me remind the court that sitting in a hot parking lot inside a beeping white van with a broken door is incredibly uncool. Next, I call Jane Kennedy to the stand.

Jane Kennedy takes the stand.

WK: Tell me, Jane “Worst Sister in the Universe” Kennedy—where were you on the evening of August 15 at 4 p.m.?

Jane Kennedy: I’m not talking to you.

WK: Answer the question, please.

JK: Nope.

WK: Your honor, permission to treat the witness as hostile, annoying and spoiled.

Judge: Granted.

WK: I’ll tell you then. You were running away! That’s what you were doing, further wrecking an already hopelessly bad vacation.

JK: Yeah, ‘cause you were a jerk.

WK: Am not!

JK: Are too! You called me fat.

WK: Well, I…

JK: And you threw up on me.

WK: That was an accident.

JK: And it was a raven!!!

WK: For the zillionth time, it was a CROW and I won! You’re such a… Ahem, pardon me your honor, no further questions. For my penultimate witness, I call Helen “Second Worst Sister in the Galaxy” Kennedy.

Helen, you’re probably too young to fully comprehend the psychological damage caused by our road trip, but please tell the good people of the jury…”

HK: It was fun.

WK: What?

HK: Yeah. Except you were in a bad mood. Maybe because you didn’t eat anything.

WK: Helen, be quiet.

HK: And then we finally found organic avocados and bread that you would eat, but when we sat under that big tree by the Native American museum, it shed fur all over your sandwich, and then you looked at us and said: “I hate this family.”

WK: But what about all the hours in the car? When Dad wouldn’t stop to let you use the restroom? Those Utah people thinking Jane and I were your parents?

HK: That was funny.

WK: What about when you made us get out in Yosemite because you saw snow for the first time? And then, when you wouldn’t leave after two hours, we dragged you away screaming and crying, and people thought we were kidnapping you?

HK: I like snow.

WK: Grrrrr. No further questions. For the final witness, I call Maria Kennedy.

Maria Kennedy takes the stand.

WK: Mom, I’d like to take a minute…

MK: Actually, I wanted to take a minute to show you something.

WK: Mom! I’m supposed to be asking the questions.

MK: What’s this in my hand?

WK: Mom, please, you’re really embarrassing me right now!

MK: What is it?

WK: It’s a photo of me, Jane and Helen laughing … under some really cool rock formations near in Zion National Park.

MK: And what’s this?

WK: It’s me pretending to throw Helen in the Grand Canyon.

MK: And how ‘bout this one?

WK: That’s you and Jane helping me write a letter … to my girlfriend. But Mom, pictures don’t tell the whole story!

MK: What about the time you hiked with your dad to the top of Angel’s Landing? Or your bike ride in Moab? Or when we all went river rafting with the guide who loved the A-Team almost as much as you.

WK: OK MOM! No further questions. Your honor, I’d like to request a brief recess before my closing remarks.


Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I came before you today originally to sue my family and argue for the dissolution of the institution of family road trips, but I can no longer in good conscience continue. The testimony we’ve heard reminded me that yes, much, and possibly most of what goes on during a family road trip is awful and humiliating, but there are also wonderful moments.

It’s a right of passage, especially for teenagers, to go to a place, be really embarrassed by family members, and promise never to return. And it’s a source for stories that the family will find funny at some point in the very, very, very distant future.

I hereby formally submit to end the proceedings, but leave you with this final insight. Go on that road trip with the whole family, but just the once; it’ll be more than enough.



Shanghai's Pudong Skyline at night, including the pink Oriental Pearl Tower

EY Travel Tips: Shanghai

1.  Get off Nanjing Lu.

One of the main drags through downtown Shanghai is Nanjing Lu. It’s a crowded pedestrian-only area packed with international stores and locals hawking their wares (and potentially trying to scam you—see #3). It can be overwhelming, to say the least, but is also a good way to get from the People’s Park to the Bund. Once you’ve had your fill, duck off to a side street and discover the real Shanghai. Yes, it’s grittier and dirtier (as an aside, avoid wearing sandals or open-toed shoes while traveling in China, as your feet well get absolutely filthy) but you can get a feel for what it’s really like to live in Shanghai. Plus, the street food is to die for. As long as it’s cooked nice and hot in front of you, you shouldn’t have any problems eating the pan-fresh fried rice or steamed buns (called baozi. They’re delicious.) you’ll find on every corner. Unless you know Chinese, be prepared to point as it’s most likely no one will speak English. On that note, picking up a phrasebook with a good dictionary as an appendix before your trip will definitely be worth it, especially if you’re a picky or particular eater.

The delicious jien bing

2.  Get up early.

Shanghai is a city that stays up late but gets up early. Morning is another great time to pick up some delicious street food, especially my absolute favorite, the savory large pancakes called jien bing, which the vendor will roll up for you like a burrito. Be sure you don’t miss the early morning markets where you can find locals buying their fruit, vegetables and meat for the day. There will be at least one market in every neighborhood. One quick tip: If you want to pick up some fruit, make sure you can peel it or bring along a peeler to get rid of the skin. Chinese people abide by this rule too, so don’t worry about offending anyone—you’ll horrify them much more if you just bite into that apple, instead of peeling its skin off first.

3. Beware of scam artists.

It often goes like this: You, an excited foreigner in China, stop to snap a few photos along the Bund. Two young, friendly Chinese women come up to you and in pitch-perfect English, ask if they can take a picture with you. Flattered, you say okay. You strike up a conversation. They’re from an inland city, also visiting Shanghai and wow, you’re an American! They love America! And you love China? That’s great! Would you like to go to see a traditional Chinese tea ceremony as we talk about our cultures? Sounds interesting, you say, and away you all go. Then, twenty minutes later, after you’ve tried a few teas, you’re presented with a bill for hundreds upon hundreds of yuan. And that’s when it sets in: You’ve just been scammed. Unfortunately, this happens again and again in any major tourist area of Shanghai and Beijing, and goes virtually unchecked by the government, at least at this time. This means as a visitor, you have to be on your guard, which can make for some unfortunately suspicious interactions with locals. Don’t agree to go anywhere with anyone, no matter how charming they are or how great their English is. If you meet a local you get along with, I’d suggest you pick the place to eat or drink the first time.

Having said all that and as an aside: Shanghai’s violent crime rate is extremely low, especially given the Chinese government’s strict gun restriction laws. Still, it never hurts to use caution, particularly if you’re clearly a foreigner, traveling on your own, as you’ll stick out more in some parts of the city.

4. Be prepared for everything you’ve read on the city to be out-of-date.

Shanghai is constantly changing, and not just in small ways. Restaurants you’ll find reviewed online the year before may be gone. The subway line will suddenly have a half a dozen more stops. Or that museum you were looking forward to from your 2-year old guidebook will have long since closed. It’s part of the feel of the city, but it can get frustrating. One way to combat it is to check on Shanghai’s WikiTravel page before you go out of your way for anything but a major site, as users tend to keep the website up-to-date. Or, when you finally make it to the address of the bike rental shop and it’s now a chocolatier (to use a real-life example), shrug and head on in for a sample; it’s all part of China’s charm.

5. To get to and from the Pudong Airport, take the elevated train.

Called the Maglev, it’ll get you from the airport into the city in fewer than 12 minutes, and is a fun introduction to China’s growing fast train system. It’s a little steep, but worth the money. Yes, the subway’s Line 2 goes all the way out to Pudong these days and rings in at only 2 yuan per ride, but it’s at least a 90-minute journey, which no jet-lagged traveler wants to stomach. Cabs from Pudong into the city can cost over 200 yuan and will take even longer than the Maglev, even if you don’t hit traffic. If you’re concerned about finding your hotel once you’ve made it into the city, grab a cab at the end of line. Just make sure you have the name of your hotel written down in Chinese characters to give to the cab driver (also see #6).

6. Be sure to grab a business card from your hotel.

Any hotel, even smaller ones, should have a business card with their name and address on it both in English and Chinese. Make sure you have a couple of those handy to give to cab drivers. Since virtually no cabbies know English, also have your hotel write down any major locations you want to see that day on a cheat sheet. Otherwise, try out Shanghai’s excellent subway system, but be aware that it shuts down around midnight each night.

7. Check out the Shanghai History Museum.

Located in the base of the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai History Museum is a ton of fun. It’s full of dioramas and mannequins that explain Shanghai’s history from ancient times to now. Plus, the captions provide an interesting, albeit sometimes grammatically clunky, perspective about the Chinese views on western imperialism. Check hours as they may vary, especially on holidays, and lines can get long on weekends. I’d recommend shooting for evenings, as the crowds will thin out after about 6 pm. Plus then you can see the pink Pearl Tower lit up from below as you exit the museum that evening.

Shanghai's Pudong Skyline at night, including the pink Oriental Pearl Tower

8. Set aside at least a few days for brief overnight trips.

Suzhou's Garden of the Master of Nets

Hangzhou, with its gorgeous West Lake, and Suzhou, with its multiple UNESCO World Heritage Site traditional gardens, are not to be missed. Both are accessible by fast train from Shanghai’s main train station. While they’re easy to get to and not too far from Shanghai, I’d still recommend spending at least one night in each city to be able to get yourself oriented. Both cities suffer from a lack of foreign-accessible transportation (the bus systems are tricky at best to figure out if you don’t read Chinese characters, unlike Shanghai’s subway system). Also, during rush hour, cab drivers, who don’t work for tips in China, will avoid foreigners for an easier native speaker fare, so getting around either city can be a challenge. Still, once you’re sitting in one of the ancient pavilions in Suzhou’s Garden of the Master of Nets or enjoying a cup of longjing tea, the local specialty, at a West Lake teahouse in Hangzhou, you’ll be happy you made the trek.





I survived Dog Sledding in Mongolia

~ OR ~

…How to put what’s left of a good face on travel adversity

“So I went to the doctors,” Bijani said.

“Oh good, what did they say?” The phone-line went quiet for a few seconds.

“Well, that I’d probably lose my big toe and parts of both ears.”


“Yeah, they’re pretty black and peely right now. You know marshmallows, after they’ve been on fire? Kinda like that.”

“Oh—that’s bad! Did you get a second opinion?”

“I think it’ll be ok,” Bijani laughed. “They found a doctor who’d lived in Alaska, and he says as long as everything stays warm I get to keep my nose, earlobes—all that good stuff.”

“… Does your mom know?”

“No—but she’ll kill you when she finds out.”


I’m a thoughtful dude: I do dishes; I put the toilet seat down at night; onetime I read the Little Prince and told people I liked it. So, never, in a million years, did I imagine this could happen to me.

Even Bijani’s mom’s parting words didn’t offer a hint. “Mongolia’s not the world’s safest place,” she said. “Don’t let ANYTHING happen to my beautiful daughter.” Frostbite would surely count as a kind of “anything”—and on her second-to-last-day, all because I’d agreed to have “fun” against my better judgment.

Oh, we’d had fun before—my kind of fun—the kind that involves working long hours at a newspaper office and watching Singapore-based sports TV in an apartment. But given her imminent return to California, I couldn’t say no. For our last, most memorable adventure in the land of Genghis Khan, Bijani chose dog sledding.


“At least the dogs were cute,” Bijani said.

“Oh yeah, great.”

“And I liked Noel.”

“That crazy French guy? He’s insane—case of permanent brain freeze.”

“Look on the bright side…”

“Easy for you to say. You just got frostbite. I’m going to be murdered by your mother.”


“Aghhhhh. How did this happen?”


It started with us setting off for sledding on one of those unusually mild, Mongolian January days. It was zero degrees. For the first time in three months I felt overdressed in long underwear, snowpants, gloves, and two jackets. One small victory in the battle of Man vs. cold.

The Silver Storm company van drove us out of Ulaanbaatar city northeast toward Terelj National Park, while I sweated past wrecked cars that served as “don’t drink and drive” reminders, through stiff yellow hills and finally the famous rock that looks like a turtle happily sunning itself.

We arrived and I couldn’t help feeling a little optimistic about the expedition. Three felt tents beside a log shed made up the camp, where lean, eager huskies and the bemused voice of Noel, our energetic guide, greeted us.

“Is zees all you brought?” he prodded our clothes dubiously and left, returning a few moments later with massive, traditionally-pattered wool jackets and pants.

“Now you will not freeze,” he said.










It was colder by the banks of Terelj River than in the city, but I felt impenetrable in my woolen armor. Noel wore a jacket, ski-pants and a fleecy headband. I figured we were being treated with big, woolen, kiddie mittens.

We met Black and White, the skinny lead dogs, and learned the essentials—hold on, lean left to turn left, right to turn right. And that was it—we mounted our wooden sleds and plunged down a powdered ice ramp onto the hard river.











The stony riverside and lines of crisp alpines whipped by at seven miles per hour. Black looked over his shoulder as if to say: “Isn’t this fun?” It was fun, for five minutes.

Then I felt something else. Pain.

Freezing pain.


“Remember how the wind cut through seams in your clothes and your boots?” Bijani asked?

“Oh yeah, but how’d it get through both pairs of socks?”

“Weird, huh?”

“You should’ve said something; we’d have gone back.”

“I just couldn’t make myself do it, but I wanted to turn around so badly,” she said.

“I wanted to cry, but my tear ducts froze.”


At some point, we stopped for a third time. Bijani started with a neat fur hat and scarf wrapped around her face. Now frost caked her eyebrows and yellowing scarf; the hat was long gone, blown off and replaced by my lopsided wool cap. She looked like the disconsolate runner up of Miss Abominable Snowwoman 2008.

I should have given her my balaclava, but it was too cold to really be considerate.

“Should we keep going?” I asked.

I wanted her to say no. She opened her mouth and nothing came of it, just a headshake. (Later she’d tell me her brain had lobbied for a nod, but some frozen synapses misfired).

“Only 15 kilometers to go!” Noel said.

I knew we would die. Black glanced over his shoulder again, and I saw resignation on his face. “Yes, you are going to die,” his look said. “And if no one’s looking, I’ll probably eat you. No hard feelings, though.”

The wind howled. We crossed more frozen water. Sometimes it made cracking noises and we could see the water running under our feet. Sometimes rocks or debris formed a line across the icy track and we had to get off and run behind the sleds. I cursed nature. Bijani fell. She fell again.

She looked at me and I’ve never seen a face I know registering that much pain.

At last we reached the halfway point, a river bend that provided some shelter from the wind. Noel lit a fire and heated mutton dumplings and tea. I thought it was the best meal I’d ever eaten.

“At least we won’t die hungry,” Bijani said.

Miraculously, the wind at our back made the homeward journey easy. Bijani got a lift in Noel’s sled. I laughed the whole way to camp, partly from relief, partly from borderline hysteria that made me careless with the reins a few times. Black peeked at me, looking concerned and a little disappointed. He licked his lips.

Once inside a safe felt tent with a dung fire going, we took off our huge coats and pants and took stock of our situation. Bijani removed her hat.

“Uh oh,” I said.

“My ears feel funny,” she said.

They were humongous. The backs had bubbled into deep purple blisters.

“Is this going to be ok?” I asked Noel.

“Oh that,’ he laughed. “That iz just from the cold. The elephant ears. You feel just like an elephant because ze are so…”

“Floppy?” Bijani offered

“Floppy!” He made wiggly elephant ear motions with his hands.

“Will she be ok?”

“But it iz nuffing. It’s happened to me at least five times.”

Noel’s headband remained conspicuously over his ears for our entire visit. We drove back in the dusk. Against the frozen brown backdrop that signature rock looked like a turtle trying to squeeze out of its shell and run, run for the hills, far away from its angry, future mother-in-law.

Things looked even worse when we got home and Bijani took her shoes off. The big toe on her right foot was black. I spent the evening breathing on her feet trying to keep them warm.

“This is just the romantic last evening I wanted,” Bijani said.

We got advice ranging from ‘put the affected areas in snow’ to ‘pray,’ to ‘everything will be fine.’ The next day, Bijani left for California with burn traces clearly showing on her face. She called me 20 hours later.


“So you’ll really be ok,” I asked.

“I think so.”

“I am so sorry. What a perfect end to a perfect stay, huh?”

“You know, I actually had a lot of fun.”


“Ha ha ha. Of course, didn’t you?”

“Except that it was the most awful, difficult, painful experience of my life, yeah, I guess I did.”

“Good. Plus we have a great story and I’ll have cool scars to prove it.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“It won’t be so bad. They won’t last more than a few months. Speaking of which, when are you coming home?”

“Dunno, after your mom has cooled down for a year or two… “ There was another silence on the line. “So, where to next? Somewhere really nice like Iceland, Antarctica, the frozen void of space …?

“Don’t get any ideas, buddy. I’m taking you somewhere warm.”


For more on Will’s escapades in Mongolia, check out these additional EY articles:

Second Chances: UB Mongolia

EY Travel Tips: MONGOLIA

and coming soon:  TAJ MONGOLIA

Some say adversity is the fuel on which true love feeds…it certainly seems true for Will & Bijani who continue to surprise, delight & inspire us at every turn!  Read more about their engaging love story here.


Everyday Krakow 052

EY Travel Tips: Krakow

With Copernicus

1. Walk around the Planty.

The Planty  is the park that surrounds Krakow’s Old Town. It’s a great way to get a feel for the city. You can walk around part of it and then go through St. Florian’s Gate at Ullica Florinska up into the main market square, Rynek Glowny. Also be sure to climb up in the Barbikan, one of the last remaining bits of the medieval wall. Plus, snap a picture with the statue of Copernicus at the nearby Jagellonian University. If you’re looking for a quick break from your stroll, there’s a great English language bookstore only two blocks away called Massolit. Grab a cup of their great coffee and pick up one of their ornate bookmarks as a free souvenir.

2. Try beer with juice—trust me.

In Polish, it’s “piwo z sokiem.” Memorize those three words. Be sure to get a Zywiec with cherry, or better yet, ginger. They’ll serve it to you with a straw. Stir up the juice at the bottom and you’re good to go. It might not feel like drinking a beer to purists, but it’s definitely worth a try.

3.  Don’t be afraid to be assertive.

From my experience, Poles are a no-nonsense bunch who can get frustrated with out-of-towners, especially given Krakow’s rising popularity as a tourist destination. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to assert yourself in ticket lines, at restaurant counters, and anywhere else….they’ll respect you for it and you’ll get more done. As with any foreign country, it’s useful to have your destination written down in Polish (ask for help at your hotel) so you can hand that to the person at the train station. Also, don’t forget practice saying “thank you” in Polish: It’s dzienkuje, or phonetically: jen-koo-yeh.

4. Take a ride on the Pope Train!  

Poland was home to Pope John Paul II, who is very revered as a national hero, especially given his advocacy for the Poles’ rights during the Cold War. If you fancy traveling the footsteps of the Polish pope, consider taking a ride on the bright gold papal train, which leaves from Krakow’s main train station daily. There are multiple stops on the train, including to Pope John Paul’s birthplace, the small city Wadowice. While there, try out a so-called Pope Cake, the pope’s favorite delicacy as a boy. They’re delicious, but enormous, so don’t be afraid to split one.

5. Set aside some time for day trips.

In the surrounding area near Krakow, there are a number of fascinating spots to see, including Auschwitz-Berkinau, the largest concentration camp during the Holocaust, and, for something entirely different, the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Auschwitz truly cannot be missed, even if it’s obviously a very sobering experience. The salt mine couldn’t be more opposite, and is pretty campy, but the underground chapel with its ornate salt chandeliers is a spectacular site, and the tour gives interesting insight into one of the region’s major industries. Plus, the tour guides (English speakers are readily available) wear hard hats. You can’t really ask for more than that.

6. Drink apple pie.

I’m aware this is my second alcohol tip, but you don’t want to miss out on this one. Go to any bar in the city and order a Tatanka—yes, like the word for “buffalo.” It’s made with Zubrowka vodka, a Polish specialty, and apple juice (check out their website, they even show you how to make this drink!). The combination tastes exactly like a cinnamony slice of apple pie. If you’re lucky, they’ll even put an apple slice in your drink. Classy, no?  Note: This drink is called different things in different parts of Poland, so if you’re in Warsaw, it might be called a szarlotka (apple cake). Ask the bartender.

7. Consider visiting over a major holiday.

88% of Poland’s population is Catholic. Because of this, each major Catholic holiday, the city puts on a festival in its main square, complete with local merchants hawking handmade wares and delicious food, and plenty of entertainment.  The drawback with this is that, of course, fewer businesses will be open (definitely check operating hours before you go to any major attractions), and major religious sites, especially nearby Czestochowa, a famous Catholic pilgrimage site, will be crowded. Still, if you want an authentic Polish experience, consider booking your trip in the spring, especially near Easter. Make sure to check out a holiday mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral, the spectacular church in the main market square.

8.  Eat.   All.   The.   Time.

Especially worth trying are the street vendors’ pretzels for a great breakfast snack, and the zapikeinki, a long piece of bread covered in pickles and various sauces. In the main market square, look for the guy dressed as a giant beer mug. He’ll give you a coupon for a free beer at a restaurant right near the Wawel Castle. It’s a bit more touristy than some places, but the English menu serves as a great introduction to some of the best Polish foods: perogi—delicious cheese-, meat- or even fruit-filled dumplings (try the Ruskie-style, filled with cheese and potato)—and keilbasa, a type of sausage. Warning: If you want to take a picture with our friend the beer mug, beware that you’ll have to pay a few zloty to do so.


For more stories from Megan’s travel in Krakow, check out:

Running Five Polish Miles 


Martin Examines Hops

Foraging For Hops

Sadly, I’m not a big beer drinker.  And I say sadly, because I seem to be surrounded by people who really know and love their beer.  My sister’s fiancé, Joel, is a brewer at the one and only Great Lakes Brewing Company, and my good friend, co-filmmaker, and current roommate, Alex, is experienced in the art of home brewing- he even took an online course.  So between them it is as if I’ve been adopted into beer culture.

For the most part this has worked out well enough. They’ve been able to get past my comments such as “I think my favorite beer is Coors Ice- Coors Light poured over a big glass of ice,” and I’ve been able to ignore their Indiana Jones like reactions in beer shops to a rare “one of a kind” find.  But this weekend a connection was made – I have now become a beer “forager.”

It all started a few years ago- Alex had discovered wild hops growing near Colorado Springs.  He had seen it for a few years and after many smell tests found when it would be most ripe for harvest.  It just happened to coincide with this past Saturday, so Alex, Maddy (Alex’s girlfriend), Dan (another beer advocate) and I hopped into the car.

We arrived at a familiar running spot, and started hiking up the road keeping our eyes peeled for what I perceived to be these “illusive” hops.  On the way, I found my eyes (and mind) wandering away from the task at hand, to the crags and rock walls along the path, wondering which I could climb.  I pointed an especially nasty looking one out to Dan, (an experienced climber) wondering if I’d be able to attempt the route while being securely roped up.  Reading my mind he declared: “That’s about the limit of what I’d do without a rope!”  Instantly I was in disbelief and awe for it was 100 feet of near vertical and overhanging rock. We continued on, me pondering Dan’s skill level and the rest of the group searching for the still undiscovered hops.

The trip was not without treasures. We did stumble upon a rare squirrel that looked like a cross between a bunny and the devil.  We photographed the demon and moved on.

Throughout the search, I was completely ignorant to what hops looked like and imagined us gathering long stalks of brown wispy wheat-like plants.   Our prospects weren’t looking too good until finally Alex spotted the “elusive” hop.

I could not have been more surprised.  Rather than brown, tall and thin, it grows as a vine and has little buds ranging from ½ to 1 inch long.  We smelled them and were mildly impressed but moved on to see if there were more.

BOOM- we found the bumper crop.  A small pine tree was covered in them.

This bunch smelled different and we all went back and forth, on which we liked more.  In the end we gathered half a plastic bag full of both varieties and headed to the home brew store.



And despite the excitement of our find, I was still pondering Dan’s declaration about the rock climb, so before we reached the car I convinced Dan to try and “free solo” (climb unroped) his peak, except that I was horrified when he actually took up my challenge and started up.  I thought my stupid dare was about to lead to the witness of my friend falling onto the sharp rocks below.  Luckily, fear or reality got the better of him and he decided ascending in sandals sans rope was not the best plan.

The adventure continued as we drove way out east of the mountains to the plains.  The homebrew store was a combination of a warehouse and bar.  Across the street was a strip club.  We entered the store and Alex and Dan rummaged around, selecting their special ingredients (malted barley extract, yeast) and tools (tubing, buckets). Alex and Dan already had much of the gear but after two batches of last year’s brew had resulted in explosions, Alex wanted new tubing to prevent another round of infection, which he speculated might have been caused by wild yeast entering the beer.

The owner rung us up and delighted in informing us that tax was only 4.7% – we were out of the city now where tax was 9.8%!

“Gotta love being right on the border” he joked.  “But the winter was a drag, snow plow didn’t even plow the street.”

“But you gotta love that tax,” I told him, “hell, I bet you’ll put the plow on your truck and make your own path.”

He gave a hearty laugh, it appeared I hit the nail on the head.  (I wondered if he had a deal with the strip club guy).

Fast-forward to the next day and our cottage was transformed into what could easily be mistaken for a meth lab.  Tubes, and buckets everywhere with a big vat of wort (beer before it has fermented) on the stove.


The smell was… interesting, but it grew on me and over all the hops smelled great.

Alex and Maddy did most of the actual brewing, while I hung around on the sidelines, watching in wonder.  Now, after all the excitement and activity, for once I can honestly say that I’ve never been so excited to crack open a beer.  I’ll let you know how it goes in 4 weeks!



Eiffel Tower

EY Travel Tips: Paris

Sunny Spot Paris

The last time I visited Paris, I was a starry-eyed sixteen-year-old on a school trip. I stayed in a cut-rate hotel, saw the sights everyone has seen, ate the culinary standards, spoke no French and dressed myself like a tourist. Despite these drawbacks, the city left an immeasurable impression upon me. I knew that I would return, and when I did, things would be different. Six years later, I returned for a week-long vacation after my summer French studies had concluded. The experiences I had on both trips were so radically different that I feel compelled to say that it is much better to explore Paris than to tour it. The following list of tips has been compiled based on the things I did during my second trip that made the experience truly great.

1. Be creative about places to stay.

There is more than one way to spend a night in Paris. Many people believe that the cost of staying in Paris is ridiculously and unrealistically high. True, it can be, but there are plenty of affordable options. The best bet for anyone looking to stay for a week is to rent an apartment in the city. Not only will doing this save you tons of money, you will have the experience of living la vie Parisienne.

For my week in Paris, I rented a cozy flat in the 10th for only €250. It was less than a block away from the Metro and a ten minute walk from Montmartre. My land lady was very pleasant and completely willing to provide any assistance I may have required. Check out or do a simple Google search to find affordable places, and don’t forget to research the neighborhood to make sure it’s safe.



2. Think outside the box when it comes to activities and sight-seeing.

There is a lot more to see in Paris than the Eiffel Tower. There are about 153 museums in the city that cover an extremely wide variety of subjects. My personal recommendation for a museum is the collection at the Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe). It is full of beautiful artifacts, calligraphy and art from various countries in the Middle East. One of the more “unusual” things I did was attend one of Jim Haynes’ dinner parties. He has been holding “The Sunday Dinners” for thirty years. All you have to do to get on the list is call or email him in advance. His contact information can be found here. The dinners are usually full of people of every age, nationality and background and the chances of meeting at least one interesting person are very high. You are asked to bring a donation (~20€) to keep the dinners going for future partygoers.


Ne me quitte pas

The most important thing I can stress about Paris is that it is a city designed for pedestrians. I found more treasures while wandering aimlessly than I did looking at a map. I also recommend consulting some sort of guide book or website for more interesting ideas and hints. This city has something for everyone and a guide provides you with a great place to start.

3. Be open-minded about dining.

While I will continue to recommend everyone experience a proper French dinner in Paris for the rest of my life, I will also tell you that there’s a wide variety of excellent food to be found in Paris. Paris is not only the center of French culture; it is also home to a hodgepodge of people from all over the world. Ethnic food in Paris is fantastic and should not be overlooked. Also, do not fuss over dining selections in guide books. You will have just as much, if not better, luck if you randomly select a place every day.


4. Use French wherever you can.

I found my experience with Parisians improved tenfold by using as much French as I could, wherever and whenever I could. It is much easier to fall back into English in Paris than people realize, as many Parisians speak multiple languages. However, they are always more than happy to help a newcomer learn. Be warned though, the French are very, very OCD about correcting people. They also love to remind non-French people that they are foreign. I know it can seem rude at first, but they do it to everyone and you’ll get used to it eventually. I learned to appreciate being corrected, as it sped up my learning process. Even if you don’t speak French, it is much better to approach someone with a question in French than in English. As I said, they can usually tell where you’re from, and even if they don’t speak English, they will be more likely to find somebody to help you if you use French first.

5. Explore your inner fashionista.

Paris is an extremely fashionable city and it is full of fantastic shopping. The 1st and 2nd arrodissments are full of fun and interesting boutiques. Les Halles, Paris’ largest shopping center, also has a lot of very fashionable shops that aren’t going to break anybody’s pocketbook. And, of course, I cannot leave out the Champs-Élysées, a street so fashionable it is internationally known. My favourite part about this street is window shopping for the latest looks at the designer stores and going across the street to buy those looks for thousands of Euro cheaper. Serious shoppers should plan their Paris visits for January or July, as those are the months when the French government regulates sales for the entire country.



EY Travel Tips: Berlin

Sunny Spot Berlin

One week in Germany’s capital is hardly enough time to scratch the surface of all the city’s treasures. Berlin’s rich history offers a palate of old and new; 90 percent bombed during World War II, the cityscape is a jumble of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century reconstructions, Weimar-era beauties, Soviet structures, and über-modern post-1989 skyscrapers. It is a diverse city with many cultural pockets and historical tidbits to explore – there is something for everyone in Berlin.

1. Where to stay and how to get around

Berlin is an extremely flat city – their marathon has the fastest course in the world – and my favorite way to explore a new place is on foot, so lace up your walking shoes and take to the streets! Alternately, you can rent bikes from many corner souvenir shops for about 10 Euros/day and tour the streets like the locals. In order to get the most out of your environmentally-friendly transport, stay in Mitte, the touristy center where many of Berlin’s main attractions lie. If you have the cash, renting an apartment is much cheaper – not to mention more comfortable – than staying in a hotel. There are also plenty of hostels for the budget traveler. If you opt to stay outside of the tourist districts or ever get tired of walking, Berlin has excellent above- and below-ground public transportation (the S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems).

2. What to Eat

If you like ethnic food, you will love Berlin. My family and I especially enjoyed Turkish food at Hasir – a few locations throughout the city – and Moroccan food at Kasbah – not far from the Hackaescher Markt, though far enough to avoid tourist crowds. For those of you who are itching to eat German cuisine – hearty, meat-and-potato-based – just stop at one of many Biergartens (outdoor cafes) lining the streets and enjoy a cheap, filling meal. Berlin also does breakfast well: countless cafes offer dense, moist fruit tarts to accompany your morning latte. For a delicious breakfast off the beaten path, try Markettas Greisslerei, unassumingly tucked in a Bohemian corner of Mitte not far from Hackaescher Markt. Generous meat-cheese-bread platters and tasty plum jam-filled rolls fueled us for a five hour jaunt with…

3. Fat Tire Bike Tours

This is a must do for newcomers to Berlin. Heck, I’d do it again on a second trip. The general city tour consists of about five hours of easy riding on cushy bikes with plenty of informational stops. The guides – all native English-speakers – come from all over the world and must have been trained to be hilarious. We had a great time with Francis from New Zealand, a German history expert. The general city tour covers Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, Gendarmenmarkt, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (a must-see), the Reichstag, Unter den Linden, and more. The tours are reasonable priced – 22 Euros – and include a stop at a Biergarten in the Tiergarten – Berlin’s 440-acre public park, once the Prussians’ royal hunting ground – for lunch on your own dime. (Note: Fat Tire also has branches in Barcelona, Paris, and London. I will definitely look them up when my adventures take me to these places.)

4. Museums

Berlin has about 160 museums. How to choose? Get the best bang for your buck on Museumsinsel (“Museum Island”), a small island in between branches of the Spree River that holds five museums and the Berliner Dom, a gorgeous Protestant cathedral. You can pay about 12 Euros for admission to all five museums – Bode, Pergamon (a must-see), Altes, Neues, Alte Nationalgalerie – with the only catch being that this ticket is only valid for one day. Better start early! (Bonus: excellent audio guides are included in the admission prices at all of Berlin’s state museums.) If you clamor for more after Museumsinsel, two other museums are worth a visit. The Sammlung Berggruen, in Charlottenburg – across the street from the Prussian palace – has an intimate and impressive collection of Picasso, Matisse, Klee, and Giacometti. For more modern art, visit the Neue Nationalgalerie near shiny Potsdamer Platz.

There is so much more in Berlin than my meager tips offer, but I hope you can use these as a jumping-off point for your personalized adventures in the city. Gute Reise!



EY Travel Tips: Scotland

Sunny Spot Scotland

Consider a trip to Scotland: hikes along steely-blue lochs, green glens full of wee-wooly sheep, everyone talking like Sean Connery.  For these features and so many others, the rugged land of the bagpipe and thistle grabbed a place among my three all-time favorite countries after one visit. Scotland boasts the United Kingdom’s highest mountain, the island’s most epic weather and its best-known monster, first reported by a visiting Irish saint in the Loch Ness area during the sixth century.

Cynics might put Scottish sea monsters on the same plane of possibility as sober, reliable Irish saints, but it’s still fun to search the lake. Plus you can always see the many fascinating, albeit less legendary animals, which settled in Scotland, from shaggy highland cattle and Shetland ponies to the reintroduced white-tailed Sea Eagles to the red deer and endangered wild cat.

A fantastically underrated place to eat, Scotland harbors a wealth of fish from the North Sea alongside local meats and dairy, while the confluence of Gaelic, British and Viking culture give the nation a set of vibrant and unique traditions—fashion-wise and otherwise. The many castles Scots built over hundreds of years, existing today as ruins and restorations around the country, offer windows into the rich history and traditions of the country and its numerous clans.

With the considering completed, here are four tips for a first-time visitor:

1.      Feast not Fear-try the local cuisine.

Scottish food has a fearsomely poor reputation, and I’ll be the first to tell you knowing what’s in haggis (sheep heart, lungs, liver, oats) made me question the sensibility of an entire nation. But, like rump steak (which is fine so long as you don’t visualize the source), haggis turns dubious ingredients into a richly appetizing dish. Pair it with tatties (that’s mashed potatoes) and mushy peas, and you’ve got a hearty spread. Or try some of the best fish (and chips) you can find, wash it down with a Scotch whisky, and contemplate the scent of peat and the mercurial Scotch skies from a pub. If you really can’t stomach local food or need a break, there’s plenty of other European and Asian options. But you know the saying: when in Scotland, try some sheep organs; your taste buds might surprise*.

2.     Kilt Etiquette                                          

Calling a Scotsman’s kilt a skirt is a “deadly” insult. I read that in a letter to the New York Times’ editors nine years ago, and as they saw it fit to print I saw it fit to avoid (at least out loud) in Scotland and everywhere else. None of the good-humored Scots I met seemed inclined toward violence for kilt besmirching or any other infraction, and aside from a few older gentlemen the garments weren’t widely worn; however, kilt etiquette is still a hot topic. Last year the Scottish Tartan Authority controversially recommended wearing underwear beneath kilts for the sake of hygiene. Kilt enthusiasts must now choose between “common decency” and the ironclad Highland tradition of going commando under their garments. Both camps make passionate arguments, but if you enter the fray by buying or renting a kilt, it’s wise to assess the strength of the wind before making a final decision.

3.     Layers People

In Scotland, “sunny” easily substitutes as a synonym for light rain. It couldn’t literally be called a sunny spot and it’s definitely not the place to treat a vitamin D deficiency, but it doesn’t resemble perpetually rainy Seattle so much as say Chicago, where (the joke goes) people who don’t like the weather need only wait a few minutes. Yes, the Scottish climate can be temperamental, and its best to prepare accordingly. Heck, even the local cows where coats, so your best solution is to layer up and then remove or add clothing to adjust to the prevailing conditions. For comfort, an absolute essential is a shell that keeps you dry but won’t overheat (the country stays pretty temperate if you’re not on the mountaintops), while gloves in the winter and fall make outdoor adventures much more agreeable. They may not look cool, but those cargo pants that transition to shorts prove very handy.

4.     Winding down for winter

Fancy a magical trek to the seaside on the Harry Potter Train (also known as the Jacobite) or some light washing with Lady MacBeth at Cawdor Castle? Make sure to check opening times and dates, because as Scotland’s weather gets seriously rough many of the country’s sites shut down operations. Typically closures last from late summer/fall to spring, and while there’s tremendous natural beauty later in the year, it appeals largely to rugged outdoor types, and even some of them prefer to steer clear until the situation brightens up. If your profile trends away from mountaineer, and for example, you’re just dying to see the interior of Eilean Donan Castle, just like in the romantic comedy Made of Honor, then a spring or summer trip will suit you better.


For tips on enjoying the Highlands on a  Low Budget, check out tales from Will’s Scotland travel journal…

St. Michaels Cathedral Kyiv

EY Travel Tips: Ukraine

In some ways living in Ukraine is not dissimilar from living in western Europe or even the United States: there are lots of cars, supermarkets, museums and other cultural attractions. But upon closer scrutiny Ukraine is still very much a developing country: public transport is slow, communities work and eat based on the seasonal calendar, most people hand-wash their clothes. That said, Ukraine has many interesting things to offer for the traveler. Below are a few recommendations based on my experiences over the past the ten months.

1. How to Travel: Buses and trains are numerous and are the cheapest ways to travel around the country. Be warned, travel is not fast. If you are torn between bus and train, buses tend to be slightly (30-60 minutes) quicker but slightly more expensive. Trains, though slower, are cheaper and more comfortable: in coupe (second class) and platzcart (third class) you are provided with bedding and can lie down and sleep (most long-distance trains are overnight).

2. Kyiv: Ukraine’s capital holds a few treasures worth seeing. Spend a day or two exploring the cathedrals – especially St. Sophia’s and St. Michael’s – and strolling down cobblestoned Andriyivs’ka Street, pausing to check out souvenir vendors. Walk down Khreshchatik, Kyiv’s main drag, lined with expensive stores and restaurants. Plan your walk for the weekend, when Khreshchatik is closed to cars between the Lenin statue and Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). St. Michael’s Cathedral, Kyiv 2b. Eating in Kyiv is expensive. The cheapest non-supermarket food I have found in the city is a standard stop for traveling Peace Corps Volunteers who want a fast, cheap, filling meal on a budget. It’s a falafel restaurant on Starvoksal’na street, not far from the train station. Delicious falafel wraps start at 20 UAH (about $2.50). And they have hummus!

3. Because restaurants in Ukraine are expensive in most towns and cities, it is wise to shop at bazaars for the freshest and cheapest natural products. Bazaars are everywhere and have wide selections of just about any food item you could want. To save some money, stock up at the bazaar and have a picnic. Another cheaper option is finding a cafeteria (yidalnia) where you can sample traditional Ukrainian food at a lower price than a restaurant.

4. That said, it is fun to splurge once in a while at a restaurant. In L’viv I ate the best – and most expensive – restaurant meal I have had in Ukraine at a Jewish-themed restaurant, Pid Zolotoju Rozoju (“At the Golden Rose”). Apparently it is one of quite a few themed restaurants around the city. The premise at this one is that, after the meal, you haggle for the bill with your waiter; I think it attempts to (semi-insensitively) recreate some sort of “Jewish” custom. No prices are listed on the menu, so it is up to your negotiation skills to fix the price. My friends and I agreed on a maximum we could pay and our waiter opened negotiations at a ridiculously high price. We managed to get him to lower it by alternating bids with reasons like, “We’re poor volunteers here, teaching English! We love Ukraine!” It was unclear whether the waiter had previously set the bill total; it seemed so because eventually we got him down to a price that he would not go below. The haggling episode was jocular, and though the meal was expensive we were satisfied. (Side note: I am sure this system traps more than a few faint-hearted customers who give up negotiating at some point.) The service was excellent, and the food was delicious; I recommend the “Jewish spreads” sampler and the spiced wine.

5. While you are in L’viv, take time to wander around the central square’s cobblestoned streets and admire the architecture. There are two options for a great view of the city: pay 5 UAH to climb up the clock tower (ratusha) or – for free – take up to an hour to climb the hill and stairs of Vysokyy Zamok (“high castle”) to one of the highest points of the city. It is hard to choose which option I would recommend more; I got better pictures from the clock tower because it is right in the center, but Vysokyy Zamok gives you a better panorama of the entire city. If you have time, do both, but I would give Vysokyy Zamok a slight edge because it is free and higher up than the clock tower. Clock tower in the center of L’viv



6. From L’viv, since you are in the west, I recommend heading down to Chernivtsi, capital of the Chernivets’ka Oblast and once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (as was much of the rest of western Ukraine). Like L’viv, Chernivtsi has beautiful architecture and even an abandoned Gothic-style German cathedral. In Chernivtsi you must walk through Shevchenko Park and down Kobalans’ka Street, the city’s pedestrian street in the center. On Kobalans’ka, spend an hour or two in the regional historical museum to gaze at old maps, tools, art, and traditional Ukrainian costumes. The docents are helpful and knowledgeable. If you get hungry for lunch, stop at Café Efes, just off Soborna Ploshcha (Cathedral Square). There is traditional and non-traditional cuisine, the pizza has real parmesan cheese, and the prices are reasonable for travelers on a budget.

7. Climb Mount Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest mountain at 2,061 meters. It is in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine. It’s an easy day-hike and the views are gorgeous. My only advice: don’t do it in March! It is still quite cold, the lower trails through the woods were icy, and there was still slippery snow above the tree line. We were not even allowed to advance to the true summit because of the wind and ice at the top. I did the hike with some friends – and about 95 other Peace Corps Volunteers, along with 4-500 Ukrainians – as part of a big event organized by a Volunteer and her NGO. The Ukrainians arrived decked out in snow suits and heavy hiking boots, and some even had ski poles. Most of us Volunteers had not been quite as well-informed of the weather; my thin cotton leggings did not cut it at the top. This would be a fantastic hike in the summer, and I hope to do it next year in the warm months.


Typical Countryside Residence

EY Travel Tips: MONGOLIA

Why visit Mongolia?

Well there’re just about a million reasons. For starters the world’s second largest landlocked country (Nearby Kazakhstan ranks first) houses geographic diversity that rivals pretty much anywhere. There’s the snow capped mountains and Kazakh eagle hunters to the west; the vast Gobi Desert and great Central Asian Steppe in the south; reindeer herders in the Siberian forests of the north and the grasslands populated by native gazelle or Oryx to the east. Writing this, I’m wondering why I’m not there right now.

A successful population of the critically endangered Wild Asian or Przewalski’s Horse resides in Mongolia, as does 2-million year old Lake Khovsgul, which itself holds half-a-percent of the world’s potable water. Famed naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews—sometimes credited as the proto-Indiana Jones—discovered dino eggs in the Gobi and Genghis Khan launched an empire that linked Beijing to Baghdad to Babenberg, Austria. With the end of Soviet communism and institution of a capitalist democracy, Mongolia experienced incredible socio-economic change over two decades, but step a mile outside the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and enter a world where the felt tents and herders carry traditions held by the Mongols for millennia.

Now that you’re convinced, here are five tips for your trip.

1.       Dress Warm. Nuh-uh. Warmer

Mark Twain famously said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. Frankly, Mark Twain is a liar and moreover he’s never even been to Mongolia. The average temperature in Ulaanbaatar is freezing, meaning when you ask what’s the temperature, at any time of year, it’s quite probably freezing. Ulaanbaatar’s the coldest capital in the world. That means Reykjavík, that city in a land which, from my understanding, is literally made of ice, is warmer. When visiting Mongolia in winter, prepare like you would for a polar expedition: long underwear, solid winter jacket, winter gloves and liners and probably some sort of heat trapping mask. Summer days are warm, but like San Francisco, it can get nippy, especially at night, so bring clothes for hot and cold.

2.       Sunscreen

In addition to being one of the planet’s colder nations, Mongolia paradoxically ranks as one of the sunniest spots in the world. It’s generally accepted that the country gets over 250 cloudless days per year without a cloud in the sky, more sun than Yuma, Arizona. So for those afternoons out on the wide-open steppe when it’s just you, the Great Blue Sky, and the really hot, bright sun, UV protection makes the awe-inspiringness of nature less blistery and painful. You can buy some in UB, but selection may be limited, so consider bringing some from home.

3.       Make room for mutton.

There’s a good chance you will be offered a lot of mutton in Mongolia. “What’s on the menu?” you ask. Well, there’s mutton. Mutton with flour. Mutton with onions. Mutton with a side of mutton. There can be more—Ulaanbaatar has everything from Korean to vegetarian restaurants to fried chicken joints—but outside of the city your options are generally limited, so you may want to accustom the palate to boiled sheep meat. Unusual dairy products like dry curdled sheep milk to fermented horse milk is everywhere, so bring lactase tablets if you have difficulty digesting milk and want to sample the traditional food. Fun fact: Mongolian BBQ is as Mongolian as McDonalds is Scottish. The closest thing to barbecue in Mongolia is Boodog: goat or marmot cooked by placing hot rocks in its stomach. Less fun fact: marmot meat can carry bubonic plague. I recommend the goat.

4.       Be kind to the Khan.

Mongolians have a deserved reputation for hospitality and generosity and while pick pocketing does occur in the capital, it’s generally a pretty safe place. Mongolia is a peaceful democracy that’s managed to maintain good relations with both North Korea and the United States, but the heart of the nation is still ruled with an iron fist by Genghis Khan. In the wrong company, a bad word about national hero Genghis Khan is considered a fighting word. Yes, by some estimates he killed 10 percent of the world’s population in his day, but he was also brilliantly innovative and remarkably tolerant of the freedom of his subjects given the time period. Mongolians view him as a Goergebraham Roosevelt, the embodiment of everything great about the nation, a one-man Mount Rushmore. After being barred from revering their national hero under Soviet rule, the adoration has returned in force. His name appears on everything, from the airport to hair salons, so the temptation to bring him up is everywhere. If you’re at a bar, keep it positive.

5.       A little Mongolian goes a long way.

Sain Bainuu (hello) and Bayarlaa (thank you) are good to know. Mongolians are very responsive, and sometimes amused, when foreigners speak to them in Mongolian. When you’ve been in town for a bit Zuun, Chigiree, Baruun Tiish, the words for left, straight and right turn respectively, can be very handy for getting around. Street names aren’t commonly used in the country, so directions are often given in a series of turns. For transportation, licensed taxis are rare (although word is this may be improving)  and while nearly every car in the capital is willing to serve as an unofficial cab, they may not know where you’re asking them to go.  Provided you know where you’re going, you can help them.


A world traveler hailing originally from the hills of California, William Kennedy currently resides in London, England.  His time spent living in Mongolia left many lasting impressions. 

“Did you know?

That the number of livestock in Mongolia is 20 times more than the country population? Number of livestock is 42 million and the population number is 2.9 million people.

That Ulaanbaatar is a True Nomad? The city changed its locations 29 times before settling in its present day location.”

For more tidbits visit the Official Tourism Website of Mongolia