During my first few months in China, I traveled with Katie to northern Inner Mongolia, where we learned a lot about Genghis Khan and his legacy. I couldn't get enough, so a year later, when I heard about a giant memorial to Genghis Khan in the middle of nowhere, I decided that I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to see it.
It was unlikely that I would visit this part of Inner Mongolia again, so I wanted to see a few more places before heading home. The problem was buying train tickets. I had discovered on this trip that you can't just show up and expect to get a ticket for a long distance train. If you don't want to stand for thirty hours straight, you need to book your tickets online, days or weeks in advance.
Now I would have to improvise my way to my next destination, without any idea of how to get there, or what I might do once I arrived. Ah yes, one of the greatest pleasures of travel...
According to legend, early in the thirteenth century a nomadic tribal leader went on a hunting expedition to a mountain at the eastern edge of the Eurasian Steppe. As he stood on the summit, the spectacular view of the surrounding grasslands and forests inspired him. The man suddenly realized his desire to unify all of the tribes in the region. He gazed at the golden sunrise and commanded to his tribesmen, “Moerdaoga!” – “Ride into the battle on your horses!” The man's name was Genghis Khan, and this land would soon fall under his rule.