Vast, raw, magnificent, proud, elemental -- Mongolia surprises, delights and challenges those who are willing to explore its remote treasures.  The spirit of Chinggis Khan is pervasive, and the empire he spawned 800 years ago remains a source of pride and national identity to all.  Nearly half the 3 million Mongolians retain the nomadic lifestyle, albeit with the addition of satellite dishes and cell phones. Urbanites may have adopted western dress and lifestyles, but whenever possible, they retreat to the steppes and revel in traditional Mongolian activities under the eternal blue skies.

Everywhere we went, we were met with uncompromising hospitality.  No matter how bumpy the drive, or how diverse the weather or how simple the accommodations, the people and landscapes filled each day with superlatives.

Modern Mongolia's involvement in the larger world may not be evident, but its contributions from long ago are with all of us today.  I heartily recommend Jack Weatherford's "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" to all, even if you never anticipate making it to Mongolia!