Halcyon Days: A Week in Tsetserleg


Tsetserleg, Mongolia. 

Sometimes, a place just feels right. 

Tsetserleg, Mongolia. 

Tsetserleg, Mongolia. 


Sometimes, a place just feels right. 

I was in Tsetserleg, Mongolia working on a couple of stories, and became immediately enamoured by the town and its environment. 

Stepping off the bus felt like stepping onto the set of a period drama: horseman galloped around town, traditionally dressed nomads wander the streets. It has its issues too, of course, which are also immediately apparent: some buildings are decaying, and drunks are everywhere. 

But it felt immediately comfortable, fascinating and welcoming.

Tsetserleg is one of Mongolia's larger rural towns. Its population of 20,000 allows it to maintain many of the comforts of urban life while feeling extremely close to nature and the countryside. In town, its not uncommon to find livestock and their herders. And it's just a 15 minute walk into the national park that surrounds the township. 

I stayed at the Fairfield Cafe/Guesthouse, an Australian-run enterprise which I was writing a feature story on for the ABC. Murray and Liz, the owners, made the entire experience of Tsetserleg even better than I would have imagined. With their wealth of knowledge about the area, they informed me (and everyone else who passed through their guesthouse) about the virtues of the area and how to access them. They even invited me to dinner one night. It was extremely odd sitting and having a regular Australian family dinner here, in the heart of Mongolia. 

In between speaking with Murray, Liz and others for reporting purposes, I spent my afternoons wandering in the hills. The hiking was unbelievable - and unspoilt. There are few paths in those hills, just open green hillsides dotted with thin pine forests. The snow had melted, and the rivers had grown healthy. One afternoon, I hired a bike and made a 60km round-trip to the vast, open plains nearby, riding past the few friendly nomads who populated them. 

Tsetserleg was a place I wished I didn't have to leave. But all too soon, those glorious sun-filled days were over. 

A more detailed update about Tsetserleg to come.

In the meantime,  Read More From My Time in Tsetserleg Here



Standing atop a hill in the national park nearest Tsetserleg. Town in the background. 

A flock grazes in Arkhangai province, near Tsetserleg. 

The national park near Tsetserleg is rich in green hills and pine forests. 

Tsetserleg at dusk.