Mongolian Altai is another world altogether. High-altitude, dry, barren, over-grazed. It is here that you will find unique old customs preserved - customs that in Kazakhstan and Russia have fallen victim to socialism, and modernisation.
The border with Mongolia has improved, but it's still a slow affair, with short opening hours, and many people queueing up the night before to be first in the morning, opening times that don't take into consideration the time difference between Russia and Mongolia, much unnecessary red type on the Mongolian side, and suspicion on the Russian side. I mean… what can, potentially, a foreigner be smuggling from Russia to Mongolia? And not to mention the numerous trucks crossing. Times change. Our world has outgrown borders, but borders stubbornly refuse to concede defeat.
We find the Mongolian part of Altai so stunningly gorgeous, that we decided to include it in our Best of Mongolia and Siberia tour. Accommodation is far from a Four Seasons hotel, yet it is comfortable enough. Food is good. Main roads have improved tremendously (no more breakdowns or getting stuck in the sand). The off roading, when you have to do it, is fun, and distances are not long. The people, and their culture, are unique. This is a place we can't tell you about - we don't have words to describe it - for we can only show you.
As for the Russian Altai, we did consider it for our journey, but the border crossing is long, and at the end we thought there are more memorable parts of Siberia, like Yakutia and the north of Baikal, that we want to show you.
Our dream is to one day make a circum-Altai trip, starting in China and then going clockwise - Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. There are too many borders and red tape at the moment. But it's a dream, and beware dreams, for they may come true!Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components of a book into a coherent whole. In the words of Jan Tschichold, "methods and rules upon which it is impossible to improve, have been developed over centuries. To produce perfect books, these rules have to be brought back to life and applied."
Front matter, or preliminaries, is the first section of a book, and is usually the smallest section in terms of the number of pages. Each page is counted, but no folio or page number is expressed, or printed, on either display pages or blank pages.