KT Auleta’s Mongolia Diary

The Photographer Gets On Her Motorbike for an Eastern Adventure

KT Auleta’s last contribution to NOWNESS was all glitter and glamour: a fashion film starring Eniko Mihalik in countless crystals. Here she swaps diamonds for desertscapes, with an intimate photo-journal of her trip to Mongolia. The landlocked country has long appeared to the West as wild and mysterious—a place synonymous with nomads and Genghis Khan, Soviet rule and wild horses. Although many of these cultural elements remain, the country is embracing modernization, especially in its capital Ulaanbaatar, where Armani and Louis Vuitton both recently opened flagship stores. The photographer, alongside her husband, Sloan Laurits, toured the country’s more traditional sights, saddling up on Izhmash motorcycles (ubiquitous in Mongolia) and speeding from Ulaanbaatar heading west to Terelji National Park and onto the Gobi desert via winding roads and fields of sage. The couple often spent nights at basic gers (yurt-like settlements for travelers) but were also surprised to find shelter in the homes of locals. Auleta remembers one such night fondly: “We were in the countryside far from a town and we’d run out of gas. It was getting late and a storm was coming. We were arguing when two little boys came up to us and beckoned us towards them. They took us into their yurt, gave us tea and food and invited us to stay. Because the Mongolians have always been a nomadic people, welcoming travelers is simply part of their hospitality.” 

You can plot your own itinerary across Mongolia with Dunhill and Black Tomato—learn about their packages here. 

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