I used to hate my upbringing until....Mongolia teach me a valuable life lesson
Updated: Feb 27
'Pain is when you are slowly dying on the inside and you're way too weak to speak about it, so you keep silent and suffer, alone - Anonymous'.
Since I was young, I hate my upbringing. As the eldest son in the traditional Chinese family, I was bestowed with high expectation from my big extended family. My given name is 强 (Strong in Chinese). This show how high their expectation is toward me. I was trained to be strong and any sign of weakness was not tolerated. Slowly, all the pains started to accumulate in a corner of my heart.
Entering school, I was expected to perform well academically. I did quite well academically and again, I was denied the fair opportunity to further study in the subject of my choice due to financial problem and also the quota system that had long existed in Malaysia education system.
History class had always fascinated me. Entering secondary school, I learn about 1 particular historical figure. His name is Temujin or better known as Genghis Khan who has a particular hard upbringing but he succeeds in changing his life to become one of the greatest conquerors that has ever grace the world's map. Hence, I give myself a name; Temj Chin (sound similar to Temujin, right😊) because I wish I could achieve success in my life even with less than satisfied upbringing. However, not many people know about this name that I gave myself🤣 .
First Step into Land of Temujin
As I step down from Trans Mongolia train from Beijing, I was in aw. Finally, I able to step into the land of my idol. Excited, I can't wait to explore more about his life. Mongolia is the first totally 'foreign' country that I had ever visited.
I was shocked by what I saw here. I can't imagine this used to be the largest empire in the world. There is no trace of resemble of its former glory.
Escaping from my life's history
I was in escape mode during travelling. I 'ran' away from everything. Seeking solace in an unknown land, I was struggling from memories from high expectation, unfairness in my childhood and my failed relationship. I am looking for a way to end my life without directly ending it because of that 1 promise that I had with my mom.
In Mongolia, I had done various crazy things that I had never imagine I will be doing it to end my life in 'unintentionally' way.
Mid-night Wolf Attack, Gers and become Potential Prey for predator of the sky
I started my trip by visiting Altai mountain in Western Mongolia. Winter in 2019 come early and it's started to snow in early October.
On the second day, braving knee-high snow, our entourage started to hike to the glacier. As I had been in self-destructive mode from almost 2 years, my stamina had hit rock bottom. Coupled with high attitude, I was struggling to gasp for air and I ended up being the last in my group.
There are instant where I almost collapsed. However, I force myself to keep moving to avoid being become prey to the predator of the sky. A group of eagles are flying above me. Awaiting for my fresh meat the moment I collapsed.
Basic Utilities are basically not existence here
Imagine staying in 1 of these Ger in the middle of winter. Cold wind sipping from the uncovered canvas into your bone. As someone from tropical country, this is catastrophic. There is no heater, electricity and running water. To get drinking water, I need to brave the cold wind and walk about 150m to nearest water to collect it. And imagine squatting in open pit toilet (basically just a hole to discharge your body 'waste' into) and have to pray no wind is blowing toward your direction (believe me, when the cold wind blow toward your bottom, the feeling is indescribable) . At the same time, you going to pray your belonging in your pocket will not drop into it because once you drop it, it will be mixed with various organic materials. Whew.... what an experience.
That night, I was constantly wakened up by dropping temperature. The Ger heating system is the burning stove where in the evening, we have stack up its fuel (animal dung) for that night usage. As the fuel burned up, someone needs to wake up and feed the burner with animal dung to prevent us from becoming popsicle. In dawn, I was awakened by loud sound of animal wailing and gunshot. We are being attacked by a pack of wolf.
And I hit my record by not showering for 10 days in the row. Yes, you can shower there but in a cold freezing river which I politely decline because I am scared my heart will stop anytime the moment I was showered with this stream water.
Hot water shower is a luxury in Mongolia (except UlanBataar). For nomadic tribe and those living in small town, it's is non-existence.
To take a hot shower, the local will visit one of the shower houses as shown in the photo.
Mongolia does have telephone and internet connection. But this is mostly limited to the city or town. In remote area like The Altai, you are basically disconnected from the real world as not even mobile phone call are reachable here.
Falling in Love with Mongolia
As my phones are running out of battery and no Internet connection, it give me times to truly reflect on my life.
Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. - Charles R.Swindoll
With beautiful snow mountain and refreshing wind, I finally for the first time in so many years to be able to sit down and take a step back to see the beauty that always surrounds me yet was ignored.
Before my visit here, I always blame everything for all the misfortune I had experience during my upbringing. However, by experiencing all these in such a short period of time, it makes me realise I am very lucky because;
i. I do no need to walk 150m in freezing temperature to the river to fetch drinking
water. I just need to walk to the kitchen.
ii. My toilet comes with running water and with a door.
iii. I was protected from young and growing up relatively freely without the fear of wolf
or Eagle attacks.
iv. When I felt cold, I can just control the temperature of the room with a touch of
button. I don't need to spend the whole day collecting yak, cow and horse's dung just
to survive the night.
v. And most importantly, I can take a hot shower whenever I want it.
Life is precious gift. Don't waste it being unhappy, dissatisfied or anything else you can be. - Anonymous
Mongolia teaches me that I had wasted 33 years of my life being unhappy with things that I don't have and ignored all the blessing that I have. That moment, I told myself; I would craft the future that I want instead of burying myself on history.