19 jul 2009. Serbia Belgrade.
So far I visited around 62 countries of Asia, Africa and Europe, and I plan to tour at least as much. To travel across, literally, the entire planet. However, only four or five countries give me that amazing feeling, only for them I can say they are really great. Among them is Serbia, a country of my dreams, in which I returned. These are the words that I hear from mr Zolbajar, long-haired 30-year-old from Mongolia who’s been traveling around the world for the past three and a half years. On the Internet, just as in many countries he visited, he had already become a hit, known by his nickname – Amai The Mongol. Obscure light in a Belgrade cafe where we met, the night before his departure to Kosovska Mitrovica, from where he will go to Bulgaria,
illuminates the scar on his forehead. Amai shrugs his shoulders.
– Trust me, buddy, I have no idea how I earned this. I know only that I was last night, in Vojvodina, and that I was drinking “pelinkovac”. But I guess that night was totally crazy – he said with a smile. Then he presses my recorder and starts telling his incredible life story, revealing what forced this young man with three degrees, who is also a journalist, writer, musician and the first Mongolian DJ, to go with a backpacks throughout the continents, driven by the nomadic hunger from the blood of
his ancestors …
– This trip is in my blood. There’s this ancient nomadic Mongolian tradition called badarhin. It indicates the need for young people to go where they have never been, and return richer because of a great experience. Only then can we settle down and start a family. For more than a century, the custom was forgotten, and I decided to renew it.
– I think I’ll be able to visit at least 150 countries in four or five years. I describe my travels, I have a website, and sometimes my journeys can be read in Mongolian newspapers. All I know, I will go back to my country until I do what I imagined.
– Sometimes I find accommodation, sometimes I just plant a tent by the road … One of my rules is “do not leave anything behind.” I collect everything in one pile and set it on fire. Wardrobe, garbage, things that I got … Even my hair. This is one of the nomadic rules, do not pollute nature.
– I had a dream – to visit Yugoslavia. Many people from my country, especially the young, wanted to come here. We never thought that much about America or Japan, but about you. You were our role models. Once, as a kid, I think in 1997, I went to the embassy of Yugoslavia in Ulaanbataar, to see what I need for a visa. And the guy at the consulate told me: “You know something, I have no idea for which country you could use this, because I’m not sure who I represent here. I can issue you a
visa for Yugoslavia.”
– I didn’t go then, but here I am now. The first time I arrived here, by train, I was greeted by the ugly side of the railway station. I saw old buildings and quite unhappy people, and I was stunned. Is this the land of my dreams, I asked myself? But then I saw the whole town, the whole country, and I loved it.
– Serbia is one of the greatest countries. Syria, Montenegro, Serbia… That’s what I like. I was here last spring, and then I came back because of the Universiade and “EXIT”. People are good, attentive, and I feel completely safe. From here I went to Bosnia and Montenegro, and I was especially enchanted by Herceg Novi.
– I noticed that many people from Serbia and ex-Yugoslavia want to go abroad to earn money. I do not understand it. I tell my friends from here: “Money isn’t everything. Abroad, you will be just a number. And here, you are the people.”
Amai tells me that the girls in the Balkans are, perhaps, the most beautiful in the world, but there’s something in them he doesn’t like.
– I see girls in high heels, in short skirts, as if they stepped from the fashion runway. Whenever I go out to a club, either in Belgrade or in Montenegro, I almost feel sick how good they look. But it is often just empty beauty. They do not play small, sweet games with the guys, like they don’t know how to flirt, to outsmart guys…
Bananas and Rakija
Whenever I go to a country, I eat local food, drink, drink, try to learn as many words in that language.
– The hardest thing was when I had to eat fish. We Mongols almost never eat it. Also, Africa. Banana for breakfast, banana for lunch, butter banana, banana cake … And the next morning – bananas again. So I’m better when I come to countries like Serbia, where the food is really good.
– In Mongolia we have beer and brandy made from milk. Some beverages make you violent, some make you happy. Serbian brandy makes you happy. That’s one of the things I’d bring to Mongolia and tell people “Those Serbs really drink this a lot”