Almost four and half years ago, a 26 year old Mongolian named J.Zolbayar, known as Amai, left Mongolia by Trans-Siberian railway to Moscow to start his solo journey to see the world.
Amai has celebrated his birthdays in four different countries and has visited 69 countries so far, including every single country in the African continent and in Europe. So far he is the only Mongolian traveling around the world alone. I guess there are some Mongolians who visited many places in the world - but not like him.
Right now Amai is in Mongolia. He is still spending nights in his sleeping bag and still hitchhiking to his destinations. He thinks that if you have not seen your own country you cannot be proud of saying that you have seen the world. I agree with him; I could proudly write that I have seen many parts of my country but I did not visit every corner of it.
At the beginning of May he entered Mongolia from China, and he should arrive in the Mongolian capital Ulaabaatar on 16 May to have his welcoming party at the capital’s main square, Sukhbaatar.
These days he is busy visiting some sacred places in the country and talking with schoolchildren and young people about his travel. In the late morning of 16 May he will start his journey to his meeting point using the most significant transport for Mongolians – a horse.
I think this is first time Amai will be traveling by horse. In the past he used a plane once, as well as trains, boats and mostly cars to get to his destination. He did not just pass through any countries, to boost his total. His goal is to learn certain countries' culture, especially music because he is a musician. He majored in an international public relations at a Mongolian university and this became one of his reasons why he started traveling around the world. Although he speaks Russian, English and Japanese but still had language problems in some countries where he visited.
During these four and half years he was sick with malaria, met guerrilla warlords, went through fields and land mines, and suffered theft of his belongings but still he managed to continue writing about his travel and his thoughts in his blog.
After Mongolia he will pursue his goal to travel around the world but not alone. This time he wants to travel in a group of four or five people with a Mongolian tent and an exhibition about Mongolia. The reason is that in many parts of the world, people do not know much about Mongolia, and he has an ambition to spread the word about Mongolian culture.
In the past, a few countries refused him visa but, hopefully, the officials might realise his peaceful purpose to understand different traditions and cultures and extend knowledge about Mongolia.
Last January he was in Portugal. Portugal was the 51st country on his list. In his blog Amai wrote (he writes mostly in Mongolian) that Lisbon is an old city with lots of run down buildings and graffiti, which reminded him of Mozambique and Angola. This is because these countries were old Portuguese colonies.
I agree with him but he has not seen some official graffiti walls dedicated for artists. I had not known he was here; because of my newborn baby, I stopped following his blog for a while. In his blog he does not really give his future plans anyway. His travel depends on certain countries' hospitality, visa, transport or just simply where the wind blows him.
Last summer I called Amai (I cannot remember where he was at that time) and said that I would like to interview him and write about him. Unfortunately, this hasn't happened because my sick baby needed my full attention and finding Amai is pure luck.
I can only wish him good luck in the future and to enjoy his stay with his parents, friends and relatives in his home country, Mongolia. At last, his mother N.Oyunchimeg will be able to see him in front of her and she can have a good night's sleep.
If you want to read some of his articles in English press here
OR you can follow him on facebook