There is one form of traffic control that every driver recognizes and obeys, and that is any one of the 50 million livestock in this country of 3 million people. Horses, cows, sheep, goats, and the occasional pigs— they own the roads. The populace calls them the “traffic police.”
Sometimes they are herded across the road by a nomad on a horse or, increasingly, a motor bike. Often times, crossing the road is a whim by the herd because, as we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the road.
On one stretch of road, we waited patiently as a large herd of sheep and goats (they’re always together for some reason) crossed the highway on front of us, wandered a hundred and fifty feet or so up the side of the road, and then crossed back over.
In the evening, you see the herders taking their livelihood home to the corrals for the night to protect them from the wolves. Whether the animals understand this purpose or are simply used to doing it every single day, is difficult to determine, but they go willingly and the herder has little to do but urge along a laggard goat or cow.
Several times I saw herds on the move with no herder in sight, especially the Mongolian horses, those tough, short little animals with long manes and tails trotting purposefully in single file as dusk grew deeper.
But, enough singing the praises of the Mongolian horse and back to the lesson in this post: Don’t even think about renting a car in Mongolia. Hire a driver instead; it’s an adventure not to be missed.