This marks the 57th country or territory I’ve visited from the Traveler’s Century Club list and the 44th UN Member State. My desire to visit 193 UN Countries means it’s not often I am willing to visit a country a second time before completing my goal. But I can say confidently I want to return to Mongolia again soon.

I’m so sorry to have missed the Gobi Desert, which by all accounts is stunning. And I really want to see Karakorum, the ancient capital and gateway to the silk road.

But the area where I stayed — the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area — contains some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. I hope my photographs have illustrated that. Given my short stay, I’m glad I visited the Steppe. I felt connected the this country’s fantastic history while I was there.

Genghis Khan encouraged freedom of religion. For himself, though, he chose to worship the “Endless Blue Sky.”

And witnessing its vast expanse while on the Steppe, I can understand why. It’s huge and ever-present.

A vertical panorama of The Endless Blue Sky. At the top, is the landscape behind me. At the bottom, the ger camp in front of me. A mind-bender, I know.

The sky and this landscape are constant reminders of just how small I am. It’s easy to forget the size and scope of our world while flying over so much of it. When it’s all said and done, this RTW trip will log more than 45,000 miles. Think of all the stories I’m missing!

But standing on top of a mountain on the Mongolian steppe, it’s impossible not to consider our place in the never-ending march of history.

And it’s that role — our role — that can make all of the difference.

But we can’t do it alone.

A few countries back, I read an article in which the author was extolling the virtues of his company’s work-from-home policy. He said it was great, but the component he missed the most was the relationships.

“Life is relationships,” he wrote.

Now I know, of course, he wasn’t the first person to say that, but he captured my attention with it.

You see, traveling solo means I’m sometimes isolated. I have to go out of my way to connect with others. And the ger camp was wonderful in that regard. I was surrounded by people from all over the world. A US consultant living in Nigeria. An Austrian diplomat living in Milan. A French Canadian couple. A journalist from the Netherlands.

RTW Trip means circumnavigating the planet

Our conversations about the places we’ve seen, experiences we’ve had, and people we’ve met have been – hands down – the greatest part of this journey so far.

Life is relationships. And travel allows those relationships to flourish across borders in places where they’d otherwise never grow. Thanks to travel, I have friends in Ecuador and Mongolia and the UK and Australia and…

Stay tuned to find out who I met on Jeju Island!