'It's true freedom': He creates the first Mongolian yurt getaway in Singapore to bring nomadic way of life here

PHOTO: Beyond Expeditions, Instagram/beyondexpeditionssg

Mongolia is known as the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky, and its countryside boasts boundless plains with nary a person in sight.

You might think that's an experience impossible to replicate in bustling Singapore, but Beyond Expeditions founder Scott Tay is hoping to do just that.

Before the pandemic, the 29-year-old's boutique travel agency had organised trips to other locations such as Ladakh and Kazakhstan, but he tells AsiaOne that Mongolia holds a special place in his heart.

"It's true freedom when we are out of the capital and in the countryside," he enthuses. "The steppes, the grassland, the wilderness. It just seems endless."

With the pandemic making trips to Mongolia near impossible, Scott hatched the idea to bring a piece of Mongolia to Singapore by setting up a two-day-one-night yurt getaway.

"We want more people to be exposed to Mongolian culture and also the nomadic way of life," he tells us.

Make no mistake. This is no glamping experience.

Not only will participants get to sleep in a traditional yurt, sourced from the Embassy of Mongolia and decorated with furniture imported directly from Mongolia, they'll also learn basic survival skills and how to live in the wilderness.

Think firewood chopping, woodfire cooking, and even building their own makeshift shelter.

Scott also hopes to impart "little cool, fun facts" about Mongolian culture. For example, whistling in yurt is frowned upon because it's a taboo. Within the yurt, you're also only allowed to walk in a clockwise direction.

But rest assured — the yurt, set up in the northern part of Singapore, still has modern amenities such as lights and a portable air-con.

While it was only launched recently, the overnight experience took about five months to put together, says Scott.

The yurt looks pristine and Insta-worthy now, but when he first took it out of storage some five months ago, it was in a state of disrepair, he recalls.

"It was in a very, very bad condition. When the Mongolians saw it, they were shocked.

"It was infested with cockroaches, the cloth was stained very badly and there were lots of holes as well that needed to be patched up."

The furniture took another two months to ship in from Mongolia, and cost about $6,000 in all.

But with some work, the yurt — complete with Scott's own souvenirs from his travels and a deel (traditional Mongolian clothing) — now looks perfectly cosy and wouldn't look out of place on Mongolia's steppes.

And if you're not up for the full camping experience, but still want to enjoy the space, stay tuned for more updates. Scott says his team may offer the yurt as an event space and photoshoot location in the near future.

He adds: "We want more people who are stuck in Singapore, especially Singaporeans who travelled a lot before Covid-19, to experience a piece of Mongolia."

To register for the yurt getaway, click here

kimberlylim@asiaone.com