Published: October 8th 2010September 10th 2010
After a nice rest in our guest house we decided to explore the city. The heat was unbelievable and the traffic was heavy. The first priority was to pick up our Ulaanbaatar to Beijing train tickets from the office of a Real Russia partner company in Ulaanbaatar. There was not enough time to post these to us in the UK before we left for Istanbul, as they are printed less than two weeks before the date of travel, so instead, Igor at Real Russia had emailed me instructions on how to find the office and a basic map. After some hunting around and asking for directions we found the office and collected our tickets.
For the next hour or so, we slowly strolled the city looking at the various sights. Sukhbaatar square is almost in the centre of the city. At one end is the Museum of Natural Mongolian History, which has a huge statue of Chinggis Khaan outside it, with statues either side, of Mongolian warriors on horses. Very impressive statues. The square itself was huge, and looking down from the museum end, you can see large hills in the distance, above the buildings.
for lunch in a place called Modern Nomads. This restaurant had a huge selection of reasonably priced dishes of all sorts. Everything from easy western style food to extreme Mongolian dishes like “Baked Sheeps Head” and “Vitals Soup” - a soup containing pretty much every vital organ found in an animal. Crystal and I went half way and chose a dish of noodle and vegetable mix covered in thin slices of lamb. It tasted great but was intended for 2 to 4 people, so we were pretty stuffed by the time we finished!
After the meal we decided to go in search for a new mobile phone handset for laetitia, as her screen had cracked earlier on in the day. It was possibly the best city for picking up a cheap phone - phone shops everywhere, including a 3 story building the size of Harrods, selling nothing but used handsets! Unfortunately as Laetitia was on the Orange tarrif, none of the handsets worked, however, it didnt take long to find someone who could fix the screen on her existing handset.
The last stop of the day was the famous monastery Gandad Khiid, so we decided to get a
taxi there. The taxi cost about £1 and the driver gave us a CD he was playing, as a gift! The CD was hip-hop music that his teenage son had created (his son was on the cover). He wanted nothing in return and was just happy to give us this gift! His way of welcoming us appears to be typical of Mongolians, which instantly makes travellers feel comfortable and happy to be in Mongolia!
The monastery was very picturesque and with the dusty fog (smog) of the city and the sun quite low in the sky, had an amazingly calm feel about it. It was very colourful and had monks in red and yellow robes and thick black boots walking around. It was a very peaceful place.
After a 5 minute rest at the guest house, I sent a text to Angela and Liam, who's numbers I had got on the train the night before. We met them in the “Grand Khaan Irish Pub” recommended by Lonely Planet, at 8pm. They were joined by Scott, an American traveller who they had met in their hostel. Scott was on a 4 week trip and had just been to North
Korea! Having been keen to visit North Korea myself, I had a million questions for him, and he explained about his strange visit over a few beers.
Upon leaving the pub, we all tried to put in for the bill. Unfortunately as there are NO COINS in the Mongolian currency, we were all standing in a big circle for about 10 minutes, each with huge wads of cash bursting out of our hands. The bill only came to about £10 in the end!!
We stopped in at another pub on the way back to the hostel area, and then said our final goodbyes and wished each other luck.
All round a great day in Ulaanbaatar. The people are very friendly, the atmosphere is great and there is plenty to see and do!
There are more photos below