Day #81: Terelj National Park

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June 23rd 2013
Published: June 25th 2013
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Because of its proximity to Ulaanbaatar - only about an hour's drive - Terelj National Park is touristy, in fact the first part of Mongolia I have been to that could really be described as such. Ger camps are as frequent as hotels in the city, lined up one after the other, and I even saw one where some of the gers, on closer inspection, turned out to be be made of concrete. Maybe for people who want to fool their families into thinking they stayed in a ger? Others were in garish colours, bright blues and oranges. At the entrance to the park there was a collection of grand-looking houses, which turned out to be the holiday homes of wealthy Mongolians.

The park's main attraction is the Gunjiin Sum monastery, which sits up in the hills with views across the park. It survived the Soviets, according to our guide, because of its inaccessibility (these days there is a road leading right up to the foot of the hill). There were a significant number of Mongolian tourists, plus groups from China, Japan and Korea visiting. The monastery itself is unremarkable, but the setting is really beautiful, and you cross a rope bridge over the valley to access it.

We then returned to Ulaanbaatar. The first 60km or so took about an hour, then it took us about as long to travel a tenth of that once we reached the city boundary. When I got back there was no hot water at the hostel, so I took a cold shower and went to bed.

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