Blogs from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Asia - page 5


Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar September 6th 2013

Hustai National Park is about 100km outside Mongolia's capital Ulan Baatar. There are, of course, tours that go out there but I like to do things by myself because it's more fun and cheaper. I had started by emailing the Hustai National Park Trust to see if I could book a ger (a Mongolian tent, called a yurt by Russians). I also knew they had a staff mini-van that went to the park and back every Sunday and Friday, in which tourists could ride. The van costs US$30 return which is not cheap, especially considering the van is going there anyway, but still cheaper than a tour. A ger cost US$69 per day including three meals. I was going to take my own food so the price of the ger was instead US$31 per day. Oddly ... read more
my ger at Hustai
inside of my ger at Hustai

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar September 1st 2013

And now I'm in Mongolia! It is quite exciting. Some places in the world I've always wanted to go because just their names make me salivate. Borneo and Sulawesi I have got to already. Tierra del Fuego I haven't. Mongolia I think might be the most exotic-sounding of the lot and I'm finally here. I took a bus from Ulan Ude for twelve hours to get to Mongolia's capital city Ulan Baatar (it's had all sorts of variations in its spelling over the years, but Ulan Baatar seems to be the current one). Russian customs were pretty straightforward, if overly long because they had to process the entire bus. Oddly enough all luggage was x-rayed which is a bit weird when leaving a country by a land border. Presumably they were checking to make sure nobody ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 8th 2013

From my five days here the one word that dominates my description of Ulaanbaatar is Random. That word doesn’t even really mean anything but seriously in Mongolia it seems people just do whatever want. My first impression when I get off the train is influenced by the ‘car park’ which our bus was parked in. Now when I say car park what I really mean is just a bunch of cars in no particular order just strewn about this area next to the station. Unsurprisingly it was rather difficult for the driver to manoeuvre out of and although everyone was constantly leaning on their horns no one seems phased in the slightest by the chaos. The same goes for when you’re on the road, you give way to who you want, you slip in and expect ... read more
Wouldn't be a Mongolian Country club if it wasn't named after Chenggis

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar July 21st 2013

Chukka’s, the playing of mostly 4 sometimes 8 x 7 minute periods. Polo, a fiercely competitive game, akin to rugby on horse back, used in ancient times as cavalry training, battle without the sword The Mongolian horse is centuries of breeding, obviously hardy as they are turned out in the mountains over winter. There are moments of great hilarity watching big western men select, mount and try to drive these little horses, “basically stable”, was Jarrod’s comment. There are six teams gathered for this exhibition, two Mongolian boys, one Mongolian girls, one each of Harvard and the Kiwi team. Early afternoon it got quite cold and stormy, the tent blew down, heavy rain showers, chaos of wet gear, two teams still playing, the show must go on, all this observed from the bowels of the downed ... read more
Two beautiful Ladies
I love my horses
How do I.......

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar July 11th 2013

We only spent one night in Ulan-Ude and just had enough time to visit the main attractions such as Soviet Square, the opera house and Lenins head. I was slightly more interested in the mix of culture. Being on the Asian side of Russia and very close to the Mongolian border there was a larger mix of people. The food was also slightly different from Moscow and the prices cheaper. We had to be up at 7 to catch the bus to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia the next day. We were told it was a 12 hour journey which was fine. The first part was pretty spectacular, it seems Russia had decided now is a good time to improve all the roads we needed to travel on which involved a serious bit of off roading in the ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar June 24th 2013

Naran Tuul market is known by everyone locally as the Black Market, though not everything sold there is counterfeit. I went today with the intention of buying flip-flops, but when I found a pair I liked and asked the stallholder for help, she shouted "net, net" and angrily shoo-ed me away from the stall, so I came away empty-handed. It was anyway interesting to walk around the market, which is so huge that it is overwhelming and disorientating to begin with. The biggest sections are clothes, shoes and fabrics and there is a large food hall where you can buy whole carcasses, but the most intersting part is the section for kitting out a ger, where I saw all the ephemera I had become accustomed to observing in gers multiplied by thousands. It was surreal to ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar June 23rd 2013

The Mongolian presidential election is being held on the 26th June, and the signs are everywhere, including a rally I saw in Sukhbaatar Square today for the incumbent. I have witnessed lots of discussion about the election, including between our driver and guide, and it is heartening to see the level of interest shown by everyone, particularly young people (maybe for Mongolians living in a democracy is still new enough to be exciting). There are three candidates, one of whom is the first woman to stand for presidency in Mongolia, although she has the lowest profile of the three. The current president, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, was one of the leaders of the democratic revolution in Mongolia back in the 1990s and has already been president twice in the past - a lot of his popularity seems to ... read more
Election poster

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar June 22nd 2013

The National History Museum has a monument outside stating "No to death penalty". Inside, the museum doesn't seem especially political as you walk through the earlier rooms, charting Stone Age history through to modern nomadic life, via traditional constumes and Chinggis Khaan. But the later rooms of the museum are the most interesting, describing the perceived oppression first by the Chinese and then by the Soviet Union rule. Mongolia appears to have always resented Chinese rule - even now, I have heard Mongolians lament that Inner Mongolia remains part of China - but the Russians were initially relatively welcome as they had supported Mongolians as a way to free themselves from China. The usual features of Soviet rule - forced co-operatives, purges - extended to Mongolia. The museum has an interesting section on the rewards given ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar June 22nd 2013

The main temple (the Migjid Janraisig Sum) at the Gandan monastery doesn't look that spectacular from the outside, but the inside houses an enormous Buddha statue, around 80 feet tall. I thought the temple must have been built around the idol, because they are more or less the same height, but the statue is apparently new, a replacement after the Soviets destroyed the original. A Buddhist monastery (Khiid) consists of a collection of temples and other buildings (including schools and administrative buildings) and at Gandan Khiid it is possible to wander around the different temples. The main temple is used by a steady stream of Mongolian worshippers, the prayer wheels are constantly turning, and there are offerings (mostly sweets and money) at all the idols in the various temples. It is also traditional to feed the ... read more
Migjid Janraisig statue
Temple in approaching thunderstorm
Monastery in thunderstorm

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar June 22nd 2013

Zaisan Memorial is the best place to get a view of Ulaanbaatar from above, on a hill on the outskirts of the city. It only took about 40 minutes to walk there from the city centre, which shows how small an area Ulaanbaatar covers. From the Memorial it is easy to see the problem the city faces: more and more Mongolians want to move to Ulaanbaatar, but the city is surrounded by mountains and further expansion is almost impossible. Ulaanbaatar is therefore crowded, and housing is expensive because there is not enough of it. The traffic jams are also horrendous and there is now a system whereby most vehicles are banned from entering the city on one day of the week , depending on the final digit of the numberplate (only weekdays, everyone can go in ... read more
Soviet monument
River on outskirts of UB

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