Friday, 15 March 2013

Day 88-89 Ulan Bataar

Well, well. Isn't travel just full of surprises. We didn't plan to have any more than 5 days here. Firstly, we heard that UB was one of the most polluted cities in the world. Secondly, typical temperatures are -11 during the day, getting down to -24 overnight. Third, having been a Soviet state for the bulk of last century, we imagined a pretty bleak city.
The sun is shining. The skies and pavements are clear and clean. It's been a balmy 6 degrees today. 9 tomorrow.
There is clear evidence of wealth. The city has a distinct upbeat vibe and a degree of charm (maybe brought on by the warm weather?) Women are well dressed. Western designer labels are making there way into town.

The State Department Store - local to our hotel - is full of well heeled folk buying cosmetics, crystal, electrical appliances, fine clothes...

There are lots of large 4WDs. (We're told the locals live in $30K apartments, but must have a $100K car).
Supposedly the nineties were still hard times for the country, having just achieved independence from their Russian yolk. Now the place is relatively buzzing due mainly to exploitation of mineral resources.
Arriving by train, the outlying suburbs are full of the traditional gers and quaint timber dwellings.

Arriving at the city centre it's another world with new multi story towers, plus we spied around 15 cranes on the skyline.

We were all pretty shattered from the overnight train trip, so laid low and stayed local largely. Doing only a little exploring.
Staying at the Zaya Hostel - set in a pretty grim building, it's a very clean and secure haven from the outside world. Perhaps the cleanest hotel we've stayed in, apart from the five stars.

Day two we ventured over to Subhaatar Square and the Houses of Parliament. Spied the statue of Genghis Khan and a bunch of other wild looking folk.

Then the National Museum of Mongolia, which gave us all a fantastic insight into the history of the country.

Otherwise we strolled, had morning tea, had lunch, the girls had a go at some shopping...

Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom

Location:Ulan Bator,Mongolia

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