Posted by: kim | June 12, 2007

Greetings from UlaanBaatar

It’s been just over a week now since we left London. We’re currently in UlaanBaatar, Mongolia, after getting off the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow (see Rob’s post for more about the trip itself, plus a few mobile pics here).

UlaanBaatar is a bit of a concrete city in that it has a lot of old Soviet buildings and crumbling architecture, but it also has a lot of development happening: new apartments and hotels are springing up. I get the impression that the city itself is very dry; there aren’t any flowers, for instance, apart from a few weeds, and the trees that do spring up are hardy and sparse. The soil is compact and infertile and I think this is why there aren’t as many vegetables around the place 😉 However, there’s a picturesque view of the mountains and outside the main city itself, there were great views of the gers (traditional felt huts that the nomadic Mongolians use), the mist, the horses and the grassy hills.

We visited a monastery in the local area, and yesterday walked up 600 steps (I counted) atop a Soviet monument that overlooks the city. We hope to get out of the city to look around the place tomorrow, possibly visiting the National Park — we’ll wait and see.

People asked us how we’d manage being vegetarian, as the place is renowned for being about meat (you know… Mongolian barbeque? Mongolian lamb? Mongolian hot pot?). But we’ve managed pretty well so far: our hotel has a great Indian restaurant in it and I ate plenty of food when I had breakfast, including freshly cooked eggs.

Most of the people here seem friendly enough and the little kids are so cute! The women are quite young on average and quite fashion conscious, even wearing stillettos as they push broken down cars away from the side of the road. Speaking of the road, that’s another story: the city’s relatively small, but the roads are pretty chaotic but not as bad as I’ve seen. When you cross the road you have to be assertive and confident because you aren’t going to see a gap unless traffic comes to a standstill. The best strategy is to join either a mother and daughter or a little old lady and let them take the lead as they’re more used to it, and cross the road with them!

In a couple of days we’re going to continue our way to Beijing on the Trans-Mongolian route. As we’ve tried and tested the culinary delights we brought along with us on the Trans-Siberian train without suffering major vitamin depletion, we’re confident that it won’t be a problem eating on the train so long as Rob’s trusty Thermos is with us along with a constant supply of hot water!

If anyone from my (old) work is reading this, thanks for the gifts, guys. The Orikaso fold-flat bowls, plates and cups have been invaluable as has the soft pillow. Also used the rain hood at the train station in Moscow to hide my bag! And if Dom’s reading, we’ve been actively using the washing line, compass, sleep sheet, thermometer and tin mug! Thanks for the loan!

-Kim

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Responses

  1. Hurrah! Glad the gifts are coming in handy! :o)


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