Sightseeing in Ulaan Baatar
Ulaanbaatar Travel Blog› entry 8 of 20 › view all entries
The flight back to Ulaan Baatar was much less eventful that the flight out had been. As part of our organised tour we also had some sightseeing lined up in Ulaan Baatar.
We were taken on a trip to the Winter Palace - one of the former homes of the emperor and his wife. The palace is fairly small, but contains displays of some of the royal couple's expensive possessions, which are impressively ornate and elaborate. There was a big charge to take photos so I don't have any photos of the place.
After the Winter Palace we were taken to the factory outlet shop for the cashmere wool factory. We were told that this offered the best prices in town, but I think that this was the usual line spun to tourists - I've experienced the same sort of thing in other places, and as usual the prices are at least as good if not better at the shops in town.
We also went to Gandan monastery. It's the main monastery in Ulaan Baatar and somehow survived the Communist period and the destruction of the monasteries. It's an interesting place to go and see Buddhism at work. There's an enormous Buddha statue in one of the pavillions which you had to pay to take photos of, so again I don't have any photos of that, which is a shame.
We had a trip to the National History Musuem factored into our tour, but we managed to persuade our guide to take us to the Natural History Museum instead.
Every night we would go for meals with our guide; she wouldn't leave us alone! All of the meals were included in the tour, and we did go to some pretty good restaurants. On day 1 they took us to a Mongolian Barbecue, which isn't Mongolian at all; we had to help them with how the process worked!
We also had time for a quick trip to Terelj National Park, where we did a bit of horse riding.
We had a great evening in Ulaan Baatar: England were playing football, and we managed to find an English pub on the main square, called Dave's Place, which was showing the football. We ended up staying late and playing some darts with the regulars. We'd also bumped into a Scottish guy who we'd first met at the hostel in St Petersburg, which is always nice to do.
At this point I was just at the start of what would turn out to be a severe gastro-intestinal problem which would last for a month, and cause me to lose 17kg in weight. In spite of two visits to the clinic in Beijing, no-one could find anything wrong with me, and it eventually went by itself. Not nice!
We'd booked a trip to go to the Gobi desert for our last two days in Mongolia, before getting back on the train and heading to China. However, because I was ill we were unable to go in the end. This meant that we had a whole load of Mongolian currency left over, because we'd changed some US dollars at the bank in readiness for our trip to the Gobi. We decided to hang onto them, and change them in Beijing, which turned out to be a mistake; you can't change Mongolian currency outside Mongolia, so we have them to this day!