Ulaanbaatar City Mongolia - July 13th

Ulaanbaatar Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 15 › view all entries
The first bus has returned fully repaired. David and I decided to travel in the luggage bus for the piece and quiet and my nerves. If I here one more stupid comment I will scream. And David can stop the van and photograph the trains is he sees some. Poor Monique has just got her period in this wild place. I don’t envy her.
I spoke too soon, no sooner had I arrived in UB than I needed a toilet. I am nauseous with sore joints with a fever. Great! I have to miss the last evening of UB and my free time. I had great plans for the arvo, but I can feel myself swing from very cold to very hot. I can’t eat anything at all and water is a struggle. I have to get the train tomorrow, so I hope it is the 24 hour virus that is going around the group. Fingers crossed. David was sent out into the rain to enjoy UB and see his train museum. I hope he has a better time than me. He is going to the concert tonight and I am going to watch discovery channel. The hotel is magic. Easily the best one, it has high speed internet for $us6 a day and cable TV. If I was going to be sick, this is the place. I am in the 12th floor but my eyes can’t look at the bright light.
Lets hope better tomorrow?
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We woke up early to have another attempt at the showers. This time I did get hot water but still in a trickle. There was another horde of bugs to attack me and I even ran from the shower when a mozzie flew at me. The mozzies here are HUGE! Poor food quality again, the salami (Ew) looked old and left out for ages and all the food was crawling with flies. David and I stuck to mostly drinks. The bus driver had sat up most of the night and fixed the oil problem, but no-one realised the airbag problem. We had to travel 2.5hours back to UB on dirt roads and even worse the tarred roads. I was so sick along with many others, as we limped into UB. We went straight to the big Naadam festival. The wrestling event was on, but as with a lot of big city events, it was too far away to see. I am very grateful we went to the little rural Naadam festival first. David and I got very bored and walked around the outside of the stadium. David grabbed a kebab to substitute for Breakfast and we got back to the luggage van on time. The old bus was away being replaced. The new bus had airbag problems at the rear axle and all the cry babies there complained bitterly for the 1 hour to the Ger camp. I went horse riding on the man’s horse and I realised that I had not ridden a horse since 1990. A long time and I jumped off fairly quickly.
I am sitting in a tent filled with tables and western food, in my ‘traditional Host’ Family camp. Many people here didn’t realise that the company catered our stay. A nomadic family couldn’t support 19 westerners. There was an ‘ask the dumbest question’ session with the family, the baby and mother looked very put out. I felt bad as the little baby (So cute) kept saying bye bye to us. A lot of people here think that these people are uneducated and live in a 3rd world country. They didn’t not listen to the guide or read anything about the country prior to coming. To clear the air here are the answers to the most common questions I keep hearing over and over.
1. Yes they go to school in the city. From 2 years old the child lives with a relative and returns to the family in holidays
2. Yes they have cars
3. Yes they know what a microwave is, computers, and mobile phones. They just have no real use for these things. Some Gers have satellite TV.
4. Yes they have electricity. Like David’s place at RI, they have a small solar system that gives power for lights and TV.

We are now sleeping in a tent. As the idea of sleeping with 10 precious princesses annoys me to no end.
At least the Tent has a mozzie net and cross flow ventilation.

full, hot and sweaty day. We had to leave our nice heaven in the hills Ger camp and were driven back to UB. Went to see Zaison Memorial to WW2 on the top of a hill. There was a small shop that sold art, wool wares and post cards. They also had those Mongolian Slippers for $US8 a pair so many of the group bought some. Very comfortable to wear. Just at the bottom of the hill is a standing Buddha which we only had a photo stop for. Got whisked off to the main UB Naadam festival. The traffic was nightmarish and the bus driver eventually gave up and we walked to the archery. The Naadam in UB is far too busy and with no real traffic laws being enforced, impossible to control. We all agreed that yesterday’s one at the small town was much better.
After a browse in the markets (couldn’t get close enough to the events, Con paid a musician to play his traditional instrument whilst David negotiated a coffee for me.) we were taken to a Chinese restaurant of all things. All you can eat but I can eat that at home. Poor Maria accidently had paprika and had an allergic reaction. The drinks were in $US so we had no idea what they were exchanging the money to and therefore had no idea how much a drink cost.
We were due to drive to the horse racing this afternoon, but the traffic was again totally out of control and it took hours to get anywhere. The police stopped people travelling into town and used both sides of the road to try to clear some of the mess. (See youtube when I get home) By the time we got to the finish line, the fastest horses had passed us. The dust was a phenomenon in itself. All I have of the big race is small horse shaped dots running on the horizon in a cloud of dust. ON the way back to the bus, some of us decided to buy some pictures from a local artist. The trouble is one sees you buying and they all come. A horror ride over the fields of Mongolia with the whole population of UB. It was funny watching these little 4cylinder Japanese/Korean cars doing 4wding. They almost all got stuck. We had a 2.5hour ride in this Kia bus ahead of us to the Hustai National Park. Our traditional Ger was made of cement, where others got a more traditional felt/canvas one. This cement one felt like a little cell. The showers work only for 2 hours a session and during this session, there was no water pressure and no hot water. Lots of mossies and beetles. The food was inedible and everyone complained about it. I just left it and went to have a snooze.
We got hauled into the bus again to hunt for Taikha(spelling?), the re-introduced native horse type creature. Not a horse but it does look like one. They are always wild, the guide saying that like tigers or lions you can’t use them for house hold usage. On the way I saw 11 marmots, 2 mice, 4 birds, 1 beetle and 2 butterflies then the tikha. The paid spotter spotted nothing. We have no idea why he even came. ON the trip back, our bus had a huge bang, which we initially thought was a stone but later we realised it was the front suspension exploding. There was also a fall in oil pressure so the bus driver had to nurse it home.
Tomorrow off to a ‘host‘ family
A few more members are sick now, Con being struck down early today. We now have 3 sick at once. Pick up from the train was painless, the Mongol tour company was ready with easy to see uniforms and porter trolleys for all the bags so for once we didn’t have to carry them to the bus. 
The first thing they took us to was the 24hour bank, where those of us who didn’t encourage the money sharks on the train had a reason to be smug. We got a much better rate, 1162tourag to the US dollar.
We tried to learn how to say “Thank You “ in Mongolian but it is more difficult than it looks. It can’t really be learnt by reading, you really need a native speaker. Tan Bai-hlar is my phonetic spelling with the H being a throat clearing sound. This is certainly one language I would really struggle with.
We settled into the Ger Hotel in the middle of nowhere. We are staying in different one tomorrow which means no unpacking.  The hotel is very comfortable and highly recommended. The landscape here is very Australian. If you live in the South/West of NSW, you will feel at home here. Most of us do. The Canadians are fish out of water. Poor things the dry dust is getting them down. The rolling hills have lots of livestock that is free to wander and the little Gers look like little mushrooms dotting the landscape. No trees. This land and so few trees so just say no trees. The only trees are planted by Japanese and US residents.
We saw a local Nadaam festival, the main one being in the capital Ulaanbaatar which we will see tomorrow. The wrestling was exciting and the archery amazing. The children are as young as 4 in the archery and the horse racing. The little kids are very very cute in their national costumes. The littlies do a 10km race!

Airag is as horrible as it sounds. It had a smell that warned me of dire consequences but David insisted that I try it. I did (stupid me) and tried to hide my retching from the family. Just revolting. There are other dairy delights all made out of mare’s milk, so I did try small pieces. I do know that mare’s milk tastes OK in coffee.
Spent the afternoon resting and catching up on journaling. Most people slept including David who had 4 hours of rest. We are all suffering a sleep debt with short nights and early starts. I drank some of the extra alcohol we had left from Russia and watched the horses and cows walk by. Some tour members walked up the nearest hill where they tell me there is a terrific view. After Dinner, the Japanese choir that was sharing the camp with us danced and sang around the campfire. The Numa Numa song (dragon say dei tei) was played and I showed the aussies that Gary Dance that goes with that song. It was very funny when some joined in.
Mongolia is just lovely.

photo by: Biedjee