Ulaanbaatar Travel Blog

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There are not words in the english language to describe the kind of cold here in the Mongolian winter.  The numbers on the thermometer simply don't make sense, it has been -21 Farenheit (-30 C) this week.  The human body doesn't really 'feel' these temperatures, it's only when you get back into the heat and feel the warmth soak into your body do you realize how cold you were.  Nothing works like you would expect, anything plastic freezes and becomes as brittle as glass.  Metals shrink and batteries stop working.  My watch display stopped changing, the LCD display doesn't work at this temperature.   Doing anything in this environment is like being in another dimension, with different laws of physics and wierd effects on the body and mind.

I wear so many clothes and I am still cold.  Trying to go to the bathroom involves two belts, two buttons, two zippers.  I have to admit that I had a little confusion with the belts when I was trying to put all of the pants back on after.  I wear mittens under my gloves and sweaters under my jackets.

For all of it's cold though, Mongolia has a certain appeal.  The natives have developed a felt lined hut that is the epitome of cozy comfort.   Warm fires, excellent vodka, and inviting people make you feel more welcome and at home than many other areas of the world.  The introvert in me is in love with the appeal of a 9 month winter, where the environment encourages you to stay home with a fire and a good book.  The kind of place where the only people you see are the people for whom a trek through the cold is worthwhile, and when you see these people, the welcome is genuine and the feeling is contentment.

Tommorrow I am traveling to Turelj to see some geology and maybe visit some of the locals.  I am hoping to get a taste of the local vodka, made from mares milk and distilled in the homes of the nomads.  I'll take some pictures and share with you all.
jcwil77 says:
Great read about a place I always was curious to know more about. I don't think I ever want to go there, but this country has always seemed like the most remote place on earth to me.
Posted on: May 18, 2008
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photo by: Biedjee