It was only two and a half days in Mongolia, but it was quite an impressive stop. Ulan Bator (UB) is a mix out of modern city (main city square, parliament and surrounding buildings), run down communist buildings (2nd circle of the city) and shanty town (where we stayed, yes I’m cheap ). Apart from the novelty, I can’t quite find it interesting as a town. It’s was missing the “big city” feeling. We did sleep in a ten in the middle of the city at Gana’s Guest House, which was really cool. I mean a tent in the middle of the capital, that’s nifty …
The second day we got ourselves on a road trip into the nomadic part of Mongolia (which is everything outside of UB) with bunch of backpackers from the hostels. I learned two things right away. The French and the Germans love Mongolia. Our road trip was with a bunch of German students and a couple from France. Most of the hostel was actually German, including an old lady who has come to Mongolia for years (and had some interesting knowledge about literature). Germans love it here, because everybody speaks German (due to the virtue of having studied in the communist brotherland DDR). And I mean fluently and everything.
The road trip was a bit weirdly organized. They first shipped us to Hotel Mongolia, a resort hotel build by a German apparently. It looked cool, trying to imitate an ancient Mongolian capital of the Khan era. But it was still a touristic re-imagination, not historic. Afterwards they drove us far into the country side which was cool, because there were no streets once were of the main road. They would just drive the jeeps randomly though the countryside forming new ways. I guess that’s the nomadic culture. After a brief stop at an abandoned Russian military base (I was ask if I heard about communism and the end of the USSR – they must have though I was American. ), we got to a family living in a Ger serving us Mongolian food. The food in general consist mostly of milk and lamb, which is a nice contrast to China. We got butter, cheese, lamb in milk tea soup and fried noodles with lamb.
The Mongolian countryside was absolutely stunning, a combination of hills and flat land with few trees. I wish we would have stayed the whole time outside of UB, maybe sleeping in a tent, but we didn’t know better. We ate multiple other combinations of milk and lamb in Ulan Bator the following day, plus a museums and scaring of pick pockets (almost got me once). And then we were already on our way to Russia.