Ulaanbaatar again

After returning to Ullaanbaatar around midday and a short shower later, we headed into the city again. Regina gave us somed pointers to a Mongolian restaurant, a good cafe and a place to shop for souvenirs. We started with the later one. On the shopping list were T-shirts and of course some postcards. Afterwards we went for the restaurant, which seem to be quite modern, but served traditional dishes. The portions were quite big and that could’ve filled us for the rest of the day. But there is always room for dessert, so without delay, we headed for the cafe, which happened to be just across the street.

Helmut Sachers Kaffee, this seemed to be an obvious spot for German speaking tourists. We ordered some coffee, Sacher cake and relayed the greetings from Regina. Finally, after what seemed like ages surviving on instant caffeine sources, we had some good coffee again. Stuffed and content, we headed back to the hostel, getting some rest for the next day.

It was Wednesday and our last day in Ulaanbaatar. We walked to the southern part of the city, to visit the Zaisan memorial, which is basically a symbol of the Mongolian-Russian friendship. It even had reliefs of Lenin, Stalin and others. You just can’t escape those guys.

We went back to the hostel and arranged for a time to meet with Regina at the Sachers. Leaving most of our baggage and only carrying the essentials (not even a DSLR), we headed to the cafe. After catching up (quite fast, since we’ve seen each other the day before) and some pre-dinner dessert, the three of us – accompanied Brigitte, the owner of the cafe – headed for a hot pot restaurant. Thankfully Brigitte did the ordering, for we wouldn’t have known what to pick and how to tell the waiters what we wanted.

During dinner and later at Brigitte’s home we chatted quite a lot and heard many stories of Brigitte’s long and interesting life. And she doesn’t intend to settle down, which deserves even more respect. Her pets seemed to enjoy our presence, for there were more hands to stroke them. Especially her dog Bella seemed to have found a liking in us and was declared my new girlfriend by Brigitte. While Mongolia isn’t actually a country we need to visit again desperately, meeting the people here alone was more than worth the stop.

People usually get warned to walk through Ulaanbaatar at night, but we didn’t even see the hint of a problem.

As a side note, it was a bit more dangerous during daytime. On the first day I noticed some pickpockets at one plaza. A pair of two and a backup guy (probably to ensure their escape) a few feet behind them. But they were so obvious in their observations and following, that I assume they were in training. Another time when walking away from the main streets, I noticed a guy following us from a small busy market over a bridge. He was better at shadowing us, but at one point I turned around, shook my head and then he suddenly went conspicuously inconspicuously back. Also there was this friendly guy who approached me on the street, shaking my hand, pointing to my watch as if he wanted to know the time. Being the friendly guy I am, I showed him the time, but secured the watch with my other hand, keeping a firm grip. He insisted to see again, but we really had to go. He was cursing a bit when we walked away.

Another danger you have during the day and less during the nighttime is the traffic. Traffic rules are for pansies. Pedestrian crossing can be done any time and is actually safer during red light, for you can be sure that the cars are driving (during green light some stop, others don’t care). And a few centimeters between the pedestrian and the car are enough space to ensure the safety of the pedestrian and the auto body. This was all so familiar, since on a lower level, it was the same in Russia. But we already knew from past experiences, that the matter of road insecurity will be a tough contest with Beijing.

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