Tag Archives: Ulaanbaatar

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.


After arriving in Ulaanbaatar, our first stop was a bank. We needed some local currency, some Tugrik. After accessing the ATM I was confronted with a few possibilities regarding the amount. Not knowing (as in badly prepared) what the Tugrik was worth, I settled for a medium option: 10,000 Tugrik. Right after that I found an open Wifi at the bank. It appears I have withdrawn the equivalent of 4 Euros. Oh kay, lemme try that again. Meanwhile Steffen’s guess was better, he just needed more than one run to get his desired amount.

Our hostel, the LG Guesthouse, wasn’t far away. On the way there we met a fellow traveler who just needed a room for the night. While he had some reservation at another hostel, he wanted to check out ours and decided to stay afterwards. So we probably had booked some decent enough accommodation. A shower later in the dorm bathroom the world looked better and the dirty train was part of history. Shortly after that we even got our own room, which was quite nice, aside from the fact that the main road was right within sight and hearing range. But we were aware of that before and accepted it because it was close to the train station.

Later we headed out for our first walk around the city, which of course included some geocaching. Our first impression of the city was that it is quite dirty. But after walking around a bit more, another thing became obvious. It’s not so much that the city is dirty, it is just one huge construction site. Seriously, they are working everywhere. Some sites are under active construction, some seem prepared but not started, some seem to have stopped before finishing and others seem to be finished but still have building materials lying around. In between are building that are not under construction, but should be. I’m sure half of the population consists of construction workers.

On this first day we were able to visit most of the important tourist sites, including the Chinggis Khan Square with the statues of Chinggis Khan and Sukhbaatar, the construction site of the Mongolian Circus and a few smaller statues or memorials dedicated to a children song, Marco Polo or the Beatles. We didn’t visit any museums, but stopped for dinner in the “Broadway”, where the serve westernized Mongolian food. This isn’t the most touristic city we’ve been in.

Another thing you see at all places are Gers (Mongolian yurts, the word means “home”), even if they are just symbolic like the one made of flowers at the Chinggis Khan Square. So obviously, even though we are in the metropolis of Mongolia, their nomadic roots are still present there today. As we noticed during the next days, this even goes so far, that people have their own parcel of land with a fence and everything somewhere in the city, but live in a Ger there. Regina (see next post) even has been in a Ger like this, that had a full bathroom… but no running water.

[Images will have to follow, because the internet (or at least our connections) in Mongolia and China sucks!]