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Ulaanbaatar Sightseeing

MONGOLIA | Friday, 21 December 2007 | Views [1613] | Comments [6]

I've spent the last couple of days walking around UB checking out some of the sights. Yesterday morning I walked up to the Gandantegchenling Monastery and I knew it was cold when I had to scrape the ice of my moustache! The Gandan complex consists of several temples but it was the beautiful Migjed Janraisig that blew me away. I bumped into a couple of people I met on the train, Reece and Claire, and listened in on their guided tour. This temple holds a colossal 26.5m Janraisig statue that is gilded in gold - it hurt the neck looking up at it. Its surrounded by hundreds of small golden statues in glass display cases and there was some familiar music playing in the background. Buddhist songs compiled by Lama Gyurme which I actually have a CD of back home! I couldn't stop the tears welling in my eyes as the emotions took over, but I didn't want icicles forming on my cheeks! We walked around for a few minutes in this stunning place, and I bought a couple of small items from a hawker outside. I'm not one for buying trashy souvenirs for the sake of it but these were special, and unlike Chinese hawkers who are pushy and obstinate, this guy was gentle and polite so I paid what he asked.

I realised my toes were about to snap off so I went back and donned some more clothes before going on.  I stopped in at the Fine Art Museum which was an interesting mix of modern and ancient art. Some of the works dated back to bronze age ~2000BC! All of it was absolutely exquisite.

After a nice lunch of fried mutton and potatoes, I visited the Natural History Museum which had plenty of stuffed animals on display, not really my thing, but it holds the best dinosaur fossils I've ever seen. This part of the world is an archaeologists mecca and the massive skeletons of the big lizards were pretty awesome.

By now, my goal of riding some Mongolian horses looked like it wouldn't happen - a bit disappointing but it was never pre-arranged and I couldn't make it happen on the spur of the moment.  I walked around town a bit more but hid from the crazy traffic back at the hotel until later on when I enjoyed some nice pizza at a place called Marco Polo's.  It seems UB has every nationality covered in the food stakes and its all so cheap!!

This morning I took a taxi up to another famous place called the Boghd Khaan Winter Palace. It was a bit of a worry when the cabbie had to ask directions from a passrby after taking me to the wrong place! Anyway, this was another example of beautiful Mongolian architecture where the Boghd Khaan lived for 20 years in the early 20th century. I was alone there (which has been common at most of the sights I've been this time of year) so enjoyed the old buildings, which are in bad need of a spruce up, and the museum displays. I thought I saw a few flakes of snow falling, but there was enough on the ground to have a play with. A bit overrated, the cold white stuff, but it added a beautiful ambience to the old palace :)

After heading back into town, I stopped to get supplies for the next leg of the train trip to Irkutsk in Russia. There's no dining cart on this leg which will take a couple of days. I've read the border crossing into Russia could take up to 11 hours!! I don't know why, maybe the cold has reduced their metabolism to that of one of those big lizards, hehe. I'm looking forward to the change of scenery, and hopefully less dirt and smog, and I may even meet up again with some of the vodka train gang.

Choo choooo, all abooaarrd! ....

Tags: Sightseeing



hehe...sounds like fun matt...especially the pizza in mongolia...how strange...lol..yayyyyyy...u saw snow...lol

  chris Dec 21, 2007 7:24 PM


Hey Matt, we are all hanging out for your updates, your aunties, cousins and all!!
Sounds like sensory overload plus coooooold.
Do you have enough clothes to keep you warm? (Mother's talk, buy some if you need to.
Don't count on less dirt and smog in Russia, I'd be surprised if it's any cleaner there.
It's hotting up back here, going for 37 on Xmas day. Enjoy yourself, love Mum

  Mum Dec 21, 2007 8:42 PM


Matt, your journal is fantastic! Since we've woken up to it, we check it several times a day. Now dad asks me to print it for him and he disappears with it into the bedroom, where he savours every sentence in solitude...I thought that the novelty of the snow and temperatures below 0 will wear out rather quickly. One positive side of it is that the tourist numbers are low, therefore you can almost have all the beauty and strangeness to yourself!
Russia will be very interesting. This is a place of great contrasts and it takes a lifetime to barely understand it. The place is enormous in it's beauty and ugliness. Great culture, very interesting people, deep spirituality... Can be also very scary and intense. I know stories from people who were imprisoned in Siberia. The survivors couldn't get over its cruel beauty. Danka

  Danka Dec 22, 2007 12:07 AM


I hope you havent forgot what we talked about,

( One in each country ) :)

   Leeroy Dec 22, 2007 12:45 AM


Hey Matt, It's Anna from Coffs Harbour. WOW !! what an amazing adventure, you wright so well, I feel I'm right next to you travelling along, experiencing the sights,sounds and smells, Ummm only the temperature is a little low. I felt the same emotional tears last year while sitting on Santorini sipping ouzo......looking forward to more highlights and news. Take care! Enjoy! MERRY CHRISTMAS Best wishes Anna xo

  Anna Busch Dec 22, 2007 3:26 PM


sorry thats write not wright..lol

  anna Dec 22, 2007 4:22 PM

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