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The Stunning Adventures "Not all those who wander are lost." Tolkien

Ulaan Baatar

MONGOLIA | Saturday, 4 August 2007 | Views [2047] | Comments [1]



After Bayanzag, we only had one more night in the Gobi before heading back to Ulaan Baatar.  We were all quite excited to be out of the van, take showers, and get something good to eat.  Upon arriving in Ulaan Baatar, the temperature was just a few degrees less than the sun.  It had been really hot in the Gobi, but UB was experiencing an unusually hot spell.  We all checked into our respective guesthouses and were not much good for anything besides dinner and bed.  We just took it easy over the next couple of days, getting caught up on the internet and relaxing.  The 29th marked our 7th anniversary, yay!!! We did our best to find a good restaurant, and we celebrated in our usual style with wine, appetizers, and a nice meal.  It was really nice, and it had been a long time since we had done anything like that. 


It wasn't until after our anniversary that we actually started pounding the pavement to see Mongolia's capital.  There were quite a few temples in UB, and the rest of Mongolia for that matter, but many were destroyed during the communist purges of the late 1930's.  Because Buddhism played such an important role in the shaping of the country, and subsequently was so punished, we felt it important to see what had been spared.  At one temple, Gandan, we saw a very large standing Buddha (26m) that was a re-creation of one that had been destroyed in the country's turbulent past.  At another temple, we saw some fantastic tsams, decorative ritual masks used during Buddhist ceremonies.  These particularly intrigued us, and we had to purchase a replica for our growing mask collection.  We were also able to see many bronze statues made by a very influential artist, ZanabaazarAfter the temples, we started to delve into some of the museums, that UB does not lack in, at all. 


Our first museum was the Mongolian Natural History Museum. Among many odd stuffed animals and native plants and rocks, the museum boasts some really impressive Dinosaur fossils.  The fossils were the clear highlight for us at the museum.  Greg was able to see the fossilized remains of his childhood favorite, the anklyosaurus.  The skeleton was mostly intact and quite a treat.  Elizabeth was really impressed with a pair of fossilized arms that were mounted on the wall.  The arms were mounted at the height that they would have been, if the whole body had been available.  They stood some 15 feet off the ground and were a good 8 feet long.  To imagine the dinosaur that they belonged to is quite scary.  There were many other impressive fossils, including a protoceratops and velociraptor that both died while tangled in a battle that took both of their lives.  The next museum we visited was The Victims of Political Persecution Museum.  This museum resides in the former home of P. Genden, a former head of state that was executed in Moscow in 1937 for refusing to carry out Stalin's orders to slaughter those considered to be counter-revolutionary.  It was very informative, but incredibly sad.  So many of those that were killed were monks, writers, artists, and other free-thinkers.  On a much lighter note, we finished our museum tour with the Zanabaazar Museum of Fine Art.  This museum is named after the same man spoken of earlier, and contains not only some of his work, but also many other pieces from other Mongolian artists. 


Ulaan Baatar is quite a unique city.  It is the largest in Mongolia and greatly overshadows all other cities in the country, but is just a town when compared to other Capital's we have visited.  The golden arches (or the traveler's crutch), KFC, and other fast food chains haven't even made it here; despite their virus-like way of spreading.  They have one department store, and it's called "State Department Store".  We experienced quite a few power outages and stoppages of the community hot water supply.  The government does not have a lot of money, leaving many roads and buildings in disrepair.  Poverty among the people is also a big problem, with many children begging or selling small trinkets to make ends meet.  The unemployment rate is somewhere above 30%.  Despite some of these terrible states the country finds itself in, so many of the people don inexhaustible smiles and we have rarely met people with such a spirit of ingenuity. 

Tags: Culture



Goyo shuu Mongolchuudaa

  Erka Jan 9, 2009 8:21 AM

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