In this chapter I will write a little more about the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. We spent here about one week.
Ulaanbaatar is the most populated city in Mongolia, nearly half of the population lives there. It is also a place where all important institutions, industry and most of the biggest companies are located.
First days in UB (that’s how Mongols call it) we spent by visiting sightseeing. We saw some interesting sights in the city center. On the very first night we met an UN volunteer who took us to the most dominant landmark of the city – the Sky Tower.
Worth mentioning is the main square with the house of government (just in front of the sky tower). There are also numerous museums and temples to visit. We did not manage to see them all because we were just getting used to the conditions and atmosphere. And in general, I am not a big fan of exploring cities rather than the people and the natural beauties.
We had one “business” to take care of in UB and that was to obtain the Chinese Visa for Diana as it was much easier than in her home country (Romania). Unfortunately, we had to wait a few days because the embassy was closed due to a national holiday. But in the end we managed to apply for the visa and we could focus on exploring the nearby Terelj.
Our second stay in UB (after the Terelj experience) was much more pleasant. This was mostly because of our new friends we made there. We got in touch with them and they took us to a monument of the Communistic era. It was a huge monument on the hill above UB from where we could see the entire city. Another day they took us back to the beginning of the Terelj National park to show us the Genghis khan statue. The statue itself was amazing and in the base of it was a museum of history. Also it was a place where we also tried one of Mongolians favorite sports – archery.
Back in UB we spent most of the time with them, they also invited us to their homes. We ate and slept at their houses and got to understand a few their lives. They tried to keep us entertained all the time. We played cards, billiard and table tennis.
For me the most amazing experience was the session with a shaman. People in Mongolia mostly believe in Buddhism, but younger generations are aiming their beliefs back to the era before that – the animalism and shamanism. We were lucky enough to be able to attend one of these sessions. Basically, the role of the shaman is to give advice to the people. We saw some people from the neighborhood coming and asking for advice in their lives. In the end of the session I was also invited to speak with the shaman and the atmosphere and the experience itself was just astonishing.
After this experience I decided to tattoo my leg. It is very nice and for 75 USD it was definitely worth it.
After picking up Diana’s passport and getting together with our friends, we headed to the Khogsvol Lake area, but about that in another chapter.
On our last stay in UB we did nothing special. Basically, we just prepared for the next step in our traveling – exploration of China.