Mongolia Part 1 – Ulaanbaatar

Day 169: August 28, 2018

We woke up late and then had to get dressed to go get groceries. After getting into our Airbnb in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia late the previous night we didn’t have time for anything other than sleep. The State Department Store was just around the corner from our Airbnb and had a grocery stored located on the first floor with everything we needed. We bought way too much food, likely because we were hungry. It was very heavy and we were glad we didn’t have far to walk.

Back at our Airbnb, I cleaned the fridge because it was quite dirty. I always feel gross when a place isn’t sparkling. Just knowing that someone else’s dirt is there makes me feel uncomfortable.

We had cereal for breakfast and then hung out for a bit. Danny had found a free walking tour online that started at 2:00 pm. He emailed about it, but we hadn’t heard back. We thought we would go and see if it was still happening. If not, we could just do our own thing.

At 2:05 pm in front of the National Museum of Mongolian History, we decided no one was coming for the walking tour. Instead, we went inside the museum. It gave the whole history of Mongolia starting right from the origins of man. I very much enjoyed all of the clothing of the different tribes of Mongolia.

Traditional clothing of the Buryad people

After the museum we walked to Sukhbaatar Square where there was a large statue of Genghis Khan (referred to in Mongolia as Chinggis Khaan). Much to Danny’s disappointment, the statue was hidden behind scaffolding.

Sukhbaatar Square

We took some pictures then walked back to our Airbnb. Danny made plans for our free days in Mongolia before our nomadic trip with GAdventures. I did some blogging. Danny made pasta for supper and we watched some videos on Mongolia before bed.

Day 170: August 29, 2018

We slept in then Danny made breakfast. He went for a walk to check out a rental car company called Driving Mongolia we read about in the Lonely Planet: Mongolia guide.

Caitlin messaged me to ask what I was doing and her and Kaleen ended up FaceTiming me. They told me about our 10 year high school reunion that I missed back home. It is crazy that we’ve been out of high school that long already. I still feel too young, but when I think back to myself at 18 I know I’m more mature than that.

I ate lunch while Danny talked to his parents. After he told me about the car rental place. It was a bit more heavy duty than we needed and much too expensive. Instead he booked a 4×4 with Sixt, a European car rental company. The cost is still more than we were anticipating. He also booked some ger camps for us to stay in over the next couple of days. The prices of them were also much more than we planned.

I decided to take some alone time and go for a walk. I went to Beatles Square where a monument was put to commemorate groups of teens that would gather to sing Beatles songs in the 1970s which they smuggled in from Eastern Europe. There were a bunch of white tents set up with back to school supplies for sale.

Beatles Square

After I headed to the State Department Store. I tried on some clothes and actually liked the style. The clothes were not as cheap as I was expecting. They were similar to European prices maybe because the clothes are all imported. I also went and purchased us a SIM card for our time in Mongolia. At the first floor I picked up some items at the grocery store we had forgotten.

When I returned to the apartment Danny and I talked a bit about our plans for October to December. We haven’t even decided yet to which countries we should go. We had left it open on purpose in case we decided we wanted to go home. There are some days when we do just want to say, “Screw it, we’re going home”. At this point though, I think we’ve decided we want to continue or we would regret it in the future.

Day 171: August 30, 2018

I had an awful sleep; I woke up at 2:00 am restless so I watched some HGTV until 5:00 am. I still wasn’t tired, but decided I should try sleeping. Between my restlessness and mosquitoes buzzing in my ears, I still didn’t sleep well.

I woke up 15 minutes before my 9:00 am FaceTime call with Kaleen. We chatted for a bit then I had lunch and baked muffins while Danny went shopping. I did some research on Myanmar to determine a rough plan.

When Danny returned, we went for a walk to Gandantegchinlen Monastery where over 150 monks currently live. We walked around the buildings which didn’t seem like anything special. We decided to enter one of the temples, Megiddo Janraisig Datsun, and there was a 26.5 m high copper statue gilded with gold. What a surprise! We walked around the temple, spinning the prayer wheels then backed out.

Statue of Avalokiteśvara

We walked through the yard of the monastery. There was a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in the flowers.

Shakyamuni Buddha

On our way back to our apartment we stopped at a market with tons of little shops of mostly clothing. Back on the street we weren’t sure which direction we needed to go. I was getting frustrated with the cars and honking. We ended up walking past a theatre and decided to start my birthday early by going to a movie. The only one I faintly wanted to see was “Christopher Robin”. It was in English with Mongolian subtitles. I actually really enjoyed the film.

After we walked back to the apartment where I made chicken, zucchini and tomatoes for supper. We watched a movie on Netflix that apparently is, “all the rage”. Then we got ready for bed.

Day 172: August 31, 2018

Today is my birthday! I woke up and ate breakfast while FaceTiming Caitlin. After Danny brought out a honey cake with a little bee on it. He got me a book and a nice pair of wool socks for my birthday.

Birthday presents

We did some planning for our Southeast Asia portion of our trip. We planned the route, researched some tours, budgeted out flights and started booking.

Around 3:30 pm we walked across town in the rain, through a closed amusement park to a bowling alley. When we went down to try to get a lane, there seemed to be none free. I may have been a bit upset about this. My birthday just didn’t seem to be going how I imagined.

Amusement park on the way to the bowling alley

We walked back towards our apartment and it really started to rain. Across the street from our apartment, we stopped for supper at an Indian food restaurant. We thought we would get enough Mongolian cuisine on our excursions. We ordered a basket of naan which ended up being an insane amount. The food was pretty good.

When we returned I called my parents to tell them about Ulaanbaatar and our plans for Southeast Asia. Then we went to bed.

Our time in Ulaanbaatar has been pleasant. We were happy to have our own space and be able to cook our own meals for a bit. The city life is starting to wear on us and we are looking forward to getting into the Mongolian countryside for a bit. Danny has planned for us to spent two nights in Hustai National Park, west of Ulaanbaatar and then three nights in a ger camp, east of Ulaanbaatar. Then we return to Ulaanbaatar for another couple of relaxing days before our nomadic trip with GAdventures that we are very much anticipating.

M

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