MONGOLIA!! We had an absolutely amazing time in Mongolia. What a gorgeous country with such friendly people. It was so nice to get out of Beijing for a week and into Mongolia's beautiful countryside with lush green rolling hills, blue skies and the sun shining down on us!
We had a nice and short 2 hour flight from Beijing into Mongolia. When we arrived it was drizzling, but from the plane windows you could see the gorgeous rolling hills with nothing but space... so we were excited. A friend had told me that in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, almost every car works as a taxi... so I knew to expect that. Once at the airport we found one of these unofficial taxis and off we went to our hotel.
As we set off from the airport, my husband was in the front seat and our friend Kimberly and I sat in the back. Between the three of us, we knew absolutely ZERO words in Mongolian, so we were truly without a way to communicate with the driver. As we were riding along, we noticed the roads were crazy bumpy, oh, and that our driver was driving like a bat out of hell. Flying over bumps, getting into the lane of oncoming traffic, playing a game of chicken while I grasp the "oh shit" handles and fumble around for my non-existant seatbelt... Catholic school came rushing back to me as I crossed myself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! Please God let us survive this car ride!
Little did we know, we'd soon come to almost a complete stop - of course, that is until our BSC driver took things into her own hands and began some more opposite-lane-driving. Our hotel should have been a 15-20 minute drive away, as it is only 10 miles from the airport. Unfortunately, some traffic lights apparently weren't working which created utter chaos. I kid you not, it took us TWO HOURS to arrive at our hotel. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen, EVER!! I have never seen anything like this in Beijing. I wish we had an aerial shot - picture one intersection, 50 cars, each car clustered in the middle facing different directions - and 100s of cars lined up.
Its all part of the adventure, baby!
We spent the first day exploring the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. UB is a pretty undeveloped city, infrastructure is not so great, especially when considering its the capital of an entire country. One thing I noticed was that despite the fact that UB gets significantly less foreign visitors than a city like Beijing, they don't stare at me! In Beijing I get stared down almost daily, like they've never seen a foreigner (despite a large expat population). I would have thought staring would be even worse in UB - but I didn't notice any at all.
That's Ghengis Khaan sitting there in the middle (Chinggis Khaan)
The square in front of the government building
Not historically significant obviously, but one of the few modern buildings in UB, and very distinctive part of their "skyline."
Statue of Lenin in front of the UB Hotel (yes THAT Lenin!)
Our favorite day while in Mongolia was the day we took a tour into Terlj National Park. It was just my husband, me, and our friend, plus a guide and a driver. We controlled what we wanted to see. The natural scenery was so pretty, the sky was blue and the air was fresh and the sun was out!
This is getting pretty picture and text heavy, so I am going to stop here and make a new post for the rest of my Mongolian adventures! Stay tuned!
The best is definitely yet to come!