Returning from our trip (see: 2 day trip in Mongolia ), we reached Ulan-bataararound 4pm but since the gobi hostel was fully booked we had to find another hostel. We decided to meet with the swiss for dinner in the evening and went on our way to the new hostel.
The new hostel was called Lotus and was run by orphans which is really an appealing fact about this place and something great to support. When we got our room it was shared with a bunch of australians and the next room was with a whole bunch of volounteers from Edinburgh.
Sidenote: The reason for the volounteers is that Ulan-bataar is one of the most polluted towns in the world – even more than beijing. Especially in the winter. It has 6 power plants inside city limits which produce alot of pollution as well as traffic. Furthermore, since the winters can be extremely cold, a large part of the nomads move to the city in the winther but when they move away they simply burn everything they leave. This also pollutes. Finally, as the capital is also the coldest capital in the world (because of the insane cold in the winter and nights), the cold works as a dome around the city, pushing the pollution “down” so to speak. This means that you can’t see more than 3-4 meters in front of you and even inside houses you can see the blurry effect that comes from pollution.
Well, anyway. The australians seemed merry and we shared a few shots of vodka and decided to meet up at a microbrewery in UB (ulan-bataar) later in the evening but first we went out to meet the swiss.
We met with the swiss and went for mongolian grill. An all you can eat for about 10 EUR each. This involved a very large buffet with 5 kinds of meat: sheep, goat, horse, beef and chicken. You took your raw meat (and salads) to a central grill where the chef would then cook it for you. Very very delicious. They also did a show where the chef threw around his knives and there was music and a light show and things like that. Much like the japanese Teppanyaki.
In the evening we went to the microbrewery where amongst others I talked to a mongolian couchsurfer host and a canadian journalist. After the brewery, the party continued at the hostel (I had stopped drinking though) which included hair-cutting, story telling from our travels as well as fairytale storytelling by a dutch woman (Nadine) that had the sweetest mix of dialect coming from her original dutch accent mixed with australian. She was a special kids teacher so I guess having a nice calming voice really comes in handy.
We also met: Garreth, a hilarious type that had to catch a plane the next day towards new adventures. Jonathan the canadian journalist who never once during his travels in russia said he was a journalist. Harry who left us a very nice note, was generally pleasing to be around, and michael and emily an engaged couple travelling on to russia who were also very sweet. Evenings and people like these are why travelling is amazing!
The next day (wednesday) we were going to relax as we had to catch the plane next morning at 7 and real work (monday) suddenly wasn’t so far away anymore. We saw a monument raised by the russians, celebrating the soviet union and the black market (not because it was actually stolen goods – the name was literally “the black market”), a huuuge market in ulan-bataar which sold everything. Everything.
View from the soviet monument
Below is a picture from the black market in the “stoves department”. Every single ger had stoves like this inside:
As usual, we took the public transportation:
Finally, for the danes out there. This is probably funny to you!
After we got home, it was late. We had some korean food and went to bed.
The next morning at 3:50 am we got up and took the taxi to the Ulan-bataar airport. As a last reminder of how mongolia is much different from denmark, the taxi driver drove with the high beams on for the full trip (and yes the normal lights worked), flashed her lights in anger maybe 10 times, drove in the wrong side of the road while fiddling with the radio (she was honked at because she was driving straight towards another car) and finally ran two red lights in a mere 20 minutes.
26 hours later (midnight, danish time) we arrived home. Tired. Very tired.
This marked the end of one of the most adventurous trips I’ve ever embarked on – going from Copenhagen to Ulan-bataar by land. 3 weeks of extreme experiences crammed into so little time! One week of this kind of travel would be enough for a full vacation but we had 3. I’m ready to go back to work now but only to recharge until I’m ready to leave again!