Trans Siberian experience. In Siberia. We continue now. Well we had an all day city tour yesterday Tuesday 25 September, but we did not return to hotel till after 9 so just getting going now. New tour guide for us her name was Chimge. Not similarity to first guide name but one less «е» and pronounced different.
Boy, foreign language not my strong suit. The tour started at 10 at our hotel. We are assaying at the White House Hotel, an older building but the rooms are large and modern. Probably the largest room to date. We meet the guide and a small bus is outside. We will be sharing the tour with two other couples until noon. And of course our friends Linda and John.
The group of four arrived on the train from Beijing yesterday and are doing a shortened tour, while catching the noon train north to Irkutsk.
Ulaanbaatar is an interesting if not a real pleasant city. There is significant construction of buildings due primarily to the mining and mineral boom presently underway. The basic problem
involves an apparent total lack of planning for the infrastructure to deal with the commerce. Busses are everywhere but the traffic is so choked you literally can not move. It took over 30 minutes to go about a mile. One tour group in a van in front of us
got out and apparently walked to their destination. Horns honk incessantly. Drivers cut in, change lanes, cross intersections with literally an inch of clearance. We saw no signs of any bypass road construction or anything remotely approaching an interstate.
During our tour we went to the National Museum a large Buddhist monestary. We were there in time to hear the monks chanting and visited inside several of the buildings. The Buddhists obviously play a significant role in he country.
We also visited lots of memorials, another name for statues, commemorating famous people in their history. They have gone through so many forms of governing in the last few hundred years it is hard to keep track. Their last change was in 1989-90 when they became independent from the Soviets.
We also confirmed that the public education system is quite interesting. While out in the country ( Mongolian for not Ulaanbaatar ) the kids go to school in the nearest province headquarters. They leave on Sunday evening and return home friday night. During the week they live in dorms at the school. They attend school between 10-11 years.
At lunch time the four of us were dropped off at the hotel while the others were taken to he train station. We did learn Our guide and driver returned at 2:00 and we continued the tour, more monuments and it was obvious we were running out of things to see. We
went to a few stores for souvenir shopping and finally headed of to a small performance center where we are scheduled to see some native Mongolian folk dancing and music.
The show started at 6:00 and went for over an hour. Very professional and quite interesting. Definitely the highlight of the day.
Next was dinner at a Mongolian Restaurant called of all things BD’s Detroit Mongolian barbecue. Actually a fun but loud place but food was good. Temp was low 50’s today and expected colder tonight.
My impression: not a city I have much desire
to see again.
It certainly needs some strong leadership to get it together. If something is not done it seems it will choke economically. There is a lot of trash along the roads and the side walks are blocked with parked cars or ripped up waiting for reconstruction.
Wed 26 Sep
Temp this morning 32 and a little light snow. A down day with not much to do. We changed all our Mongolian money into Chinese for
On our walk it started to rain so we packed in and back to hotel to get ready to leave tomorrow. The banks are so busy here you need to take a number like the deli at Stop and Shop. We have about $12 in local money but credit cards widely accepted here. We will be OK.
It stopped raining so we decide to walk around in a direction we had not been. Came across a neat little bakery and picked up a couple of pastries with some of our last Mongolian money, head back to hotel Pub
where there is clearly an American influence because the background music includes Celine Dion «All By Myself» and clearly a long time ago
Karen Carpenter «Superstar». We enjoy a few beers with our friend John, have supper, say good by to our waitress for the past few days,
Tomma and head to the room to pack up.
We will be off for Beijing tomorrow.