Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
27Trip End Ongoing
We'd heard they've got a huge market here so off we went. The sun was really hot so it was hard to keep Nora and Sally walking the entire time but we made it eventually. I had to resort to my old trick of continually saying that it's just around the next corner... I'm sure it will be much harder to get them walking in future...
The internet and Odko kept reminding us to watch out for pickpockets so it made for a rather bad feeling. The market was indeed huge but it was also crowded which made me rather nervous.
It wasn't long before Sally called out to me to watch out and when I turned around there were about four blokes around me, one with a cloth draped over his hand - a technique I'd seen before. The cloth over one arm hides what's going on with the other hand. They backed off once I turned around. Something shifty was definitely going on. It all made me very nervous so I didn't want to hang around for much longer. And in any case, there seemed to be row after row of pretty much the same merchandise. No doubt there were some bargains to be had but you'd have to know where to look.
Now the long walk back. At least this time I could head past a few of the sites to make the walk in the relentless sun a bit more bearable. No doubt we'd stop at a few pubs as well.
The traffic here is just about the most chaotic I've ever seen. No-one sticks to a lane... most of the time they seem to be between lanes, they almost never indicate, certainly never to change lanes and if traffic's backed up they'll be continually changing lanes to push in up ahead...
At least my shoes are nice and shiny... well, were. No doubt they're now as dusty as they've always been.
Ah, the kvas barrel. This reminds me so much of Russia and Ukraine. The whole set-up is exactly the same too. Kvas is a very slightly alcoholic drink made from black bread I think...Very popular on hot days as it really is very refreshing.
The inevitable statue of Lenin... with me inevitably copying his pose...
More locals for the blog...
For those that are surprised that there is even internet in Mongolia... here's an example of some pretty modern architecture... not that it's finished yet, but it's certainly not all yurts.
The old and the new. Well, no doubt the statue isn't that old either. The square is Sukhbaatar Square, but I presume that's Genghis on the horse... though I could be wrong. Genghis is in fact everywhere. To say he's a national hero is an understatement - sounds weird but it's true. Oh, and the first G of Genghis is in fact pronounced like the G in Germany.
Unfortunately most of Ulaanbaatar was destroyed during the time of the communist revolution. Most of the older buildings are of the Stalinist type. Huge impressive buildings with great columns. But I rather like them as it certainly reminds you that you're a long way removed from Australia.
Over by the statue I spotted a westerner with a book in his hand... and this was no back-packer. I had a bit of a go at him with the usual comments about why he doesn't convert his own country first... the usual. And he had the usual answers.
When I'd finished with him Nora and Sally were a long way away in the distance... they knew what I'd be like with him. The giveaway must have been when I approached him with a loud ah, a bible-basher...
But Nora, to her credit, did say that they deserve what they get from people like me.
The view from Nora's hotel room of Odko's apartment building.
It really is so bloody hot here. Every day has been a scorcher. Even the evenings have been really warm. And poor Sally packed winter clothes for the supposedly cold desert nights...
All the beers are superb. Much, much better than Chinese beer. All are much stronger than Australian beers and the taste is much better than any Chinese beer.
I can't remember how many pubs we dropped into on the way back to the hotel... but I'm impressed that the girls are getting rather a liking for the beer.