You´d be in UB too

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Thursday, June 23, 2005

So after my miscalulation of required Mongol time I had four days to spend in UB. What would I do. I toyed with the idea of going hiking in one of the surrounding hills one day, but the Guest House owner recommended against this. I didnīt follow this up due to being a bit lazy. In the end I had a superb time hanging around UB, itīs actually a very cool city. You need to scratch under the surface a little and not take it at face value, but there are loads to do. I had my first Korean meal and I donīt know why it took me so long, Iīll be having more of them in the future. I visited many of the museums and art galleries around, especially on the day where the rain came tumbling down from a great height. Actually, back to the food, UB has the most amazing selection of restaurants. They are expensive by Mongolian terms but at 3 or 4 pounds (This keyboard doesnīt have a pound sign, Boooo) it was a snip, this would include a beer or two as well. I also spent a bit of time at the Khan Brau House. Which is a German style pub which brews its own tasty beer, it also attracts a large number of Mongolians, rather than just the tourists which gives it a much better atmosphere in my book. I even went to a pub quiz one night, at īDaveīs Placeī, now this one was an expats place through and through. Maikhoi was in Mongolia doing some volunteering work and we bumped into some of people there that sheīd worked with. I spent a while talking to many of these expats and learned a great deal about what itīd be like to survive a Mongolian winter. Despite the fact that the temparature regularly drops below minus 20 the weatherīs not too bad since itīs also accompanied by lovely blue skies. Back to Daveīs Place, it was nice to see this part of life in UB, but to be honest I didnīt have any real desire to head back there again. And we were only fifth in the pub quiz, so, pah, you can keep your questions.

As well as enjoying the nightlife in UB, there is also a fair amount to see during the day. Four days is almost certainally enough for this. The Winter Palace of Bogd Khan was ok, perhaps bordring on the disappointing. Zanabazarīs fine arts museum was pretty good, especially Sharavīs īAirag Feastī which depicted a scene where many mongolians where drinking Airag (Fermented Mareīs (Woman Horse) Milk), it had some interesting little extras if you looked carefully enough. The museum of Mongolian history was also good, including an armoured tunic from the days of Chingis Khan (The Mongolian way to spell Ghengis Khan).

On my last day in UB there was a parade in the main square to honour the new president thatīd just been elected. There was a great deal of pomp and circumstance as soldiers marched around with their bands. There was also a lot of standing around in the blazing sun waiting for things to happen. I had to give up in the end, retreating to the coolness and shade of my Guest House.

One of the things that I enjoyed most happened by complete chance. I was walking through this quiet park just off the main square. I came across this fountain where loads of people where hanging around, so I decided to just hang around there with them. I was minding my own business when this Mongolian guy came and sat next to me, he had a plaster (Thatīs a band aid for our American cousins) over his right eye, he stunk a bit and even though it was barely past midday, he was a little bit tipsey. He started saying some stuff to me which I obviously didnīt understand as he only spoke Mongilan. After a little while he changed track and started saying words that I did understand, Kasparov, Karpov, Tahl. This is when I worked out he wanted to play me at Chess. He was also very keen to let me know that Tahl was his favourite player. After the disappointment of the quality of Chess on the Train in Russia I was hoping for a bit stiffer competition here, especially when I realised that loads of people were hanging around playing chess. So we went over to his board with a hotch potch of pieces and started playing. He started off with a Kingīs Gambit which I accepted and away we were, for those that may be a little concerned here I was never going to try and hold onto my advanced f pawn. This guy was good and it didnīt take long before he had a small material advantage over me. To cut a long story short he beat me, we swapped colours again and away we went. It was at this point his chatty friend started saying, one dollar one dollar, to which I replied, no dollar no dollar. This game continued on like the last except I got myself into an even rook and pawn ending. His opening theory was good, and he knew his end games well also, he beat me again. This is when his friend started saying two dollar two dollar. Mmmm, I was playing for cash. I thought Iīd have one last crack at this guy. As we started the third game this Mongolian asked me where I was from, It turned out that he was an English teacher here. He talked to the guys that I was playing (can I say now that there were four of them all talking Mongolian to each other while they played, and I was on my own) and he confirmed that each game was for 1000 Togrog each, basically a dollar. I told him that Iīd said to them that it was īno dollar no dollarī and that the main road was just 10 meters away. He said, ībe careful, these are bad men and you know theyīre drunk (insert question mark here as this keyboard doesnīt have one)ī. Right, Iīm going to have you this time, itīs time to get a bit of pride back for Scottish Chess. I got into another rook and pawn ending, except my rook was far more active and I had an advanced pawn that was defended by my king. It was looking good. It always does before the fan is hit. I tried to force an exchange of rooks, which he took (question mark) Then I saw why. He was able to force a pawn through my rather poorly setup pawn structure and promote it at least 3 moves before I could get mine up to the golden 8th rank. I lost again with a scowl on my face. Even though they were sort of trying to force money out of me, I think I could have got away without paying, but I gave hime a little more than the 3 dollars that he was asking for. He was an excellent chess player and I didnīt begrudge giving him more cash then he asked for, it was far better than him just sitting around street corners begging for money. I asked him if I could take his photo, he was so chuffed that I did this that he put his sun glasses on and stood as straight as he could to look his best. Iīll need to get a photo of him on this website as soon as I get my photos sorted, Iīll entitle it the Champion of Mongolia, which he was (so he said!).

Iīve had a wicked time in Mongolia and was really sad to be leaving. Not only that but Iīm fearing what China may have in store. Iīve heard some horrific toilet stories from there, weīll see, and Iīll let you know how I get on. Thanks for reading to the end, and Iīm sorry if I bored all you non chess playing people out there.

Mongol Ron.
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