by Paul Bacon
Rotherham, United Kingdom
April 4, 2006
The Square is in itself quite spectacular. It is the size of two football fields and is far bigger than say Times Sqaure in New York or Trafalgar Square in London. At one end is the Mongolian Parliament, known as the Grand Khural and around the edges are some of the biggest and grandest buildings in all of Mongolia, such as the national theater and opera house. It is also possible to look out from the square towards the Bogd Khan mountain range, which rings the city and to admire the stunning snow capped mountains.
At the center is an emphatic statue of the hero atop a horse rearing back as though into battle. In short the square is quite impressive and a very pleasant place to stroll and take a pleasant view of Ulaan Baatar.
In summer I can remember few things I enjoyed more than strolling across and enjoying the view as the sun shone against the statue at the center. The problems came in winter. As nice as it would have been to amble around and enjoy the scenery, doing so could actually prove fatal. Not only is Mongolia cold (hitting -40ºF some days), but it is also windy making getting into an unsheltered space particularly unpalatable. I remember one day when my friends and I had a moment of lunacy and decided to take pictures of each other next to the statue. For mine I removed my hat for the few brief seconds it took to snap the shot. By the time I had put it back on my ears were purple and seemed bereft of feeling. Similarly as I took of my gloves to snap my friend Mitch my fingers quickly began to sting as the wind bit into my flesh. It took us 2 hours in a warm restaurant to revert the damage. Thankfully it took us far less time to learn that the square was best experienced on a warm summer evening.
From journal City to Steppe in Mongolia