Ulaan Bataar Journals

City to Steppe in Mongolia

A May 2004 trip to Ulaan Bataar by Paul Bacon

Travel Photo by IgoUgo memberMore Photos
Quote: In the winter of 2004, I spent four months working as a journalist in Ulaan Baatar. Here is what I saw and what I thought. These extraxtcs are based around my book 'Esaping the Ice-Prison' available at www.lulu.com/pauldbacon or www.ebookad.com

City to Steppe in Mongolia

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Overview

Quote:
If you can deal with temperatures that drop as far as 40 degrees below 0, Ulaan Baatar is a pretty cool city. Here are some of my favourite parts. ·Standing at the top of the Zaisan memorial, looking across the snow-covered city ·Having a beer at Steppe Inn, the pub on the grounds of the British Embassy ·Playing with some of the homeless kids who live in the city streets ·Watching the Mongolian rock band Kharanga in concert As fun as UB is, it is perhaps best used as a base to explore the vast expanse of Mongolian countryside, where are there are some truly awesome things to do, such as ·Hiking across the sands of the Gobi ·Walking out onto the frozen water...Read More

Marco Polo

Restaurant

Quote:
Marco Polo is something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde establishment. During the day, it operates as an Italian restaurant, serving a wide variety of pasta dishes and pizzas. The decor is pretty lush, with wood panelling, dark stone flooring, and thick couches in which to relax. The food is good - even if at times a little overdone - and is definitely an appealing alternative to the barrage of stodge that makes up Mongolian cuisine. At night, though, things at the Polo take a dramatic twist. Sometime around 11pm, the restaurant, which is on the ground floor, closes, and the upper floor is opened for business. The section upstairs serves as Mongolia's biggest an...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 20, 2005

Marco Polo
Natsagdorj Gudamj
Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Tse Bars

Attraction | "Tse"

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Tse is a chain of bars that appear all over Ulaan Bataar. They are easily recognised by their bright yellow and blue signs. The decor is generally very basic, with just a small bar and several sets of tables and chairs. However, because of the price, the branches near the city center are generally always crowded. The clientele is usually made up almost solely of locals, with westerners preferring the slightly pricier joints around town. Nevertheless, I always found each Tse to be a great place to meet for a beer. The main beer served there is the Mongolian-brewed Mustanger, which, although not especially strong, is quite tasty and in strong supply. The only drawback to Tse is that the menu i...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 20, 2005

Tse Bars
Throughout Ulaan Bataar
Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Steppe Inn

Attraction

Quote:
Despite being open for under gour hours a week and being only slightly bigger than your average garden shed, Steppe Inn is close to the heart of any westerner who spends more than a few days in UB. Whereas most embassies around the world are more renowed for diplomacy and issuing visas, the British Embassy in Mongolia is famed for the pub that sits in its grounds. Every Friday night, the doors open around six, and the small wood cabin at the back of the main embassy building becomes the most happening little nook in northeast Asia. Steppe is an atmospheric place with wooden walls bedecked in a combination of Mongolian and Commonwealth paraphinalia. From shortly after opening until aro...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 30, 2005

Steppe Inn
British Embassy, Peace Avenue
Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Zaisan Memorial

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Attraction

Zaisan Memorial Photo, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia
Quote:
The Zaisan memorial stands on the top of a hill around three kilometers to the south of Ulaan Baatar at the foot of the Bogd Khan mountain range. It was built in the 1980s by the Communist government of the time to honor Mongolia's military and revolutionary heroes. Never keen on understatement the Communists built Zaisan on an epic scale. It features a towering statue of a Mongolian soldier made from white stone that stretches over one-hundred feet into the air. At the base of that is a circular mural depicting key events in Mongolian history from independence in the 1920s right through to the 1980s when a Mongolian cosmonaut flew alongside his Soviet colleagues. Whilst the history of the m...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 30, 2005

Zaisan Memorial
South of the city center
Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Lake Khovsgol

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Attraction

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Khovsgol Nuur is Mongolia's greatest natural asset. It is over 100 miles of deep-blue waters that are so pure you can drink straight from them. The whole area of the national park is incredibly remote, and consequently perfect for exploring untrodden paths and breathtaking views. The more intrepid traveller can get to see more of the lake by employing a local herdsman as a guide and setting out on horseback. In winter it is even possible to take jeeps out onto the frozen surface--it is worth noting, though, that very little accommodation or facilities are on offer in the winter, and the lake can remain at least partially frozen until well into July. As stunning as Khovsgol is, it is no ordin...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 3, 2005

Lake Khovsgol

Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Lake Khovsgol

Attraction | "Lake Khovsgol 2"

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
The best way to explore Khovsgol when you arrive is by horse. When I visited the lake with two friends, we employed a local guide named Ochirbaat, or Ochi for short, to take us along the southeastern shores of the lake. We each rode along on our own horse for over 2 days. Along the way we stopped off at the gers of local herdsmen and camped slap right next to the banks of the lake--it was truly wonderful. Ochi brought along a traditional Mongolian tent, complete with a large stove to keep us warm and to cook our food. The tent was an awesome place. Even though it was May, temperatures outside were still below freezing, and the the main body of the lake was frozen solid, we were toas...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 3, 2005

Lake Khovsgol

Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Manzshir Khiid

Attraction

Manzshir Khiid Photo, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia
Quote:
In the 1930s Mongolia, like much of the Soviet Union, Mongolia went through a series of vicious purges to get rid of so-called undesirable elements. In Mongolia, the brunt of this was born by the Buddhists, thousands of whom were killed whilst their monasteries and temples were destroyed. Mnazshir Khiid was bulldozed and left in ruins. However, the setting of the area is so spectacular that the ruins in themselves are well worth the visit. They sit at the bottom of an imposing cliff face and the end of a long, sweeping valley. The views from the ruins both along the valley and up the cliffs are breathtaking. In addition to this, the area is almost completely deserted; the only signs of life is a sm...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 3, 2005

Manzshir Khiid

Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Khan Brau

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Attraction

Quote:
Khan Brau is probably the most popular bar/restaurant in Ulaan Baatar. The clientele is a mixture between westerners and well-to-do Mongolians The beer is expensive for Mongolian standards and in all fairness is downright rubbish. The company that owns the bar, brews a beer under the same name, which is remarakably sour and tasteless. When compared to some of the other local beers like APU and Chinggis it pales in comparison. However, during my time living in Mongolia I found Khanbrau useful as a meeting place at the start of the evening rather than a regular drinking haunt. It's central location (right by Sukhabbatar Square in the center of UB) means it is an ideal place for meeting up with...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 7, 2005

Khan Brau
Chingisin Orgon Choloo
Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Kharanga

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Attraction

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
The Mongolian music scene is still a very fledgling one as young people in Ulaan Baatar experiment with outside influence. The current major trend is the emergence of hip-hop groups using western beats and rhythms and Mongolian lyrics. Despite the majority of these being not particularly talented, they are enjoying massive success thanks to the fact that Mongolian kids don't get to see that wide a spectrum of music and don't really know any better I only once dragged myself to a Mongolian hip-hop concert and when I did so I was bitterly disappointed. Two friends and I went to see the teen sensations Ice-Top, who despite drawing an impressive crowd were pretty poor. One Mongolian band that re...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 7, 2005

Kharanga
UB Palace
Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

The Museum of Natural History of Mongolia

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Attraction | "Natural History Museum"

Quote:
Mongolia changed from Communism to a free-market in 1990. Since then the economy has faltered and many state institutions have been starved of funds. Nowhere is that fact more clear to see than at the Natural History Museum in Ulaan Baatar. Not only is the building itself showing signs of decay and is in need of a coat of paint and a good spring clean, but many of the exhibits are in need of revamping or perhaps just replacing. There is plenty to see though. The prime exhibit is the dinosaur section. It is perhaps not all that well known that Mongolia is the dinosaur capital of Asia and possibly the world. In the 1930s the American Indiana Jones type Roy Chapman Andrews discovered countless uniqu...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 4, 2006

The Museum of Natural History of Mongolia
Near Sukhbaatar Square
Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
(0)11 324543

Sukhbaatar Square

Attraction

Quote:
The focal point of the Mongolian. It is named after the revolutionary hero who helped the country grasped independence from China. Sukhbaatar was well deserving of all the honors heaped upon him; not just does he have the national square named after him, but his face adorns half the country's bank notes - Chinggis Khan is unsurprisingly on the others. He also has a province and an area of the capital city named after him. 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 ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2006

Sukhbaatar Square

Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

Gobi

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
It didn’t take me long to get sick of the intense cold that encapsulated Ulaan Baatar. To alleviate that boredom, I decided to look for the best way to get out of the city. As it transpired, the easiest option was to jump onto the train and head due south in the direction of the Gobi desert. The journey from the city out to the desert took upwards of 10 hours. Although sitting in a bare four-berthed compartment was not the most thrilling way to spend most of a day, it gave us an excellent chance to look at the changing faces of the countryside. After we first left Ulaan Baatar, everything we could see through the window was frozen and snow-covered, but as we headed south, things began to change. A ...Read More

Darkhan - Wolf Hunting

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Mongolia is famed far more for its wide-open countryside and seemingly unending horizons than it is for its city-life. The capital city of Ulaan Baatar is something of a Communist relic made up of blockish 1950s styled buildings, the majority of which have lost what little lustre they once had. It is also shrouded by a smoggy cloud of pollution produced by the ageing cars and buses that run along its roads and by large coal-fuelled power stations on the outskirts of the city. Whilst UB may not seem to be the jewel of northern Asia it positively sparkles in comparison to Darkhan – Mongolia’s second largest city. Darkhan was built in the early 1960s with not inconsiderable help from Mongolia’s Soviet...Read More

Tsetseegum Uul

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
If you were to look down on northern Asia from above, the city of Ulaan Baatar would appear as little more than the tiniest of dots in the midst of a vast unfettered field of nothing. Even on ground level it is easy to see that once you pass beyond the city limits, you’ll quickly be enveloped in an expansive virtually untamed wilderness. Mongolia is famous for this unbridled countryside, and before I made my way from London to UB, it was Mongolia’s great outdoors that I was keenest to see and explore. Unfortunately, Mongolia is also famous for being one of the coldest places on earth. From September until well into April, it can be as cold as 40 degrees below 0, with heavy snow and ice covering mos...Read More