Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, June 2016

Choijin Lama temple in downtown Ulaan Baatar

We spent only a couple of days in the capital of Mongolia, but the days were long. There is so much sunlight from sometime after 4:00 am to after 10:00 pm. Here’s just a little on the capital of Mongolia. We spent only about two days here. There is much mixing of old and new. We saw skyscrapers and vertical Mongolian script. People walked around wearing business suits and robe-like garments of felt or silk. There was a centuries-old temple surrounded by city streets.

We walked around one day and went up an elevator in a random office building to get a better view of the city. It was a clear day and we had a good view. 

It is interesting to see the ghers in an urban environment (not easily visible on this photo, they are the white specks near the hills) after seeing them out on the steppes surrounded by so much land. But here in the city they sit, another mixing of ancient and modern in this captivating place.  

We passed by an interesting installation of many painted hands. It turned out to be a call for Mongolians to vote in an approaching election. A young woman who spoke English well explained the project to us. She said voter turnout is often low and they hope to reverse this trend. The hands look like those waving in the air being recognized and counted, hopefully beckoning  voters to exercise their right. Each was painted the previous day by passers-by and the display was an attention-grabber in my opinion. We wished them luck.

With our guide, we went to a Buddha statue built in the early 2000’s, a 1960’s monument to honor Russian soldiers in WWII (Mongolia was attacked by Japan and got help from Russia), and the National Museum. There is a natural history museum I would like to have seen (Mongolia’s Gobi desert has yielded hundreds of dinosaur fossils) but it was under renovations. 

Random Mongolia pics:

  selfie with yak (Above), dung beetles below!  

I really hope we can return to Mongolia some day. The landscapes are like nowhere we’ve seen and the low population density makes everything seem even more vast and untouched. The blending of traditional and contemporary is mesmerizing, as is the changing political scene. Valuable copper mines were found fairly recently and are bringing a new source of wealth to thiscountry that once claimed lands as far away as Thailand and Western Europe as its own. For now I plan to read more about Ghengis Kahn and remember our short but wonderful time in Mongolia.

Above: vertical writing in traditional Mongolian style, below: detail from monastery, layers of gher wall, mama and baby camel 


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