When I went to buy an adaptor, the staff member at the AIRPORT asked 'Where is that?' There are only eighteen countries bigger, but it has a population of less than 3 million. Forty five percent of its people live in Ulaanbaatar and more in the winter when the nomads come in for the safety of the city.
Mongolia is infamous for holding a world record that no one wants to break. Made famous by association with Ghengis Khan, the Gobi desert, abundant sunshine, Buddhist temples and snow capped mountains. You are forgiven if you don't know that Ulaanbaatar is the capital city of Mongolia, closer by proximity to Russia than to China.
The horse is very important to Mongolians
Ulaanbaatar has had the coldest temperature in history, negative 84. So I guess I am lucky to be visiting in October when the days can get up to 16 and the mornings a balmy zero! The government turns on the heating in October through to May only, regardless of the actual temperature.
Don't ask me why, but when I was driving along the very bumpy, dusty main road from the International airport I was reminded of Indiana Jones. Apparently the road rules are guidelines only. If there's an accident on the one lane roads, no one can move until the police arrive, at their leisure.
The main road to the airport. Recently been fixed.
Mongolia has one of the largest land and horse per capita ratios. Nearly 40% of the population live in poverty and somehow manage on $1.25 a day. The life expectancy is 64 so that makes me elderly by their standards. It's a harsh environment built on a nomadic culture. They say it's the only capital city in the world without a no Mc Donald's.
Fair trade for creative work
This is a third world county at the cusp of change. With no door to door postal service, 50% of the population has no running water, washing machine or sewerage but now they have have WiFi.
The meals are a bit of pot luck. I ordered a baked potato but it turned out to be tomatoes. Trying to order room service was a bit of an adventure. At one stage I was told I had no right to choose, that they would select for me.
I thought that attending the buffet might be more successful. The choices were American or English breakfast. Since I didn't feel like chocolate cake for breakfast I ordered English but explained I didn't want the sausage because I was vegetarian. This is an obscure concept to the Mongolians who get skervy as a result. They compensated by adding 7 rashers of bacon to lettuce, cucumber, corn and champignons.
Despite the perfectly rehearsed question about how I'd like my eggs, the result of my hard boiled request was an egg that had been cracked raw on top of my breakfast. I don't know why they asked what I'd like to drink because my answer was clearly irrelevant. They only had orange juice.
In UB buildings are shooting up at an alarming rate and haphazard way. Workers build 24/7 until the weather stops everything for months. There are live wires, bricks and construction materials strewn all over the pavements. Too bad if you live next door to a multi-level construction.
LIve wires on the footpath
Once the winter sets in the only people who will be out are those who have had too much to drink. If they fall over or asleep they will be not make it home. They will be found frozen in good time.
It might seem like an unlikely holiday destination, especially for sunlovers. It's probably not on many bucket lists but what a beautiful place it is. Mongolia is fascinating and I can't wait to go back. One hint for next time you are travelling to UB. Don't smile, they think if you have no reason to, then you are an idiot.
Sounds a great place to visit, but only in their summer. It is almost impossible to imagine a country so huge with a population of only three million. Jenkins didn't mention why on earth she was there.