First Impressions | Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

What do you do with six weeks in Mongolia? We decided to book a week in Ulaanbaatar upon arrival to arrange for tours and scope the city out. To be honest, from what I had read and heard, I was expecting a total wasteland. While Ulaanbaatar is not up to par with other Asian metropolitan cities, it was surprisingly much more modern and westernized than I thought. (Especially coming from Irkutsk, Russia where nothing feels modern.) There is a restaurant called Los Angeles, which is down the street from California Restaurant, which is a few stores down from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and across town is The Brooklyn Restaurant & Pub. So I guess they covered all my old haunts. The streets are filled with luxury cars boasting brands like Lexus, Mercedes, Range Rover, Hummer, etc and while we sat having lunch, songs by Jason Mraz and The Lumineers played in the background. Gone are the days of broken down Russian Lada cars and Russian club music.

One thing is for sure though, the air quality here can grind on your sinuses. The city is quite dusty and you inhale the dust along with the car fumes (traffic is horrible!) leaving you all stuffed up. And while there are modern parts to the city, there are also the areas that are less so.1 4 3 3.1 2One day we took a LONG walk in search of Buddha Park and a memorial that was to have a great view of the city. As we crossed a river, it felt like we were in a different part of town. Suddenly we were among several newly built, or still in construction buildings that appear to be luxury apartments. 5With all these tall buildings we couldn't find the big Buddha statue...


we spotted Buddha among the luxury condos in construction. Isn't this a little sacrilegious?6We eventually found our way to Buddha's feet around all the construction in a valley of all the condos.

Imagine this could be your view if you snagged one of these condos.

Doesn't this seem more gimmicky than sacred?7The memorial we were in search of was perched high upon a hill and so our legs took a beating from the stairs.

On the way up, Rick found a friend. 8As we continued the climb, the new construction around us was so visible.

It almost appears that an entirely new city is being built. 12910 The next photo really shows modern living next to traditional living.

All the white circles below are traditional Mongolian ger's which shows the contrast of how people are living here.1113We finally reach the top and the view is amazing! 14 15.1 15 We spend another day at a local monastery which is filled with pigeons. I hate birds so this should be good. The grounds are filled with prayer wheels and colorful buildings though the inside of the monastery is the most impressive part and the safest part from getting bombed by bird poop.16 17 18 1920 21 2223 2425 262728 2930 3132 33Tomorrow we are leaving on a 8 day tour to the Gobi Desert, so stay tuned for a feast of photos upon return.