Category: mongolia

Jan 08 2010

Ulan Bator, Mongolia to Beijing, China

Mongolia is an ex Soviet country, still has some Russian influences.
Lenin statue

Took bus 7 to Zoisan Hill in the morning.

A big Budhha statue.

There are 681 steps to get up the hill.

View from the hill

Seems like Korea and Mongolia has a very close relationship.
A friendship park sponsored by the Korean government.

Had lunch at a University’s cafeteria just opposite the Zoisan Hill bus station. I like eating at University’s cafeteria because usually there are a good varieties of local food and is cheaper.
1500 Tugrug~USD1

Mongolian University

Took bus 11 at around 2pm to the airport.

The airport is around 18km away from the airport and got on the Mongolian Airways OM 0223 flight at 5.25pm to Beijing. After 34th countries, this will be my 6th flights in this trip.

Portrait of some Mongol leaders in the airport

Greetings in Cyrillic

This is what it means

Goodbye Ulan Bator

A bird eye view of the mountains

Arrived at Beijing airport at 7.25pm. Beijing airport is pretty big and new.

To get to the city there are 2 options, one is by the airport shuttle (16 Yuan) and the other one is by the airport express train (25 Yuan~USD$4). Took the later option and got to the city in 30 minutes.

Airport express train

Got to DongZhiMen and then transfer to BeiXinQiao subway stop to the LamaHostel (40 Yuan~USD6) which is just behind Gui Lu. Gui Lu is a street with many restaurants and is located at the north eastern part of Beijing, inside the 3rd ring road.
Gui Lu


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There’s even a Hooters in Beijing

Walked to SanLiTun from the Hostel. It’s around 40 minutes walk east and SanLiTun is an area famous for bars and pubs.

There are many new shopping malls in that area which wasn’t there 6 years ago when I visited.

The main street for pub isn’t that popular now. Most expatriates and young Chinese hang out at a small street behind. It’s a little similar to lower east side in New York city with some dive bars and smaller clubs.

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Jan 07 2010

Ulan Bator 2nd day, Mongolia

Walked to the train station with Goy this morning to enquire about trains to Beijing.

There are trains to Beijing 2 times a week, Thursday and Sunday morning. 200,000/130,000 Tugrug. The journey will start at 8am and arrive in Beijing 3pm one day later, around 31 hours train ride.
Train to HohHot (HuHeHaoTe) only goes on Friday and Monday. 120,760 Tugrug
Train to Erlian goes on Monday, Thursday and Friday. 50,000 or 83,000 Tugrug

Street View

Main department store in the city

Mongolia still has a big Russian influence.

Mongolian is sort of a Buddhist country. There were many temples but were razed because of communism.

Gandan Monastery

Took bus 21 to the Naran Tuul Market such as Black Market. The black market is huge and it’s very windy, super cold there.

Beatles

Circus

There are also some Korean influence in Mongolia because during the Soviet times, Stalin moved many Koreans to Mongolia. Currently, many Koreans and Chinese go to Mongolia to do business because the country is still lagging behind and there are more opportunities to make money. I noticed that there were quite a lot of Korean signboards.

UlaanBaatar Opera House

National University of Mongolia

Finally decided to take a flight to Beijing because flying will only take 2 hours, plus I get to stay another day in Ulan Bator and get to visit Beijing airport. Also I was worried that it might be hard to get train tickets in China because of school holidays. Winter time is low season for travel, a one way ticket by mongolian airways usually cost above USD$200 but now the tickets are selling for around 200,000 Tugruk~USD$136. Just for comparison purposes, the direct train from HohHot to Ulan Bator cost around USD$130, 24 hours and the train from Ulan Bator to Beijing cost around USD$110, 30 hours.

Trains departing from Mongolia to Beijing is also cheaper than the other way, I am not sure why.

Went to a local restaurant with 3 hostel mates, from America, Italy and Singapore. There are all around 40-60 years old but looked much younger than their age.

Rice with steak and Egg (2700 Tugruk~USD$2)

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Jan 06 2010

Ulan Bator, Mongolia

Mongolia has a population of slightly less than 3 millions people and is one of the most sparsely populated country in the world. Ulan Bator has around 1 million people so almost a third of the population live in this city. Ulan Bator is also the coldest capital of the world, having an annual average temperature of -1.3C. In January, during day time the average temperature ranges from -20C – -30C and the temperature can go below -40C during night time.

Got another ticket yesterday from Zamii Uud to Ulan Bator on the train itself. Like other Central Asian countries, Mongolia has a big Russian influences and use Cyrillic alphabets.

Train Station

Got to the train station at 10.30am. Met Tuya, a Mongolian on the train and she helped me changed into Mongolian Tugrug and got me a cab to the city center. Got off at the state department store and spent 1.5 hours walking around trying to find UB hostel. The hostel has moved to a location different from the map on Lonely Planet.

Lunch, Khuitsa (a mixture of lamb, potatoes and noodles, 3800 Tugruk~USD$2.5)

After spending the last 4 nights on a train, I am looking forward to sleep in a youth hostel tonight. From HohHot to Ulan Bator, the train tickets in total cost me (36+66+191=293) 293 Yuan. However, by taking a direct train from HohHot to Ulan Bator, it would cost 972 Yuan. Both options took the same amount of time, will arrive at the same time and it’s actually the same train. This is just a travel tips for travellers.

UB Hostel (USD$6).

National University of Mongolia

Visited the Natural history museum (1000 Tugruk~USD$0.7).

In front of the National history museum. (1200 Tugruk~USD$0.80). To those who were asking what I am wearing, this is what I am wearing in the cold Ulan Bator weather.

The national history museum is quite interesting because I get to piece together some of the old dynasty and empires I read in middle east and central Asia. The Mongol empire during 13th century is the largest empire in the world, the empire touched an area from Vietnam to Poland and has some influences on world history during the 13th and 14th century.

There are many ethnic groups in Mongolia. Majority is the Khalkha and they made up 85% of the population. The second biggest group is the Kazakh Turks.
Ethnic Mongolian dress

Yurt

S├╝khbaatar Square

Mongolian stock exchange is the world’s smallest stock exchange by market capitalization.

Because of the cold weather, I was a little hungry and ate 2 plates for dinner, Lamb soup noodles and Lamb Goulash. (5400 Tugruk~USD$3.5).

Lamb is a common dish here because Mongolia is a big animal husbandary country. On the train someone told me that half a kilo of lamb here only cost 2 Renminbi.

I heard some horror stories about a few tourists got robbed on the street.
The sign on the hostel doesn’t help.

Internet cafes here close at 9pm but the post office provides 24 hours internet access. Went there to update my blog and got back home at 2am and had to climb the gate to get back inside.

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