Sunday, 6 May 2012

Ulaan Bataar

Crawling into Ulaan Bataar in the early hours, all I wanted to do was sleep, and maybe have a few hours where there was no vodka involved. I was thankfully picked up and taken to my hostel where I could recuperate and get some sleep before setting out and having a wander around the city.

The capital city has seen an influx in it's population in recent years and as a result is a bit grimy with an unfrastructure unable to support an ever increasing population. There is massive development happening but for every new structure being built, there is a ger sitting right beside it. With the laws as they are, people can just come to the city and set up camp, such is their nomadic way, very surreal.

So close to the hills

As with any big city, there are of course many sights to see and all very much within walking distance. The city is set in a valley so it is only really expanding outwards with all the sights in the heart of the city.

The main square, Sukhbataar Square, is home to the Parliamentary building which houses a large statue of Chinggis Khaan, apparently I've been spelling it wrong the whole time. Close by there are many museums, something I would usually take a pass on, but when you discover there are dinosaurs inside it's hard not to go running to the front door. Many incomplete skeletons but the Tarbosaur (mini T-Rex) was amazing, no photos unfortunately.

Mongolia's Parliamentary building

New development downtown

Just a short walk away, a little south of the town centre, is the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khaan with it's many interior buildings, most of which are now filled with stuffed animals, the only one missing was an elephant, really. Further afield is the Zaisan Memorial, dedicated to fallen and forgotten soldiers during Soviet times, on top of a hill just out of town, a fair old walk but it offers decent views of the city where you can see just how much development is happening. North of the city is Gandan Khiid, a small temple complex with a huge Buddha inside.

Main temple of Gandan Khiid

Buddha below Zaisan Memorial

Entrance to the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khaan

Building within the Palace

Another building within the Palace

However, as nice as all these sights are, there's more to see and do out of the city and in the fresh air. Next stop, the steppes of Mongolia, where horses, camels and the Semi - Gobi await.

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