|Arrived in UB the 26th early in the morning. Leaving tomorrow on a 6 day trip, wont have internet or telephone. Really looking forward to it! Will post more after we get back.
Marijn & Renate
We didn't spend much time in UB, but from what we saw it was a pretty cool city. The actual city isn't so easy on the eye, it's quite a soviet kind of place, with the ironed door soviet blocks (which I've noticed have three foot thick walls and an iron door you wouldn't find anywhere else but the insanity ward in Alcatraz). Otherwise its's a pretty open city, the people are amazingly friendly, shocking after frosty Russia, and there are so many expats swarming the city that all signs where in english, many people spoke in english and it was way more tourist friendly. And for the first time in a month we managed to get a full plate of food (which costs too much in Russia) and it was good too, something we hadn't ahd either in a months.
As for the country trip, well it was quite the experience. We were warned before we went that nights were glacial, we even got special sleeping for the trip free of charge from our hostel. Well, we still managed to underestimate how cold it would be. For all the six days we were to sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger, which is a felt hut made of goad and sheep skin (the smell aussaults you the second you step in), there is an oven in the middle, which Marijn pucntualy kept going, to warm it up, but he wasn't willing to stay up all night, so once the fire went out the temperature would drop to about the same as the outside, a very mild -40. THe first night we were utterly unprepared and didn't sleep we were so cold, but it was so much colder out of the sleeping bags that we didn't get up and get more blankets either (you might scoff, but it was a real dilemma). As for the bathrooms we were offered, it was unspeakable,it was a hole in the ground (not so unusual) buth the cold had frozen everything that managed to find itself down there and for some reason a tower of feces had managed to construct itself (I have no idea to what we owe this phenomena, Marijn claims he tried to aim for it but missed), this tower was climbing uncomfortably close to where we had to squat, and add the fact that you're bearing your butt in freezing weather.
For my birthday we spent it in a National Park on the shorse of of the White Lake, which was quite white due to the snow but I don't know what colour it is in the summer. We were also near a volcano which we reached by horse back, a set of fluffy miniture horses which bore a strange resemblance to once of my stuffed animal. We also got a free dinner from each of our hosts (we drove to a different ger almost every day, which means around six hours driving until we reach anything) Which usualy consisted of mutten fat and noodles. On our last night in a ger, we also had the pleasure to hear a traditional Mongolian artist. He sang for us and played several traditional instruments, and even played a song on his forehead, the back of his head and his nose, which apparently is an art in Mongolia.
We got back to UB, but only had one day left, which we thought we could use to go visit a very famous monestary in the city, but they were unfortunately doing a once a year cleaning that day (even though a man at the door was still trying to sell us tickets), so we missed the inside, though the outside was already pretty impressive. I think that should be enough for now.
Renate (and Marijn who's on the phone at the moment, and has left me with the immesurable responsibility of filling up the empty blanks here.)
Will add pictures once we find the chord to connect my camera to the computer. And also a film of our artist friend. Be sure the speaker volume isn't too high.