Sunday, May 10, 2020

Around Ulaanbaatar

After our venture in the south we turned around to Ulan Bator as our time was closing. We stayed in the lovely River Point run by René from Austria. He arrived in Mongolia 25 years ago and has witnessed the growth of its capital with all its problems, more on that later.
As a perfect host he has always time for his guests and a story up its sleeve. Also worth mentioning are his perfect Wiener Schnitzel! We couldn't believe it when we laid eyes on them on the menu and nagged René until he himself manned the stove for us!

The camp was rather full which led to great rounds in the evening. Worth mentioning was a group of motorbike riders from Poland waiting for their bikes to arrive in Mongolia. Apparently they were stuck somewhere in tax/border limbo with day to day estimates when they would get them. Having already spent almost a week of their three (?) week journey waiting the mood was a bit low. The only thing which helped was their Polish vodka 😆

Neatly parked between buildings

Having civilisation at our finger tips we though it would be a great idea to do some maintenance on our Land Cruiser, being probably the second most common car after the Prius. So the usual waiting game started and in the end we left only with an oil change as the break pads the mechanics "found" wouldn't fit. We politely declined their offer to saw them in half... 😳

Lets talk a bit about UB as it is commonly abbreviated. Almost half the population of Mongolia live in its capital which is wedged in by two mountain ranges.
Quick reminder, Mongolia is the least populated country in the world with about two people per square kilometre! Which would result the rest of the county has about a density of one person per square kilometre 😍

☣️ Biohazard 🙊
This was on a brand new motorway...

UB did grow quite a lot in the last decades resulting in new high rise buildings and lots and lots of cars. The traffic was horrendous! There were cars everywhere! City planning must be non existent as nobody thought of were to put them. At least one of the lanes is used for parking... Also drainage seemed to be a problem as during the heavy summer down pours the streets were flooded.
Another big problem is the air pollution due to its geographic location. The still numerous gers cook using coal and wood but probably the biggest culprit are the multiple! coal power plants right in the middle of the city...

Anyway, if you can we would advise to avoid UB! It was by far the lowest point in our time in Mongolia!
Stressful, dense, expensive, ugly and nasty it is the total opposite of this wonderful country!
If you have to stay in UB we would recommend the River Point which is located outside the city center and has an exceptional host! Greetings to René!