Just after the train rounded one of the rolling green hills of Mongolia we could see the haze of Ulaanbaatar on the horizon. Ulaanbaatar is a city of well over a million people, but it's dwarfed by the vastness of its surroundings. This capital city seems to be plopped in the middle of nowhere. With no major landmarks, Ulaanbaatar is surrounded by nothing but rolling green hills as far as the eye can see.
Once inside the city and out of sight of what surrounds it, it becomes obvious that Ulaanbaatar is a city of well over a million people and is the antithesis of the pristine landscape we were just traveling through. The crystal blue skies were now a snogged haze, the click click click sound from the train turned into a relentless barrage of car horns.
Although the city is a bit rough, some aspects shine. The people we encountered in the city were lovely. Everyone was very helpful and sweet. One of the Mongolian guys on the train asked Meggan and I why we smiled so much. We answered because we're happy. The Mongolian said that he was happy too, but if he smiled as much as we did, people would think he was crazy. Well, in the city we managed to get a few smiles.
We visited Gandantegchinlen Monastery which has been the principal center of Buddhist learning in Mongolia. About 150 monks are housed in this monastery. The surrounding grounds were full of Buddhist devotees doing prayer circuits around the property.
Before we headed out of the city to the countryside we had time to visit the Natural History Museum, which was very nice. It has an impressive collection traditional clothing and a very interesting maps and artifacts from the Chinggis Khan empire. All these years I've been calling him Genghis Khan, not correct. The correct pronunciation was verified with my first beer in Mongolia.
- In 2008 we (Meggan and Beau) set out to see the world and start a business. Since then we have visited 48 countries and we’re just getting started. Travel and design go hand in hand. Whether we’re on the other side of the planet, or down the street we always find things to inspire us.