Children of Mongolia

Children Playing in Mongolia

          Children are much the same all over the world.  They just have different toys.  While the children of Mongolia may not have all the fancy toys that Western children have, they sure look like they’re having fun out on the Gobi Desert.

Fun on the Gobi Desert

 

The Children of Mongolia

Colorado or Mongolia?

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado or Terelj National Park, Mongolia?

If you didn’t look closely you might mistake these photos taken in Terelj National Park, Mongolia for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Mongolia

Mongolia, Rugged and Independent

          Sandwiched between Russia and China, now fiercely independent Mongolia is a country on the verge of becoming an economic power and a force to be reckoned with.  Its remote location makes it a little difficult to get to, but for travelers on the Trans-Siberian Railway it is a refreshing stop on the nearly 6,000 mile journey from Moscow to Beijing.  The moment I boarded the train in Ulan-Ude, Russia heading for Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, I began to sense the genuine friendliness and innate hardiness of the Mongolian people.  I had the opportunity to meet a number of them who were returning home from business trips or vacations and it was a great introduction to this wonderful country. 

Ulaanbaatar, City of Contrasts

          On arrival in Ulaanbaatar I was able to easily walk across the city from the train station with my backpack to the centrally located UB Guesthouse, one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in (see below).  First time visitors to Ulaanbaatar are immediately struck by the architectural contrast of ultra-modern buildings intermixed with yurts, temples and gray, cement monstrosities left over from Mongolia’s nearly 70 years as a satellite state of the Soviet Union, an unhappy period which ended in 1992.  In the pleasant June weather I visited many of the major sights on foot and was surprised to see so many nice shops and restaurants along the way.  Some of the ‘must see’ attractions include Sukhe Bator (the main square), the National Museum of Mongolian History, the Parliament Building with its free museum, the Choijin Lama Temple and the fabulous temple complex at Gandan Khiid.

The UB Guesthouse

          The UB Guesthouse came highly recommended by other travelers I met along the way and also in the guidebooks that I brought on the trip.  It is ideally located in the center of the city near the main square and was a fairly easy walk from the train station.  It is one of the larger city hostels I have stayed in and had numerous rooms, some private and some dormitory style.  The common areas were a great place to chat with other travelers and the clean, well-equipped kitchen was well stocked with free breakfast food.  The staff could not have been more friendly and helpful.  They assisted me in getting one of the limited train tickets to Beijing and planned a three day excursion to the Gobi Desert and national parks.  I paid $8 per night for a comfortable dorm bed.  The UB Guesthouse was clean and safe and run by a friendly, helpful staff.  All this, along with the great location and reasonable fees, make it one of the best sleeps on our list of Awesome Accommodations.

A Whirlwind Tour of UlaanBaatar, Mongolia