So I am in Mongolia.
Since the last time I wrote something down, a lot things have happened.
After spending a night with Irina, Alex and Sheldon I took the Train to Ulan Ude. Considering it's the last bigger city before Mongolia, the translated name "Red Gate" fits perfectly. One thing about that city.. I would not have expected it to be so beautiful. Cute pedestrian areas with flowers, a big fountain that glows when it's dark. All in all, very nice!
I met Tomek, a guy from Poland on Olkhon Island already, and we planned to go from Ulan Ude to Ulan Bataar (Mongolia) together! The night we spend in a little Hostel (OK Hostel) where we just spend the time sleeping. Basicially we arrived in the evening, and left at seven in the morning. There is one thing I don't really like, but did anyway. I took the bus instead of the train to Ulaan Bataar. For two reasons: Going by train takes aprox. 30 hours and costs 4000 Rulbes, going by bus takes 10 hours and costs 1000 rubles. Since you get your baggade checked out, and have to fill out a lot of different forms when leaving Russia and entering Mongolia it's a lot faster for 20 passangers then for 300. Obviously.
That's why I cheated on the Transsiberian "Express". I am sure going to take it to get to Beijing tho!
Well so now, I am in Ulaan Bataar, the capitol of Mongolia. To be honest, what people said about UB was true. It's no the most beautiful city on earth, by far. That's why I want to get out of here as soon as possible. Unfortunately I got myself a cold, probably at lake Baikal. I got in touch with Kamila and Suzia again (two girls I met in Moscow) and we will travel to Lake Hovsgol (Khövsgöl Nuur) together. Up there we we will probably rent a few horses, a guide, and make a five or six day horse trip to the shaman people who live in the very north of the lake (and Mongolia). Also my goal is to catch a fish in the lake, I will probably have to rent some fishing gear!
A thing that traveling in Mongolia you have to know is.. It's not easy. Basicially there is no public trains, no public busses or if, then they just go to the biggets cities. The tourist industrie lives of tourusts taking tours through Mongolia. So what you want to do is find yourself a few people who have the same goal, and create your own tour.
So now it's Tanja, a young woman from Canada, Suzia, Kamila and me going to the lake end of the week. Suzia also got some kind of infection and we both will stay in our hostels to cure a little bit.
Talking about hostels... Couchsurfing in Ulaan Bataar didn't really work out due to, I guess, misunderstandings - So I am in a very nice and cheap guesthouse (UB GUESTHOUSE) where one night costs 6 dollars.
That's about my situation and what we're about to do.
About Mongolia and Ulaan Bataar
As I said, the city is not really pretty. Dirty, dusty, busy and unorganized would be a few words that I throw in here. It's no place to spend a lot of time.
The people tho are very nice. Not like the Russian people, they like to smile more - not as much as other asians - and speak English! It's a relief to be in a country where most likely everyone speaks a few words English , or at least Russian.
To be honest, I really didn't go out much, because I'm trying to cure my cold. The food is good, I've been eating in a local Mongolian Restaurant where I ate something that looked nice in the Menua - looking at pictures. Everything has meat inside. It can be a soup, bareky or dumplings. Fatty, a very weird texture, but tasty in all :) Of course with every meal you get a cup of hot horse milk. Which doesn't really taste any good. It's a miracle how the girls stay in that shape eating this kind of food every day. You do not see any fat or overweight people in UB.
One more funny thing about Mongolia... The money. There are no coins, only notes, lots of them. My wallet just exploded after exchanging money. One Euro is worth about 1750 Turig (MNT). The smallest note I got was a 20MNT bill. The biggest is 20000. Mostly people use 100s, 500s and 1000s! Look at the picture below :D
Of course, the country is beautiful, endless grasslands with a ger (Mongolian tent, like a yurt) here and there, huge herds of horses, goats and cows! Nothing more then that!
So now, I will hang out and do nothing untill at least friday, get rid of my cold, and then move deeper inside the country. And this time I am certrainly sure that there will be no internet where I am going! I hope not! ;D
Greetings from Mongolia, a place I've only looked at on a map for more then a year,
ps. The pictures from the way to Ulaan Bataar are bad quality because I could only do them from inside the bus.. through the window!