Post #114 Ulaanbaatar

Day 141 590 days to go. Distance: In transit total 8059km. It’s 1.25pm Thursday 19/4/2012 Ulaanbaatar. It’s snowing today OMG!!! We arrived yesterday to Mongolian blue skies like you read about. I would have posted yesterday but after arriving, packing ourselves up, finding accommodation, and doing some have-to’s, the internet cafes were closed. Instead I sent a spot message to let family know we had arrived safe. In my travels today I found this dodgy internet games center, fabulous for uploading photos into word press. Yes!!!!!! I’m back into the land of internet freedom. May I say firstly how awesome it’s been to help the help of Janet and Marcus to keep the blog going through China. Thank you darlings!!!!!! I actually started uploading the photos onto an email when I first started today then thought… hold the fort!!! New country!!!! So I’m back online and loving it yay! Hey I’m in Mongolia!! Hi there from downtown Ulaanbaatar. It appears a gritty tough town full of color, strong characters and activity. There’s a blend of classes with lots of young folk. There’s a range of buildings and apparent living standards. The outskirts of town seem poor and run down. Many buildings are graffitied and painted with religious murals. The graffiti presents like statements as opposed to vandalism so I’ll capture some more interesting ones over the days to share. Central city however is this grand square oozing with Nationalism. There are many art centers, and infrastructure aimed at tourists and ex pats. Yesterday I met three ex pats corporate workers and two of the guesthouses were booked out with NGO workers. The road traffic is nuts with police controlling most intersections. It’s quicker to walk through the inner city area. We arrived about 2pm yesterday. Jason helped us off the train with our luggage. He was a good companion. I also met Rachel from that States who was fun and very passionate. We shared some similar interests and I enjoyed our conversations. She’s on a world trip including Morocco, Nepal, Tibet, China, Morocco and Indonesia. Rachel’s from a small southern country town and loves the exposure of travel to new experiences and appreciations. She said this was her last chance to travel before thinking babies and wants to squeeze the most of the time. Back to the platform….Rube and I packed ourselves up and headed into the city using our lonely planet map. It was pretty good and got us there ok. We already got lots of attention on the platform from railway workers who were interested and friendly. They introduced themselves to me from a refreshing change shaking my hand. It caught me off guard in a very niceway!! One of the men’s name is Mork. I’ve been practicing my Mongolian since when I meet folk. ‘Sain uu’ (hello), ‘Ba yar la la’ (thanks) and ‘Ba yar tai’ (goodbye). The hotel man this morning was teaching me how to ‘hack’ the last ‘laa’ in hello. That’s what it sounds like with your tongue behind your front teeth. Just dodge the spittle if you try 🙂 Arriving yesterday it was soon apparent I should have booked accommodation. I tried 7 places before finding one not listed in the LP but it will do the trick. Access to information is again an issue. I had 3 people yesterday offer me help which was greatly appreciated. I would have asked a dozen others and all folk were very open to helping, patient and accommodating. They also seemed to have a mixed grasp of English which makes a huge difference. Tourist information is provided by the hotel so I’m yet to hit mine up for any help. mmmm not sure how that will go but we’ll see. The guesthouse I’m at costs $7.50 and I’m the only person in the dorm so far. Not sure why given how busy the other places were. It was a couple of dollars dearer despite seeming a bit dodge but I have a place to keep Rube safe and the room is clean enough with heating, a comfy bed and lots of space. I have booked into another place for Friday onwards but I may yet stay where I’m at given the amount of gear I have and the small pokiness and business of the other guesthouses I saw yesterday. They were also up flights of narrow stairwells and don’t’ appear Ruby friendly. I found a bank to exchange my Yuen and a department store to buy an adaptor and some food stuff. The money is called Togrog and the Aussie dollar is good at T1350 = $1. After my have-tos, it was 10pm and the 2 internet places I found were closed. By the way the conductor never asked for the excess cash so I’m $150 richer yay!!! I found a café that had wifi but couldn’t log into yahoo for some reason so the spot messenger had to do for yesterday. I had the best sleep last night and didn’t stir until 9am this morning. I have a list of logistics to do over the next 2 weeks first to register my visa as we’ll be here over 30 days. You have to register your visa within 7 days of arrival so it’s the first job given the Kazakh embassy will hold onto my visa while processing my application. Jason gave me a good tip to photo copy my passport, visa and stamp into Mongolia to have on board while I’m without a passport. He learn t this the hard way in Beijing so I’m happy to piggy back his trial and error 🙂 I rugged up and headed out in the light snowfall. It’s still snowing outside a bit heavier now. I think it was colder yesterday with the clear skies. There’s enough snow to be settling on the cars and paths. I’m not thinking about the cold and cycling. Tomorrows forecast blue skies again and in two weeks we’ll see how the average temp has warmed up. Meanwhile I just want to enjoy this new cool place and it’s folk. I walked to where the INFC office was listed in the Lonely Planet but was told it has moved out to the airport about 16kms out of town. This experience itself was really great. There is now a bank in the office space. The staff called to check where the office had moved to. They gave me a coffee and bicky and wrote the address in Mongolian on a bit of paper to give a taxi. One of the women could speak quite good English and we spoke about my trip. She asked ‘why’ very genuinely. I loved that I could so easily answer her. You can’t buy this experience; you can’t read it in a book or find it on-line. You can’t make it up or imagine what it is like. Our job is to keep each other safe and sound. The rest is unplanned stuff that makes every day a challenge and experience. Some good some not but every one priceless. I have the opportunity to do something most people don’t and therefore have something I think worth sharing. ‘How could I not make the most of this opportunity?’ Of course she got a different version. ‘I want to write a book’ was my reply 🙂 She seemed satisfied with this. There’s something so special about meeting local folk. When I say thank you and wave goodbye I feel connected to them just for that moment. Afterwards it’s a great memory and a cool thing that I love to do. It makes what I’m doing count in ways that count most to me!! I probably should have checked on-line to confirm where the INFC was but then I would never have had that experience. I think I’ll keep rolling with how I’m doing things for now 🙂 I headed off with my bit of paper towards the airport road. Did I mention Mongolian uses Cyrillic? It’s cool!! I had learnt it years ago when hiking in Bulgaria to read the trail signs. Most of it has fallen out of my head but I’m enjoying crash course refresher and practicing on signage around town. Oppsy a butterfly moment. So back to the airport. The traffic was crap and I wasn’t keen to sit in it watching the taxi meter. Tomorrow’s forecast fine again so Rube and I will cycle out there in the morning. Depending on how long this will take, we may be able to get to the Kazakh embassy in the arv. There’s no drama if we don’t but it would be good to have the visa application in before the weekend when the office is closed. This afternoon I’ll try find the map shop and have a look at some route options. I like pawing over maps more so when the trip ahead is just around the corner literally. It’s all hands on and very very real yay. I like real!!!! A little scary but makes me feel alive and living. I must say I also like posting and it’s great to be back. I’ve missed sharing stuff with you. So while you’re happy to stay on board and enjoy the ride, I’ll keep on posting 🙂 Talk soon x

Published by shecyclesolo

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.' H D Thoreau

One thought on “Post #114 Ulaanbaatar

  1. Great photos …and great read ,glad ur safe ,really really looking forward to taking my mind to Mongolia and it’s life and beliefs and history and scenery and food,do they squat there…?….most of all the photos …..xoxo

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