Sightseeing in Ulaan Baatar
(Reading, England, UK)
New Image of Ulaan Baatar
The flight back to Ulaan Baatar was much less eventful that the flight out had been. As part of our organised tour we also had some sightseeing lined up in Ulaan Baatar.
We were taken on a trip to the Winter Palace - one of the former homes of the emperor and his wife. The palace is fairly small, but contains displays of some of the royal couple's expensive possessions, which are impressively ornate and elaborate. There was a big charge to take photos so I don't have any photos of the place.
After the Winter Palace we were taken to the factory outlet shop for the cashmere wool factory. We were told that this offered the best prices in town, but I think that this was the usual line spun to tourists - I've experienced the same sort of thing in other places, and as usual the prices are at least as good if not better at the shops in town.
In the end we didn't buy anything, and went to the state department store in town instead, where they had a good selection of scarves etc. They also have a good selection of local artwork (particularly paintings) in the state department store.
We also went to Gandan monastery. It's the main monastery in Ulaan Baatar and somehow survived the Communist period and the destruction of the monasteries. It's an interesting place to go and see Buddhism at work. There's an enormous Buddha statue in one of the pavilions which you had to pay to take photos of, so again I don't have any photos of that, which is
We had a trip to the National History Museum factored into our tour, but we managed to persuade our guide to take us to the Natural History Museum instead.
I don't know how she managed to wangle it, because she had a pre-printed voucher for the National History Museum, but she just got a pen out and amended it before handing it in at the counter in the other museum! It seemed to do the trick. The Natural History Museum contains a few interesting dinosaur skeletons including a truly enormous pair of arms; they've never found the rest of the skeleton but it must have been massive!
Every night we would go for meals with our guide; she wouldn't leave us alone! All of the meals were included in the tour, and we did go to some pretty good restaurants. On day 1 they took us to a Mongolian Barbecue, which isn't Mongolian at all; we had to help them with how the process worked!
We also had time for a quick trip to Terelj National Park, where we did a bit of horse riding.
This was a new experience for me; perhaps it gets more comfortable the better you get at it!
We had a great evening in Ulaan Baatar: England were playing football, and we managed to find an English pub on the main square, called Dave's Place, which was showing the football. We ended up staying late and playing some darts with the regulars. We'd also bumped into a Scottish guy who we'd first met at the hostel in St Petersburg, which is always nice to do.