Hey guys hope you had a nice weekend, so below is a much overdue roundup of my trip to Ulaan Baator or UB as the locals call it.
Mongolia sounds so exotic, so far away, almost like another planet. What have you heard about Mongolia?
I only knew about the endless green steppe, Genghis Khan, yurts, the lamb oh and the Mongolian barbecue which actually has very little to do with Mongolian real food. After trying to fly out three times. We finally got all the documents we needed and managed to get on the plane. 4 hours later as the plane started the descent, all I could see was a sea of endless green. The airport was tiny and we quickly got through customs, as we left the airport we saw the mesmerising green mountains, we were right in the middle of a long valley on a two lane road heading to UB .
The air was incredible, the city is located on an altitude of 1,500 metres so it's very dry, slightly chilly and very crisp. They say it's getting more polluted because of the coal, but nothing to be honest beats HK pollution (well maybe mainland China).
The city itself is a long stretched out mish-mash of small village like houses on the outskirts and grand leftovers of the Soviet architecture peppered with half built modern skyscrapers in the centre, all connected by tree lined roads and alleys. There are jeeps everywhere: Porsches, Range Rovers, Hummers and a few Japanese cars. The traffic is crazy the city's population has doubled to 1.3 mm in the last 3 years, and the roads cannot really cope with the cars.
Mongolians are a fantastic mix of Russian and Asian, proud descendants of the great Genghis Khan: they are tough, strong, straightforward and in case of the girls very beautiful. Maybe because of their nomadic past or because of the Buddhist influence there is a strong sense of family values and tradition. Almost all the meetings I went to were attended by both the father and the children (sons and daughters). The children are expected to take on responsibility at a young age and continue the work with the dad. There was a strong feeling of family solidarity and respect which I think is something we forget in the individualistic realms of the Western world.
Anyway so back to UB, they have amazing French wine in the restaurants, a delicious French creperie from Brittany, a Louis Vuitton, Armani, Hugo Boss and a Zegna, although there is still no Starbucks or McDonalds, but there are fun clubs and bars with really good music and they definitely know how to drink and party with 87 litres of vodka being consumed per person every year.
So if you get a chance, check it out, they say the country side is absolutely stunning! I cannot wait to go back.