Tag Archives: Ulaanbaatar

A train full of eight year old gymnasts…across the Russian border

As the stern looking babushka descended our compartment steps, complete with red hat emblazoned with a hammer and sickle motif, our train could not be going anywhere but Russia. She would be our provodnitsa  ( carriage attendant) for the thirty something hour journey from Ulaanbaatar to Irkusk in Siberia. Something about her appearance fulfilling every stereotype of an older Russia lady (in my head) made the prospect of finally getting to ‘The Mother land’ all the more exciting.

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A soviet memory…Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar has lots of interesting things in it: museums, temples, palaces. But between those places the city is a little drab and austere, reminiscent of when Mongolia was part of the Soviet Union. Large, practical apartment blocks dominate, with dusty parks in-between, the newly wealthy inhabitants of the city spending more time in the new department stores. And did we mention the pickpockets? Someone told us before we got there that pockets in Ulaanbaatar are like Mongolian ATM machines…luckily we didn’t have anything stolen but this wasn’t without a lot of dodgy blokes trying….Now this might sound like we didn’t have a good time in the capital…but we did. Perhaps we liked the soviet aesthetics, or that some of the attempted robberies was so bad they became funny or maybe we just liked that the city had flushing toilets…who can say!

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