Ulaanbaatar is modern with the character of a Western city. It is a world apart from the rest of the country.
Having said that there is not a great deal to see or do. But no one comes to Mongolia to see the cities!
We spent a day exploring the city on foot. The Narantuul market was huge and sold pretty much everything from riding boots to furniture.
The main square was very impressive with the government building at the centre and various statues. No idea who they are of, as unfortunately my Mongolian is pretty basic (if that).
The highlight though was the temple complex surrounded by sky scrapers. Various temples dedicated to different deities adourned with sculptures, paintings and gold.
We took a quick detour to the ghenghis Khan statue. 30m of stainless steel…the pictures can explain it better than me.
The next stop on our trip was Darkhan, the second biggest city. This was a mere stop off on the way to the Russian border.
We were told about a temple, not far from the city called Amarbayasgalant (very isolated and beautiful in the hills). The first section of the road was perfect Tarmac. Unfortunately the car had become accustomed to dirt track and decided to revolt. As we sped up to overtake we heard a huge bang. We first thought it was a puncture, but Mongolian car troubles are never that simple. Turns out the rear differential had exploded, literally. We nursed her back to town in order to find a mechanic. Alas the diagnosis was blatantly obvious and off came the prop shaft, differential and some other bits.
Now 2WD we continued to the temple. This was some of the toughest off roading of the whole trip with snow, deep mud and rough tracks. Luckily she remained hard as nails and made it (90% of the way). We reached a small river and decided that we couldn’t go over it; couldn’t go around it; and couldn’t go through it (mum will get that reference). We therefore decided to disembark and trek the final kilometres to the temple.
The temple was beautiful but utterly deserted. We admired it from the outside and from a view point up the hill.
And now we make our way to the border. Beautiful country and I’ll be sure to return one day.