Ulanbaatar, Mongolia

  • Date
  • 1 August 1999

We headed for the largest local market, about 10 kilometers from the railroad station. There we found food, car parts, clothes, leather jackets, men’s suits, shoes, kitchen products, stoves, linoleum, rugs, fur hats, fabrics, screws and bolts – you name it. Just like the people in the market in Ashgabat, they pushed and shoved along the way. Honestly, I had to plant my feet when I stopped to look at things or else I was moved out of the way. I found this most irritating, but this is life as they know it. Those who shove hardest win. People didn’t want to be photographed either. One man sprayed me with water and when we were leaving, a rock hit my back. Jim did not believe someone threw it, but how else did a rock rise off the ground and hit my back?

Then we headed to Bogd Khan Palace, which like the monastery yesterday has no maintenance program. The entry fee is $2, which is a lot of money here, but no reinvestment is made in the property and buildings.

The Palace began as a monastery in the early 1900s but of course the Communists closed it. The living quarters for the Khan had on display an ornate yurt covered by 150 snow leopard skins given to him by the Ming Dynasty, dark wooden rooms with decadent beds and chairs and stuffed bears, snakes, frogs and animals. These animals are not stored properly so the hair, teeth, paws and other features of the animals are deteriorating.

Afterwards we visited Ganden Monastery, which is home to a 26 meter gold Buddha and scores of young Buddhist students.