It was early in the AM, six to be precise. Greeted by our garrulous tour guide and driver, we went over to a hotel for BATH and breakfast before embarking on a camping trip in the coldest time of the year. The concept of bath in a hotel we weren’t staying at confused me. Since the closest we’ve come to a shower was the hand held bidet shower a few days ago, why not? And so it was. An empty communal bath at 6:30 am.
Before heading out to Ger Camp, 50kms away from Ulaanbaatar, we popped by Sukhbaatar Square in honor of the warrior Damdin Sukhbaatar who liberated Mongolia from the Chinese during the 1921 revolution. The central square,covered in the notorious winter smog, was surrounded by massive Soviet style blocks of buildings(some refurbished by the Kuwaiti government) and the irresistible Louis Vuitton and Mont Blanc stores.
We then visited the little of what remained from the destruction of monasteries during the 1930s under Khoorloogin Choibaisan’s leadership, Gandantegchinlen Monastery. Temples below:
Finally, we were on our way to the camp, driving by several gold, copper and coal mines on the outskirts including a massive 130 ft Genghis Khan equestrian steel structure. Inside the steel complex was the largest boot ever made and a private collectors exhibition of limited Mongolian artifacts and stuff from the empire. A history guide was present to explain how far they’ve invaded the entire world, but all I could gather from what she said was Kuwait. Go figure.