Welcome to the final installment of the Golden Week 2016 posts.
Just up the street from the hotel there was a bank where I was able to exchange my USD for Mongolian tögrög. I never saw any coins (the Bank of Mongolia website lists coins as in circulation), only bills. Because of the value of the tögrög compared to the US dollar is so low, I ended up with a large amount of bills. Each bill had Genghis/Chinggis Khan on it. Prices looked high but in reality were quite low.
Ulan Bator was an interesting mix of the modern era and the soviet era. At times it was like being some eighties movie. Besides KFC (as seen in a previous post), I saw advertisements for Burger King. I visited a shopping center that contained shops such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. On my way to the Gandantegchinlen Monastery I walked through a ger (yurt) district. The area was dusty and clearly polluted. The city is simultaneously crumbling and rebuilding.
Mongolia is also going through some social upheaval. Economically the country isn’t in the best shape. Various forms of pollution have had an effect on how daily life is lived. Water is undrinkable. Although the air was mostly clear when I visited air pollution is a big problem. The mining industry has problems, not creating the financial boom it was expected to. While I was eating in a restaurant upstairs in a shopping center across from the government building there was a protest regarding the situation with the mining industry.
The protest seemed peaceful. After some speeches the people marched around the government building. You can’t actually see the building in this picture. The building is to the right, out of frame. The speakers at the protest are facing the building on a stage (to the left, also out of frame). It was interesting to watch the protest build as people joined the group.
I was unable to visit all of the museums and other sightseeing spots I had hoped to on my visit. I arrived on a holiday so places were closed. The second day of my trip was the day of the week most places are closed. This means I was unable to see any of the famous dinosaur bones. In the end I think I would like to visit Mongolia for a longer period of time in the future.