A Week In The City
Today marked the 6th day I stayed in Ulaanbaatar. Had to settle a few things, like visa extension, necessary camping equipments and getting the Mongolian Tughrik. It was quite difficult for me to get used to the weather here now, don’t know why. Coming from the hot 34c temperature in Kuala Lumpur all the way to the subzero temperature in Ulaanbaatar in less than 24 hours is a bit too much for me. And since I got here 6 days ago, I can pronounce only about 10 Mongolian words. I wanted to say that the language is difficult, but then again, I still remember how I was struggling learning Mandarin when I was in China, I was complaining about the 4 tones… and complaining about how difficult to pronounce Russian words when I was in the Stans countries. So I guess its just me, I’m just bad in learning languages… or too lazy perhaps?… since I hate repeating.
I now have a Mongolian brother and sister, Chimedee and her brother Tug, who were kind enough to let me to sleep inside their ger near the city. Now I’m tasting the hospitality of the Genghis Khan’s descendent. They’re very nice to me, giving me a shelter while Im here in Ulaanbaatar, letting me to taste their traditional food and scaring me off from cycling through the Gobi Desert. Well, most people that I met, I could see their faces changed when I told them that I plan to cross the Gobi Desert on my bicycle to get to Erenhot. And all of them told me that it is impossible. Imkinda used to it already, I still remember a Swedish from the south were telling me that only a stupid guy will cycle in the Arctic Tundra in the middle of winter…. and I did it anyway.
Ulaanbaatar is a lot like Bishkek, the environment, the colours, the people. And the smell is more like Xinjiang of China. But I can feel that the energy is so positive here. People here smile a lot! And they’re so friendly! And the police are really polite. I was expecting the police here to be as bad as those in the Stans countries, where most of them get infection from 2 things, uniform and vodka. But over here, things are totally different. I was lost a few nights ago, couldn’t remember how to get back home, and a police walked with me until I found my way home. And most people here don’t speak English, whenever I asked a question in English, they will reply in Mongolian… so I replied back in Malay :) But of course, the best solution is the sign language, works everywhere.
And after spending so many days in the dusty Ulaanbaatar, I finally got the chance to hike to a nearby hill with my host Chimedee. She usually hikes to a nearby hill with her friends every weekend. From there I made 2 more friends from Europe, a Spanish and a British who were in the same group. Both of them are teaching in a university here in Ulaanbaatar. Also there were another at least 15 other Mongolians in the group. We started early in the morning with a pretty nice weather, but when we stopped for lunch, the weather changed from spring into deep winter in just a few minutes. But it was a good experience for me to prepare myself with the so called spring season in Mongolia, where there can be all 4 season in a day.