Early wake-up in the train at 5:45am. We arrive at 6:45am in Ulaanbaatar (aka UB).
The first Mongolian landscapes that we discovered are as we had imagined them.
For the first time we had booked a hostel, supposedly with shared bathroom. But they put us in an apartment for our family only, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Nice. The strange thing is that there is a girl staying full time in the apartment (“busy” the whole time on her phone); she sleeps on the sofa of the living room. Her main task is to cook breakfast for us in the morning.
We go and visit the Bogd Khan Winter Palace, a nice place with six temples. Enjoyable visit.
We are surprised by the number of big 4×4 cars in the city.
Good vegan lunch (at Luna Blanca). The whole family enjoyed. Life seems cheap in Mongolia: 50,000 tugrik, i.e. 17 Euro for a copious and healthy lunch.
I went to have a drink with a friend of my friend Michel: Bernard, a Belgian guy who has been living in Ulaanbaatar for 20 years. It is always nice (and interesting) to meet other Belgians abroad, especially on a nice terrace with a good beer. Nice discussion (and also good recommendations for our stay in UB). Isabelle joins us with the kids (who eventually woke up after a 3-hour nap…).
We go to one of the restaurants recommended by Bernard: Roosewood. Very good dinner: excellent salad for Isabelle and me, and pizza and spaghetti for the kids; everybody is happy! Everything for 30 Euro!
We came back around 11pm in our apartment.
The girl that permanently stays in the apartment prepares a breakfast for us (fried eggs).
Nice lunch in Green Zone, recommended by Bernard. Good salads and laid-back atmosphere.
We go to a 5-storey building where we can find everything related to mobile phones. We need to repair the iPad screen of Ludivine. They put a new screen in 30’, for 20 Euro; we also bought a new case (to try to protect it a bit better since it has a tendency to fall regularly…). Ludivine takes advantage to buy a small fan that you connect to your phone. When I told her that it will not cool her off that much she explained me the real function of such device: to give great effects (hair “in the wind”) for selfies… How did I not figure that out myself…?
We then go to the big State Department store. Firstly to the last floor for ‘souvenirs’ (the magnets collection of the kids…) and then to the supermarket on the first floor when we spent nearly one hour to buy food in anticipation of our 2-week trip in the North of the country, to the Tsaatans tribe (reindeers herders).
We got the first (small) problem in the organization of our trip, with the train ticket UB – Beijing. I got an email from Frédérique (from Est’Capade, the agency organizing our Trans-Mongolian trip) informing us that she failed to get the UB – Beijing train tickets as per the programme (i.e. on 31/08). The first available tickets are in 02/09. And there’s no train availability on 30/08 either. She is sorry. We basically have 3 options: 1) leave by train on 02/09; 2) leave by plane as scheduled on 31/08 or 3) leave by train on 29/08. We haven’t seen much of the city so we think half day in UB will be too short. We also would prefer to do the whole “mythic” Moscow – Beijing Trans-Mongolian train (it would be a bit “sad” to do a major part by air). So we decide to ask her to book the train on 02/09. It means 2 days less in Beijing (but also 2 more days in UB, where I’m sure we’ll be happy to rest after our trip to the Taaatans). The good news is that Frédérique informed us that the trip UB – Beijing will be in first class. Another (nice) experience!
Preparation of bags for the trip to the Tsaatans.
In the evening, we walk along the Seoul Street, full of restaurants. There are a lot of Korean restaurants (many Mongols go and work in Seoul and when they are back in UB they apparently miss the Korean food, which is something I cannot really understand…). We go to the California restaurant. Not great.