Posts Tagged With: Ulaanbaatar

July Comes to Mongolia

When we were visiting Mongolia for the first time last August, we met an expat who told us there are two seasons in Mongolia: winter and July. Well, July is here, and summer is in full swing. The photo above is one of many flower beds planted around the central city, and there are new benches and sidewalk paintings as well. More people are out selling things, too, not just at the little tables that are out almost all year round, but kiosks selling ice cream and camping gear — summer stuff.IMG_1266

Mongolia’s biggest national holiday, Naadam, starts at the end of next week. I’ll write more about that later, when we actually get to see some events; for now, it’s enough to say that this is the beginning of the national vacation, similar to Europe in August. Only our two most junior staff will be working after next week, and the poor dears will just be organizing the files and answering the phone (if it rings). There’s a giddiness in the office now, way more joking around than usual, and it feels like the last few days of the school year. The husband reports that many men in his government office have stopped wearing jackets and ties and started wearing short-sleeved shirts to work. One of them is even wearing a baseball cap in the office! Around here it’s all flowery sundresses, sandals and two-hour lunch breaks.

The other common sight/street hazard is rain puddles. Big ones. This time of year, it rains for a little while most days. Most of Mongolia’s precipitation happens in July and August, and average total rainfall for these two months is 161 mm/6.3 inches, which is not much but enough to stress the stormwater drainage system. The photo below shows a typical scene: three kiosks and a puddle that was at 2/3 capacity when I took the photo. People place rocks and bricks to step across, which is fine if you can creep along against the wall of a building. There’s NO WAY I’m going to risk stepping through the middle.


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Sunday Hike at Bogd Khaan, Ulaanbaatar

IMG_1216 Sunday morning at 8:00 seemed awfully early, especially after the lightest-latest night of the Summer Solstice and especially for a person such as myself who hikes only under ideal conditions. But off we went with a group of the husband’s coworkers, right outside Ulaanbaatar. One of the great things about the Mongolian landscape is the beauty so close to the city.IMG_1218 Stunning rock slides, formed by long-ago glaciers, and a spring, with water you can drink. IMG_1220 We reached the ridge after about an hour and half, and it was time to eat! IMG_1222 We were in a flat, open area, with other groups around us. For some reason, Mongolians like to climb up a hill, eat a bunch of food, then do group calisthenics before continuing on. Apparently, it’s a soviet thing.
IMG_1225We continued along the ridge, through woods filled with wildflowers.
IMG_1234Then the woods opened up to some serious drama.
IMG_1244On the way down, everyone took photos of each other.
IMG_1247Except me — I collected a big bunch of wild dandelion greens for cooking this week.

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“We are HAPPY from Mongolia”

Very fun video set to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” that will cheer you right up. AND you can see scenes from all over Ulaanbaatar.

I love this.

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Woke up to this view this morning, after rain all night. It was quite lovely, and the air had that good rain smell. Ulaanbaatar doesn’t get much rain or precipitation generally, and so tends to be dusty. This was a nice change, AND there’s snow on the hilltops.

On an unrelated note, I’m writing from a cafe this morning as there’s been no internet in our apartment since early yesterday.

Because the routers were stolen from the hallway outside our apartment. I had no idea that was a thing.

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What Would You Do for this Apartment?


Yes, this kitchen does come with a bunch of new stuff.

We’d almost definitely decided on an apartment to rent. I’d seen this one when we were here in August (that day when I got all optimistic about how nice the housing options are here) and saw it again last week when the agent said it was still available. It seemed just as good, so we arranged a time for Mr. High Standards to see it with me, the agent and the landlord’s brother, who’d let us in.

We spent an hour there, during which Mr. H.S. checked out all the things that I hadn’t — because why bother, if he wasn’t going to like it? — the electrical outlets, the functioning of the doors and windows, the water pressure in the showers. We asked why a nice place like that was still vacant, and the agent gave two reasons: 1) Because he’d been out of town a lot and hadn’t been showing it, and 2) Because the President owns it, and there wasn’t a lot of urgency for the rent money.

Really? The President of Mongolia owns this nice-but-not-exceptional apartment? And that guy who sat on the couch for an hour texting was his brother?

Mr. H.S. is working in government and was gleefully ready to check this information when he got back to work, but then the agent emailed last night to say that the place was already rented. Now, no place is as great as the one you didn’t get, but this one was spacious, had wood floors, lots of storage, a parking space in the building and is in a fun area, mere steps from two of Ulaanbaatar’s best grocery stores. (When it’s -30 out, those steps not walked matter A LOT.)

In our household when something doesn’t go our way, one of us pretty much always rolls over and caves, while the other never takes no for an answer.  So, Mr. H.S. — the one with the day job — went online to find alternatives, while I glumly started trying to picture us in a smaller place in some upscale expat neighborhood that I’d resent.

Mr. H.S. is also trying to find contact information for the agent who’d shown the good place to me last week. Because, what if that story about the President isn’t really true? What if there’s some other angle we can try?

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