Monday, November 03, 2008

Mongolia : Day 3

We awoke, bright and early, after a wonderfully long sleep. Although, Justin had to get his earplugs out in the middle of the night because I was snoring really loudly. Normally I just snore loudly, but since I was still getting over a cold, I was especially noisy. M claims she couldn't hear a thing.

As usual, the first order of business once we got out the door was to eat. We checked The Book and headed down the street to Chez Bernard, which was supposed to serve a decent western breakfast. Ordering was an exciting experience, since the waitress couldn't speak any of the languages we spoke. Justin tried to ask her a question about one of the items on the menu, only to accidentally order it and have it show up at our table a few minutes later. Luckily, it was something we wanted. The food was decent, albeit a bit pricier than Beijing's western food. Next, we had to buy our return tickets home. It took us a while to find the international train ticket office, and when we did, we discovered a strange peculiarity of Mongolian architecture. Many buildings will have their back doors face the main street and place their main entrances around back along what usually appears to be a random alley. All of the cheap tickets were sold out, so we had a little adventure going to the bank to exchange some more money.

Once we got our tickets squared away, we figured we'd head over to the Natural History Museum to check out some famous dinosaur bones. At first we had some problems hailing a cab, so I did a little Taxi Dance to summon a cabbie. The first driver decided he didn't want to read the address in The Book and instead flipped to the giant map of Mongolia in the back. "No no, what's going on here? This won't do," Justin exclaimed as we aborted and hopped out of the car. It was here that we realized that the incredible lack of official taxis in Ulaan Baatar was not because it lacked taxis. If you just wave your hand on a corner, some random car will stop for you and offer to take you there for the standard rate. It's a bit unnerving at first, but you get used to it. Unfortunately, we didn't check The Book very closely, as the museum is closed on Mondays. We stood outside, alternately shaking our fists at the museum and scratching our heads, then decided to head to the Black Market. Hey, it's not what you think! The Black Market is basically a flea market on steroids. We took a long stroll around the place and saw just about anything one could want for sale. We ended up with 2 pairs of sweats labeled "Russia", one knit hat, and one soccer ball.

Once we were done with the Black Market, it was time to eat again! So we hopped in a cab and tried to head back into the main part of town. A couple minutes into the ride, I noticed that the cab driver's gas light was on. A couple minutes later, we were on the side of the road and the car wouldn't start. The driver got out, said a few unintelligible Mongolian words to us, and ran away with a small jug in hand. We toyed with the idea of getting out, but decided it'd be too much trouble to explain where we were going to the next driver. That and the fact that Justin's door didn't have a handle. The driver was struggling to find the place, so finally we gave up and decided to find it on foot. The three of us agreed that we'd rather not be there when the couple liters he'd just added ran out on him.

As we were walking, it became clear to us that the restaurant was actually next door to Modern Nomads, where we'd eaten the day before, so we strolled back toward familiar territory. On the way, we passed the Chinggis beer brewey, and decided to try our luck at an uninvited tour. As luck would have it, the kind folks at Chinggis Beer gave us a splendid tour, replete with a hearty toast with the German Brewmaster. All in all, it was a pleasant surprise, and we left the brewery grateful for our struggling cab driver's ineptitude.
From Beijing Dou

After we left the brewery, we crossed the street to take a picture of the sign, and noticed a sign advertising Haribo candies. We couldn't resist, so we scurried into the mall in search of Haribo. A couple packs of Sour Dinosaurs and German Raspberries later, we were ready for dinner. We finally found the restaurant and headed inside. It was a Korean restaurant with an Japanese Teppanyaki buffet, decorated somewhere in between a ski lodge and a hunting lodge. Justin caught us marvelling at the decor.

After dinner, we bought some groceries for our excursion, and then headed home. Curious about the bar/cafe on the ground floor of the building we were staying in, we stopped by, and were pleasantly surprised by the performances of one Mongolian lounge singer and one Mongolian jazz pianist. They were both quite talented; it was extremely surreal. Things were getting late, though, so we didn't stay long, quickly heading upstairs to pack and sleep.

All in all, it was a strange day with a few unexpected twists. But the next few days in a Mongolian National Park promised to be even more of an adventure...

1 comment:

Shellcomber said...

wow, that sounds so cool! private brewery tour and mongolian performance!