Mongolia used to be a communist country under the sphere of influence of Russia. It is also a cold country most of the time (warm people, cold weather). As a result, everywhere is centrally heated. I guess, due to its past, the heating of homes in Ulaanbaatar was done through big centralised boilers and hot water distribution systems. So, for example, your apartment does not have a water heater. Your building does not have a water heater. Somewhere nearby is a big boiler (if I can find one I will add a photo here I found the photo – it’s above here). This big boiler supplies the hot water for the central heating to many of the buildings in the area. This is why EVERYBODY‘s Central Heating goes off on 15 May each year and why EVERYBODY‘s Central Heating comes on on 15 September each year, regardless of the temperature.This boiler also supplies the hot water for showers, washing and so on to the apartment.
Because it is so cold in winter, the Mongolians want to make sure that the boilers work for the full winter so they service them in the summer.
They are servicing the one that supplies my apartment building now – this is day number three without hot water. So whilst I would give a kingdom for a shower, it is not quite correct. I would give my kingdom for a hot shower :-((
At least I can feel moderately confident of feeling hot most of the winter.
One of the things in short supply on the Steppe is water. There are a few rivers passing through, and if you are lucky, there may be a subterranean bore handy, all providing water. This water is generally carried by hand to the gers (round felt houses – like yurts) of the local population. In the Soums (small towns and villages) of Mongolia where there are no hotels or motels some accommodation can normally be found in the government buildings. In some of the more popular areas of Mongolia you will find tourist camps. Again, these may not have a large supply of water so cleaning facilities will usually consist of a bowl and some water (and very little water at that – and that supply only in a trickle). Being Australian, I like a shower. I like to be well cleaned. Going a few days without from necessity is not a great trial, but at the first available opportunity to take a shower, then a shower I will take.