Ulaanbaatar Then And Now – Part 7

Scott Notes in 2000: It is now 6PM Saturday 15/7 and I am in my apartment sitting at my work desk in what can only be described as a sauna environment. The windows in the apartment are quite large and are double glazed, however there is only a small window at the middle top that can be opened. Although I have these windows open all the time the place remains humid & stuffy. I have just completed the day’s work, having started just past 8am this morning. The summer here is quite intense and energy draining given the altitude of UB (approx 1200 m) with average temperatures reaching 30C each day. Unfortunately there is no escape from the heat either as there is not one place in UB which has air conditioning due to the expense. Also the Mongtolians are terribly conscious of security, so all doors & windows are locked each night. As a consequence when I enter the office of a morning, after a 15 minute walk from my apartment, at around 8am and approx 1 hour before the client, the place is very, very stuffy, humid & hot. I am already perspiring heavily from the walk, and by the time I climb the 4 flights of stairs to the office, unlock it and enter you can hardly breathe it is so stuffy. I always immediately open the windows to get some fresh air in but rarely is there a breeze. It takes me about 30 more minutes before I stop perspiring, but I reckon in that time I lose about 2 litres of water through heavy perspiration. I have now taken the precaution of drinking 1 litre of water before I leave my apartment in the morning, try to drink another litre during the day before walking home. Another litre when I get home from work and another before I go to bed in the evening. Even today working at home I have consumed 3 litres of water so far. Never drank so much water in all of my life – even when I was in Darwin or the Middle East. Still I guess it will give my liver a good wash out. The other thing I guess is that I will miss this weather when the temperature starts to go below zero – something I am not looking forward to. Although I have experienced sub zero temperatures in Norway I have yet to experience minus 30C which is on the cards before I leave.

Thomo Notes in 2006: It is still warm in the summer here, around 30 degrees for a month or so. However, the heat is a dry heat, with humidity levels low. And I must admit that I arrived in UB in the spring time so had some time to adjust to the changing temperature as well as the 1316 metres above sea-level. The dry heat was quite pleasant, as was the change in lady’s fashion over the summer.

One reason for closing windows when out is the dust storms that come through from time-to-time, although mostly these seem to be in the spring time. A strong wind off the Gobi though and your windows open means a lot of cleaning later – and these storms can blow up at night. I remember my time in Korea and in April and May the skies over Korea are brown, and everyone’s car is covered with a fine dust. This is the Gobi Desert being blown across to North America each year.

Even my water consumption has increased in Mongolia. I think this is partly due to the fact that the relative humidity levels here are so low – generally around 60% and lower – and this leads the body to wanting a higher fluid intake.

Even now, in winter, with temperatures around -30 (see When Your Snot Freezes ) my water consumption is higher than in Australia.

Scott Notes in 2000: Have discovered a few more interesting restaurants during the past week. One was an Indian, approx 25 minute walk from home, another was a French African, approx 20 minute walk from home and surprise, surprise, a quite good Mexican less than 1 minute from home. In all of them I can at least get a reasonable serving of vegetables/salad with the main course. It just shows you how important a good social network is, as the above three restaurants had been recommended to me by people I had met previously at the UK Embassy. The Mongolians do not appear to be conscious of the power of advertising or of good location as each of the restaurants are located in obscure places and basically have no outside advertising. There is also no English newspaper in UB so the only way to find out about a reasonably good restaurant is through word of mouth. <a diagram of the location of the Mexican Restaurant was removed because I cannot work out how to put it inline in the blog>

Thomo Notes in 2006: The Indian Restaurant Scott mentioned was probably Hazara, which is still in Ulaanbaatar, located behind the wrestling centre. it is one of the best retaurants in town (and one of three main Indian Restaurants, the others being the Taj Mahal in the Bayangol Hotel and the Delhi Darbar (I think) in the Puma Hotel. I am not sure if the Hazara was named after the descendants of the Golden Horde still living in Afghanistan or not – I will try and find that out and report later.

I can only guess at the “French African” restaurant. This may be Millie’s that Scott is referring to. Millie’s is still around (near the UB Mart) and is also a really good spot for connecting with expatriates.

The Mexican is still around as well (although I think it is a mix of Mexican and Indian cuisine now).

There are two English Language newspapers – the Mongol Messenger and the UB Post – both appearing once a week – on the same day.

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