Ulaanbaatar is reputedly the coldest (mean temp -2C) and one of the highest capital city in the world and will be my home for the next year. It’s a young city, first founded in 1639 as a Buddhist monastery, but not really a modern city. Skyscrapers are going up bu it is still a communist inspired city with apartment blocks, a great central square, but also a poor city, broken roads and pavements, dusty side streets and courtyards.
But it also has the dynamism of a capital city, and a reasonable cultural life ranging from to opera and ballet for £2.50, to a limited selection of films. There are innumerable restaurants, Mongolian, Chinese, Korean, American, Ukrainian where it is easy to eat well for less than £3.0.; the British embassy runs a bar in the embassy compound for a couple of hours on a Friday evening, and Dave’s bar is run by an englisman and has a quiz night on a Thursday evening. I have not ventured into the many night clubs and karaoke bars.
It is a small city, population about 1 million and it is possible to walk most places tho buses (all journeys 10p) and trolleybuses (5p) are quicker. The roads are congested, many 4 X 4s. and crossing the road is an adventure, a game of chicken waiting for cars to give way.
My flat is embarrassingly smart, by far the smartest of any of the volunteers living in UB. It is a brand new building, and I am on the top -10th floor with great views over the city. (It is the creamy orange building in photos, other pics taken from my window)Although Mongolia is a country of clear blue skies, the air in UB is heavily polluted, from power stations and low quality coal burnt in the many gers on the edge of town.