Mongolia-a whole lot of bugger all

Ok, well maybe the title is a bit harsh, but that was our first impressions (which lasted 3 days continuously) as we left Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia, in a 4WD minivan with our driver, Tiger, for an 8 day tour.

Ulaan Baatar itself is actually a fairly modern city. This was quite a surprise after coming from Beijing. There is international restaurants, people that speak English and/or Russian and people dress fashionably (no, not like Curly, real fashion – high heels, dresses and matching colours – that sort of thing). Our first Mongolian was Indra, from the train ride from China. She showed us around for a day and we had lunch at an expensive place with her friends, who seemed to be TV presenters and semi-famous people. Generally we found Mongolians to be very friendly and not seem to try to rip us off as much as Chinese. Every car in UB is a taxi, you simply stick out your hand and someone stops. The going rate is 500T/km ($0.40/km), but not sure how it’s measured. All I can say is that the system works! Even if an old lady with a fart box of a car stops to pick up 2 of you with 6 bags.
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