Traffic Jams, Pollution - an Asian Capital

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Ulaanbaatar, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Ulan Batar, or perhaps Ulaanbaatar, depending on which atlas you read, is the capital of Mongolia. The country has a population of 3 million of which one million live in the capital most of whom are currently stuck in a traffic jam. There seems to have been a sudden increase in disposable income and insufficient road capacity to cater for all the cars. They don't have a metro system so chaos reigns.
Mongolians nominally drive on the right but half of the cars are imported second hand Japanese cars which are left hand drive . By far the most popular model is the Toyota Prius, the only explanation our guide gave was because petrol "is so expensive in Mongolia", it's about 75p a litre so there must be some other tax break either here or in Japan that makes the Prius so popular.

This is the first time on a holiday we have used a guide for anything more than just a tour of one site. In Africa and India where using a guide is the norm we avoided having an extra person on holiday with us; but for reasons we can't remember other than laziness, we have a guide for our three days in the Mongolia. She is nice enough but we abandoned her after lunch today, the traffic was bad, we were not keen on the planned programme so we just said "see you tonight, we will do or own thing his afternoon" and got out of the car. I think she was pleased to have the afternoon off. We also managed to claim tiredness to avoid the folk music planned for the evening and again she was happy to get home for an early night after she had taken us to a very nice local restaurant.

This morning we did a monastery, picture attached, quite nice but completely surrounded by urban sprawl and none of the buildings were particularly old or unusual. Still it is good to see that they have religious freedom and it was noticeable that there were a wide range of devotees in the temple, all ages and from their dress, all social types.

Gill tells me the above is a bit negative, perhaps my grumpy side is showing it's face, we have had a good day and it is interesting to be in a country and culture so very different from our own.

Tomorrow we go camping in the National Park, apparently there is no WiFi in a yurt so we will not be reporting back until Wednesday at the earliest.
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2018-11-22