After I visit Mongolia in the countryside, I had a couple of days in the capital again to regroup and get ready for the next part of my Trans European and Trans Asian adventure.
I need a drink
No gin & tonic
After returning to the city of Ulan Bator, I went to the Los Angeles Lounge for dinner. It’s a rather expensive place, but I was in need of some western food. The waiter handed me the menu, and I immediately ordered my gin & tonic. When he told me it wasn’t available, I did not immediately understand, since I had it here before. His English and my Mongolian weren’t sufficient to explain to me why. I had a juice.
A drinking issue in Mongolia
The lounge had wifi, so I went online to see what the issue with the drinks was. And after a bit of searching, I found that Mongolia has organized an alcohol-free day every month. When you visit Mongolia on the first day of the month, keep in mind that you will not be able to buy alcohol. It’s not served in the restaurants, and in the shops, the beer and liquor parts are covered with sheets or alike. This is the reaction of the government to a large-scale alcoholic problem in Mongolia: The last data I could find here, show that 22% (1 in 5) of Mongolian men is dependent on alcohol, 3 times as much as the European average…
Traffic in Mongolia
When you visit Mongolia, it’s dangerous at first sight when you look at the traffic. The success of the Toyota Prius however, brings a second issue: the silent killer. In a noisy city like the capital of Mongolia, the hearing is part of what keeps us alive: you watch out for the noise. The Prius however is a silent car. Many people don’t hear it coming or moving and cross the street in front of it. In no other city where I was before did I witness this as much as here.
Can’t hide being a foreigner
After traveling Western Europe, the Baltic States, and Russia, when I visit Mongolia it is the first time that I can’t even believe I’m not standing out of the crowd. So no way in hiding me being a tourist here. That results in prices being jacked up a bit when I ask for something. Having a local guide pays back partially in avoiding the “tourist tax” that many shop owners and salespeople will add for you…
Visit Mongolia: Nomad Central
Visibly being a foreigner facilitates the way foreigners and travelers can make contact. The local and western coffee bars attract more backpacks than many outdoor stores. The outrageous price of $3 for a latte is compensated by the certainty you’ll have a conversation with another traveler or digital nomad on their visit to Mongolia.
Break & regroup
I was now on this trip for a full month. # kilometer traveled, ad I finished 3 of the 4 planned interviews for a client project along the way. So staying here now gave me the time to start thinking about the final storylines for the video report that should be one of the deliverables, and to give the first structure to the book I was making about this trip for a client.
Ulan Bator was a great place to get some work done, and to make some cool connections with fellow travelers. From HR consultants such as Paul to amazing circus artists such as Leah. Uniques connections with incredible people who have unseen adventures. The “Visit Mongolia”-stop proved to be very inspirational.
And on the road again
Before I knew it, it was time to head for the railway station. Visit Mongolia came to an end, and it was time to hit the Trans Siberian Railroad once more. My last AirBnB host had arranged for a car to get me to the train.
I left Mongolia with some great impressions and some mixed feelings.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.