Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The ugliest city in the world and the coolest hostel ever

We're in Mongolia! We still can't believe it but we are :) And we love it! No doubts about it. We needed about 10 minutes to fall in love with this country and something tells me it will stay this way.

I also decided to stop reading any information about custom regulations and border crossing as they all seem useless. All they do is make you worry about things you would never worry about otherwise. And in 99% of the cases you find out there was nothing to worry about. I have no idea where they all get their information from, but according to those guys everything is much more complicated than it actually is. We read some funny parts about having to register your car before entering Mongolia or leaving a deposit at the border which you may never be able to get back... Strange enough no one in Mongolia ever heard about it and all they wanted from us was to show the registration document for our car (the international ones were not required, only the German ones). We also read that Russian officers will ask us for the hotel registrations and that we should be able to tell where we were on particular days. Well, no one asked us about anything. All went smoothly and without any extra questions or issues.

We decided to drive directly to Ulaanbaatar to meet up with Gerrit and I loved every minute of this ride. The landscapes were amazing, all green and absolutely beautiful. And there were animals running freely all over the place. The first hour after the borders I already saw all the animals I wanted to spot here, camels, yak, those beautiful Mongolian horses and million of cows and sheep in every color and shape. This country is like one huge safari. The whole picture seemed too good to be true and I really can't wait to explore the rest.

Unfortunately we are stuck in the capital for a few days, since we have to sort out our visas for the next country borders. I won't lie to you, Ulaanbaatar isn't pretty. To be really honest it's the ugliest city I have ever seen and I have seen a few in my life. It's a total mess! For a start they hardly have asphalt on the streets and when they do, the wholes in it are bigger than the cars. And the whole city is covered with dust, so that after 10 minutes walk your feet are totally black and you are struggling for breath. And the drivers... I thought we have seen it all in Russia, but I was clearly mistaken. It's the first place where we decided to leave the car on guarded parking and use taxis instead. It just wasn't worth the stress. Not to mention risking our beloved Karossi on those gigantic holes. Don't get me wrong, there are a few nice places in the city, it's just that if you consider you'd have to get to the center to see them, you immediately loose your interest. We at least have our visas that keep us going there, doing some sightseeing on the way, cause most people we met here have never really seen the city center at all. And I can't blame them! We have so far seen a very nice palace of the Bogd Khan (right next to Kazakh embassy) and a great performance of traditional Mongolian music and dance styles in the national theater (near to the Russian embassy we had to visit as well). And we couldn't miss the ridiculously huge statue of the Chinggis Khaan outside the city. But well, let's hope our visas will go quickly and we'll be able to leave this chaos as soon as possible. I really can't wait to see the nicer regions as this city has really not much to offer!

But there is one good thing about it. We got stuck in the coolest hostel we have seen so far. Small camping site with a little garden that makes you forget how the city outside the fence looks like. Oasis Guesthouse is a place where all the overland travelers meet to exchange their stories and experiences and it's a great place with a wonderful familiar atmosphere! Good food and even better company, so that many people actually find it hard to leave. We could do the washing, check the car again, get some tips for the further journey and we enjoy each minute of our stay, since we keep meeting incredible people with even more incredible stories and plans.

And it seems that we will have a little change of plans. We were planning to visit Kazakhstan and then go directly to Uzbekistan, but more and more people were telling us how beautiful Kyrgyzstan was and that we simply can't miss it if we're already here anyway. We were still not convinced, as we are on a pretty tight schedule and we knew the visa was a bit costly. But then a nice surprise came, it turned out that starting August 2012 we no longer need any visa for this country. We decided we can't miss such opportunity and are planning to add Kyrgyzstan to our route. Hope it works!

But first we're planning to do some off-road driving to the western part of Mongolia. I'm sure it will be awesome and hope our Karossi will survive the Mongolian roads...


  1. You're right I would love it. And we're talking countryside here not the city:) The colour of the grass is emerald! How ia that possible? Have fun my lovely and may Karossi fly over the holes (not literally of course:)) xxx

  2. Hey David, honestly, i am jealous reading your posts :) its wonderful to read your experiences and lovely to see the photoes. Enjoy your journey..its a lifetime call of universe for you.. here, in ittersbach nothing much has changed life is just on.. i am also heading towards cypruss and Turkey for couple of weeks starting this sunday..
    keep posting.. and have fun..
    Datta Hegde