Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ulan Baator

This is an easy going city that seems like a good place to live. Hotels don't bother with all the big brother passport checking & recording as in Russia & China. If you've no local currency you can pay in US dollars & probably other currencies - but not Russian roubles.

The chaotic roads were explained as - 'people drive here like they ride horses - they go where you want when they want'.

A very noticable thing is all the English language signage like - the Mongolian Irish pub, the Cashmere warehouse, the Chicago Bar & Grill & most shops give a good clues as to what they are about. They use Latin script & not Cyrillic so working out where you are, getting around & buying stuff is less disorientating than in Russia.

I went to a music & folk evening at a large theatre house in the centre of town & expected to be a tad bored but it was absolutely fantastic. It was performed by the Mongolian National Song & Dance Academy who were stunning. The costumes were dazzling & the music & singing was traditional but also seemed to be modern.

You could imagine some of the dance moves on a slick London dance floor but with some Bollywood added in for good measure. The two man 8 foot long trumpets that marched in from the back of the auditorium had such a deep base sound that you could feel the sound rattling your insides. The 50 strong orchestra with dozens of traditional 1 & 2 string instruments were able to create as full a sound as a typical large European orchestra.

The only disappointment was the absence of a programme that might have given some interesting background detail. But in terms of the pleasure & the experience - it needed no props.

I stayed at the Bayangol hotel in the city centre, it wasnt anything special but I liked it; a really nice touch was giving guests a ready stamped postcard & they posted it for you - how great was that.

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