What an amazing city with such a wonderful history! Moved 17 times since it was established, the capital is home to around half the countries' population.
Yesterday when we got in we went for Mongolian BBQ for lunch, followed by a walk to a hill in town where they have built a monument to all the unnamed soldiers who have died serving the country and what a lookout it was from the top. 650 stairs to climb in a windy minus 20 was actually quite offensive to the extremities of the body, however the view was worth it and I also learnt that if you have a runny nose (as is often the case for me in this weather) your snot can freeze on inhalation!
We then went for a wander through town, I purchased a super cosy (faux) fur hat and then went back to the hostel to thaw out in the classy looking 1990's Madonna inspired lounge bar. Following this was pizza for dinner at Mario's, laying claim not only to the title of best pizza in town (it was actually pretty good) but also the fact they run a strip joint upstairs - this is the only pizza place I have ever been that had a bouncer on the door!
On the stroll home we were distracted by the alluring warmth of a karaoke bar and hired a private room for 2 hours, belting out amazing renditions of all your classics from Oasis to Bon Jovi to John Cougar and many more... Only mid way through did we realise the name of the place was KumYoung.Com!
All in all a great day and night in this beautiful aspirational and mildly cosmopolitan city (as much as you call a city with a Kenny Rogers fried chicken joint cosmopolitan!) Ulaan Baatar and it's people seem to be trying so hard to catch up to the rest of the world, yet are holding onto their traditions as they go (a contrast to the almost sellout Beijing). Looking out over the city you can see apartment buildings side by side with Ger tents...
The average 2 bed apartment in town will set you back US$40,000 but contrast that against the average wage of only US$270 per month.