We arrived in Mongolia at 6 in the morning, way before anyone or anything was open. We hitched a ride with Judith and Markus as they had a driver waiting for them. The driver spoke Mongolian, English and German! He also drove a nice car (A Lexus). After the two second trip to drop them off, he brought us in town to a cafe that opened at 7. Tom and him chatted for the brief trip, him telling us about how Mongolia is the richest and poorest country. Rich in resources because when the US dollar is low, they can buy nice clothes, cars, and appliances since they can make lots of money. Poor because so many families are not well educated and that there is still some anger in the people from their past. We didn't really experience the anger directly, thankfully, but we did see a brief outburst. Also, we were told by multiple people that we shouldn't go out late at night because it was dangerous.
This became our first couch surfing experience as well! We stayed with Alex and Matt; Alex having grown up in MA so she knew Vt, and Matt was from England. When we met them 2 hours later (the cafe had Internet, something we had been without for a week) so we got to emailing and facebooking. Tom and I chatted with a business man from Indiana who was visiting a firm about public policy on freedom of press. His meeting had been rescheduled with a Mongolian diplomat so he was drinking coffee and waiting. He recognized my American accent and started chatting. It was a nice way to spend the time while we were waiting.
Once they got there, Alex asked if we minded dogs. Obviously, we don't, so saying so she informed us that they were dog sitting their friends puppy, Mongol. She was sooooo cute! I wish I had taken a picture but when I thought to, my iPod was dead and she was about to leave with her owner. But she was a fat beast- her owner feeding her bread and sausages- that looked like a fluffy German Shepard / buramese mountain dog with floppy ears.
The first bit of the day was relaxing, Tom and I got to sort our stuff and shower while Alex and Matt were out and we watched the puppy. Then when they came back, Tom and I walked into the main part of town and to the square. It was open and had large bronze statues of old kings (Huns). We later went to the natural history museum, which was really sad and the the best part was the giant t-Rex fossil statue they had and the Dino eggs. Was it worth the 6 bucks? Kinda. Would I go back? Only to help them upgrade and better translate their English.
We also went to a large indoor food market with Alex later in the day. It smelled like rotten yogurt (which we got to try those delicases later) and explored. After stopping at the state department store (like a mark &spencers or a super target with food, clothes, electronics etc) and picking up some food for dinner, Tom and I wanted to find a place where we could have a traditional yurt tour, preferably with horseback riding. Alex told us that the UB Guesthouse was next door and we could probably set one up with tem. Low an behold we did!! A 1/day/night tour, staying in a yurt, 3 meals AND with 2 hours of horseback riding for $50 bucks each! we signed up right away.
We went back and helped Alex with dinner and played with the puppy. Matt came back from work for a quick dinner before having to go back again. We hung out after dinner, playing with the dog and using the Internet and when Matt got back home, we had some desserts and went to bed. Tom and I had our ride at 9 the next morning an wanted to be prepared.
And by 9 I mean we had someone knock at the door at 7am to tell us the car was at 8 but if we wanted to have breakfast downstairs, it was ok....