My #businesstrip to #Ulaanbaatar #Mongolia

By | December 7, 2018

Working for a multinational company that implements payment systems across the world has its ups and downs. Traveling to new and strange places which are not usually on ones travel wish list is one of the ups.  This is just my opinion, I know people for which having to travel to strange places is a downer. 

People always asked me to document my business trips and show them the remote places where I got to travel from my perspective. Obviously it will be different than any touristic guide or travel channel view 🙂

So here we go: Mongolia. Business Trip 25/11/2018 – 02/12/2018

Zaisan Monument

 

How to get there :

Going to Mongolia is not an easy task, there not so many international airlines that connect to Ulaanbaatar the capital of Mongolia.

I ended up going on a north route and coming back on a south route.

Inbound flight: Cluj-Napoca -> Munich -> Berlin -> Moskow -> Ulaanbaatar

Return flight: Ulaanbaatar -> Biskek -> Istambul -> Buchares-> Cluj-Napoca

As you may guess is a hell of a long trip almost one full day on the inbound trip and some 30 hours on the return trip. I have to give a special notice to the wonderful entertainment system on board of the MIAT flight (Berlin-Moskow-Ulaanbaatar). It is the most Zen and meditative system I have ever seen on an 11 hour flight 🙂

First thing you notice when you arrive in Ulaanbaatar is that the months of November and December are NOT the best time to decide to visit Mongolia.

The weather was “wonderful”, very dry air with temperatures bellow -20 Celsius with a very polluted air.  You had the feeling you are next to a burning forest, the smell of smoke was present all the time. Even after I return to Cluj my backpack smelled like it was placed for one week in a meat smoke house.

Lodging:

One of the advantages of being a business trip is that I am not the one paying for the hotel 🙂 The location I got to stay was Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar. Always a very nice location, I was a frequent traveler with the Shangri-La network when I used to travel a lot to Maldives (that was a completely different experience).

The standard room looks like :

Of course the view from my room was over a very eerie frozen amusement park. Lot’s of my coworkers jokingly asking me if it was still open for business. 

 

The amusement park at -20 Celsius 

First day in there was a national holiday so we got to move around the city for a bit. Rest of the days I had the standard business traveler day: meetings the whole day with late afternoon stay in the office (9 p.m.), you know the “standard day” of a business traveler that has to sort out lot’s of stuff with the client in a short time frame. 

The fact that was cold and windy and polluted made the day a short one.

Standard gear to go to the bank each morning 🙂 Not the most “not suspicious” equipment. 

Not to forget to mention the central figure of Mongolia “Genghis Khan” he is present everywhere, even guarding the  entrance to the parliament.

A traveler may notice also that they still have a lot of socialist monuments remaining glorifying the “great friendship” with Soviet Russia, you know the typical: We give you our resources and you give us military bases with soviet soldiers 🙂

This tank visited Berlin in ’45

If you are a fan of abstract Soviet art this is the place to go

  Food:

Traditionally people here eat lots of meat and lost of fat food. This is expected if you are a nomadic people at heart and you are faced with harsh winters.

Not for the weak stomach: Horse meat file, Horse intestines, mutton soup and not in the picture mare fermented milk.
Obvious name of the local beer

Old city:

Not a lot of the old city if visible as the traditional houses are the Mongolian round tents but you can still see the old Buddhist temple (such a pity is in a bad shape)

The old Buddhist temple is just across the street from Shangri-La Hotel. One who knows something about the Buddhist tradition knows that this is not a coincidence 🙂

To conclude:

  • do not visit Mongolia during winter if you are not a fan of dry and very cold weather. I am still sick like a dog one weak after returning with a sore throat.
  • it is a remote place with a strange mix of European and Asian influence.
  • very popular are Italian and Korean restaurants.
  • did I mention they have a RTP (instant payment system) they are upgrading ? So they are quite developed in the area of payment systems.
  •  
Mongolian bill with QR code for instant payments through mobile banking

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