Temple of Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara at Gandantegchinlen MonasteryUpon our arrival, we were picked up directly at the airport by the Hunnu Mongolia Shuttle Service and were driven to the apartment. In the capital Ulaanbaatar everything meets European standards. You can see no signs of nomadic life here but people have running hot water, electricity stoves, radiators or even air conditioning. Thus you will not have to miss anything you are used to from home.

Gandantegchinlen, Migjid Janraisig - Mongolian Buddhist monastery in the Mongolian capital of UlaanbaatarDepending on your flight connection and your time of arrival, you have to expect to have a jetlag on the first day and surely you cannot ignore the time zone difference. It would be good to sleep as much as possible on the plane so you don’t have to spend your first day necessarily in bed as the city has so much to offer. As exotic trips are usually planed under a tight schedule und one does want to see as much as possible, it is important to do a good preliminary planning. This way you will be able to invest precious time in actual sightseeing than wandering or haphazardly hang around.

Buddhism in Mongolia derives much of its recent characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages, but is distinct and presents its own unique characteristicsAfter a short rest we directly drove to the city using the Hunnu Mongolia Taxi Service. Our first stop was the Gandan Monastery (Gandantengchinlen), were our friend Lama D. Sukhbold works.

Sükhbaatar Square previously known as Chinggis SquareNot so far from there is the parliament that stands directly in the Sukhbaatar park and is a tourist attraction. The vast statues of Chinggis Khaan, Ögedei Khan and Kubilay Khaan alone are an eye-catcher. We had the luck that day to see local visitor groups from the outer provinces (aimags) of Mongolia shooting photos in front of the parliament building wearing traditional garments. I believe that most of us living in the western world think that time in Mongolia passes by really slowly or has even stopped und that Mongolian people walk around in their traditional garments like they did a hundred years ago. This is of course not the case as Mongols are using the advantages of modern life, especially in the capital. Nevertheless we were able to observe that, despite the infiltration of modern life, there are fortunately some traditional elements kept alive by the nomadic families.

Kumis, kumiss, koumiss, kumys, qymyz or airag is a fermented dairy product traditionally made from mare's milkIf this is a good thing or not it is up to the Mongols to decide. For us tourists it might be a bit disappointing not to see what was hoped for, as for example Mongols living persistent to their tradition, using no technology whatsoever and even light fires in a survival-way style. That might be a wishful thinking and it might even be found in small minorities as a tourist attraction, but reality shows that these people also have the right to make their hard lives a little bit more comfortable. We westerners can consider ourselves lucky if we are invited and allowed to take part in the hospitality of the native inhabitants of Mongolia.