The receptionist didn't speak any English and seemed to consider the arrival of a guest who spoke neither Russian or Mongolian, outrageous, if not something to be actively discouraged.
At the end of a long corridor, covered with threadbare, red carpet, I reached Room 315, where I fell into a fitful sleep, staring at a long, dingy brown stain on the wall and listening to a pneumatic drill at the construction site located conveniently outside my window. I awoke several hours later with a headache and a bad taste in my mouth. My needs were basic: food and water.
I returned to the reception desk; it was deserted. There was an eerily large dining hall; it was also deserted. I wandered around forlornly, calling out, "Hello. Is anybody there?"
I located the kitchen door and entered groaning, "Food." A stout woman in a blood-spattered apron tried to shoo me away. A younger woman emerged at her elbow. She had a friendly face. I rubbed my stomach and clutched my clawed fingers to my mouth. The two women started arguing.
The result was that I returned to my room with a bottle of something brown, sweet and fizzy, two slices of stale bread and and some lukewarm chunks of fatty mutton, like a mouse scurrying back to his bolt-hole. The pneuamatic drill fell silent.
I awoke again briefly to the sound of a group of men, shouting next door, but my head was too heavy to lift until six hours later, when a black, Bakelite telephone, of the sort that I had seen in 1940s detective films, started ringing.
I dressed and headed, with some trepidation, downstairs to the dining hall again. It reminded me of a school assembly hall. There was such a high ceiling that the place had a slight echo. Tables were laid with grubby white tablecloths for about one hundred people. That morning there were two other customers apart from myself.
After about ten minutes, I started to grow a little restless. There was no sign of any food....
To be fair this was way back in the 90s and I expect that the place has improved a lot since then.
Based on local advice we traveled to the lakeshore of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur only to find the Khorgo 2 ger camp closed for the season and the gers removed. Bummer! Our driver pushed on to some private gers further up the lakeshore that had space for rent, but it wasn't what we were looking for in terms of privacy and comfort this time.
We therefore backtracked to the Khorgo 1 ger camp in the Zurkh Gol valley and booked in for 12 USD/night per person, considerable less than the list price of the Tsolmon Travel company that runs it.
Some 20 gers arranged in a broad valley. Nearby scattered larch forests, hills and mountains (beyond 3000 meters), easily accessible day hikes, horse riding opportunity, view toward the Khorgo Uul volcano (2 kms), close to the lake (3-4 kms).
The food was good, an international twist to Mongolian raw materials. The only place where I have been served fish.
Separate washing/shower /toilet facility with warm water.
We stayed in four different hotels as we travelled the country, one night in each. The quality didn't really change much from town to town, they were extremely basic and most had one thing in common, if it's too early in the tourist season you either get just cold water or cold water only at a certain time of day.
The hotel is Tsetserleg is the main picture, conventiently placed beside Fairfield restaurant. It had a small bathroom with a shower, not that I wanted a cold shower as it was freezing outside and we were using a space heater in the room. We were a little leery of the heater as it had bare wires plugged into the same socket as the TV. This building housed the Neptune Club which is where we got our evening meal. There was also a graduation party going on and we could hear the music from our room.
In Arvaaikheer we ended up at a large room in what looked like a very political builiding, pictures of whom we assumed were political leaders were in the hallway. Right nearby was a bar which served excellent meals though I don't remember the name, it was only a door or two to the left as you exited.
In Dalanzadgad we looked at two hotels and chose the latter, they were opposite each other. We had two rooms, one with a table and tv and the other had the two twin beds. This was the only hotel where we had hot water so it was great for us as we were able to shower. The only problem is we found ticks on the walls, though they might have come in on our stuff as we had just been at Yolyn Am and my friend had found a tick on him as we were leaving. We kept getting up for tick killing duty. A bar was around the side of the hotel and this is where we had a our meal, quite good and quite inexpensive.
Can't say there were any outstanding characteristics, they were all very basic and pretty inexpensive. We were just glad to have a bathroom with a toilet and privacy to be able to change our clothes.
I don't have the names of the hotels, but the towns weren't large so you could just drive around and find them, just remember what they look like from my pics, or possibly you can understand the writing on the signs, I couldn't. The Dalanzadgad hotel was near the bank and post office, around the corner from the post office.
The hotel in Sainshand was much more expensive and cleaner. This is a bigger city though so to be expected. Don't have a photo of it, sorry. We had military people staying in rooms near us.
in Khujirt, a small pleasant town known of its mineral hot springs, we stayed in a ger camp. The camp is situated in the middle of the town. There are sanitary blocks with toilets, showers and hot running water.
We took our meals in the restaurant of the hotel nextdoor, with a weird ger-style decor.
At night there were a lot of dogs around at the camp. When I went to the toilet in the middle of the night a group of barking dogs approached me in the dark, it was a bit scaring. I could close the door of the toilet in time. On my way back to the ger I was lucky, only one dog followed me as a friend, scratching at the door of the ger and yelping.
In Khujirt we stayed in the ger camp in town.
The interior of the ger is very spacious, what you didn't expect from the outside.
I shared the ger with three other fellow travellers. There were four beds along the sides, colourfully painted in red and blue.
In the middle was a stove, decorated in black and white. A low orange table with four low lovely stools. Also the wooden poles were orange, the colour of the sun.
The stay in the ger was special, but also very comfortable.
When sleeping in a ger, you will most probably end up on the floor - ground - as the family beds tend to be occupied by several people already and the smoke from the stove may even force you down.
It may be dusty (ok), noisy (ok) and dirty (even that's quite ok), but worse;
it will be cold and hard, and drafty. At the outer edge of the ger's inside there is always a cold draft.
So bring a sufficiently warm sleeping bag, or a thinner one with a fleece or silk liner, and a socalled self-inflating mattress. If you have a protective outer bag for your sleeping bag you'll be really snug and your sleeping quarters will remain clean.
Bring earplugs for an undisturbed sleep.
No pool, no view, but what warmth and hospitality in those gers!
small rooms with bunks, centrally located. Very helpful staff, a korean man and his mongolian wife and some early morning, late night staff members.
Owner knows almost every peace corp volunteer in Mongolia, and many other foreign workers, good places to visit while staying there.
So many Peace corp staff stay here on their free time in UB, they can provide info on interesting things to see and small places off the map to visit.
Weird place, the newest and flashiest in town. The architecture is taken from a Las Vegas postcard and scaled down. Quite popular with locals and travellers, so book ahead or ensure that you're not coming very late in the evening and find no room available... Service was so-so, but we were later told that the person assisting us was fired for incompetence...
The restaurant prepared our fish that we caught ourselves for us - very tasty! The restaurant had a big menu and a good kitchen. Room service if you ask carefully.
Quite cold at night, so some sort of extra bedding is a good idea; a light sleeping bag or liner.
Hot water for about an hour in the evening and morning.
Of course you must try staying in a Mongolian Ger when you are in Mongolia ! This is truely a very good and interesting experience. The ger is actually quite warm inside with the firewood heating system although it may be cold outside. Once you are outside Ulaanbaatar, there are very limited accomodation in buildings and you have to stay in gers anyway. There are various tourist ger camps, especially in popular places such as Karakorum, Bayangobi and Gorkhi Terelj National Park.
Ger camps is a common way for travel agencies and guides to accomodate tourists/visitors. The ger is normally quite comfortable, but can be smoky, drafty and cold, so come prepared.
In the centre of the ger are two to four pillars supporting the ger roof which holds the canvas up bye a spoke system. The smoke hole in the roof can be covered by canvas or plastic sheeting, so rain and insects can be kept out.
Also in the centre is a barrel-like thin metal plate barrel-like stove. In a good ger camp the host will get a fire going in the evening as well as before you get up in the morning. The floor is normally a cover of creaking planks, and beds are raised. Depending on size, a ger can come in two, three or four beds varieties.
A thermos filled with piping hot with tea will often be provided, often according to order: hot water with tea bags provided, readymade black tea or salt tea.
Ger camps come in a great variety. My description here is froom having stayed at a couple of them, normally they are geared for groups.
Very intimate and cosy when the fire is roaring and you go to sleep. The fire quickly goes out and is not restoked by staff. When you wake up 4 hrs later of the cold, you will not be so happy. Have a blanket ready.
We slept, obviously, at the train. The cabins were simple, though complete and clean. They have 2 beds, a little table and a comfortable place to sit and read for a while. Every 2 cabins (in 1st class) share a WC with a little shower. All the cabins have a bottle with hot water to make your own tea. They renew the water daily.
THE WILD AREA OF TSAGAAN NUR SUN
About 50 km west of Kovsgol lake is a large depression called Darkhadyn Khotgor, often referred to as Tsagannuur (white lake). This nice aimag has about 300 lakes, over 200 of them in this area alone and you can discover them hiking, by jeep or riding. From Darkhadyn Khotgor you can also reach only by riding Tsaatan tribe who lives in the taiga with reindeer.
BAYNA & ORCHER (horse guide and horse rental) will be pleased to discover with you this area and the small NAMUUN GUEST HOUSE will be happy to lodge you and to offer you family atmosphere and good food.
PRICE: from 4/5 USD/day/horse for horseback riding
From 5USD/personn to NAMUUN GUEST HOUSE in Tsagaan Nur Sun
CONTACT in Tsagaan Nur Sun to NAMUNN GUEST HOUSE
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (english, russian)
LA REGION SAUVAGE DE TSAGAAN NUR SUN
Darkhadyn Khotgor, immense depression, situee environ 50 Km a l'ouest du lac Kovsgol est aussi connue sous le nom de Tsagaannuur (lac blanc). Cette magnifique region regroupe 200 des 300 lacs de la province et vous invite a les decouvrir a pied, en jeep ou a cheval. C'est aussi le point de depart pour une randonnee chez les Tsaatans, tribu vivant de l'elevage des rennes dans la taiga et seulement accessible par cheval.
BAYNA & ORCHER (guides et loueurs de chevaux) se feront une joie de vous accompagner a la decouverte de cette region et la GUEST HOUSE NAMUNN se rejouie de vous accueillir dans son modeste etablissement, ambiance familiale et bonne cuisine garanties.
PRIX: a partir de 4/5 USD/jour/cheval pour vos randonnees
Environ 5USD/persone chez NAMUNN GUEST HOUSE a Tsagaan Nur Sun
CONTACT: sur place a la GUEST HOUSE NAMUNN a Tsagaan Nur Sun
E-mail: email@example.com (anglais, rus
Dremma with her husband are just building this guest house and so don't expect luxury, but it's a good place with good food and people are kind and helful. on 2002 no shower avaible, and only cold water...SEE PHOTO
Dremma et son mari ont a peine commence a construire cette guest house aussi ne pas s'attendre a du luxe et apportez vos suggestion pour ameliorer le confort, en 2002 pas de douche ni eau chaude... VOIR PHOTO
HOTEL IN MONGOLIA: in U.B.:i you can find hotels of different categories, guest houses and rooms to rent in private houses and so have a opportunity to meet Mongolian families. The guest houses are often 3-rooms apartment transformed into a hotel: don't expect for luxury, but hot showers, opportunity to cook, and reasonable prices (5/7euro /night/person) can be a suitable arrangememt. During Naadam is commun that the rooms are made dormitory -style.
L'INFRASTRUCTURE HOTELIERE: se developpe peu a peu. A U.B. on trouve des hotels de toutes categories, des guest houses et des chambres chez l'habitant permetant la rencontre avec des familles mongoles. Les guest houses sont souvent des appartements de 3 pieces transformees en hotel: ne pas s'attendre a un grand luxe, mais douches chaudes, petits prix (5/7 euro/p.) et possibilite de faire la cuisine peuvent etre des atouts. Durant le Naadam il n'est pas rare de voir les chambres se transformer en dortoir.
LA RETE ALBERGHIERA aumenta ogni giorno, a U.B. si trovano hotel di ogni categorie, pensioni e camere nelle famiglie. Le pensioni sono spesso degli appartamenti di 3 locali trasformati in alberghi: non é il grand lusso ma doccie calde, prezzo modico (5/7euro/p) e possibilità di cucinare possono essere interessanti. Durante il nadam le camere si trasformano in dormitori
A family home-based guesthouse with private rooms and access to good facilities in-house. Co-located with the Mongolian Steppe travel agency (home based). Youthful, young owners, very knowledgeable and with good English speaking knowledge.
Check web site for what they can do in terms of travel services etc.
Didn't stay but visited privately as well as when checking out travel services.
Gets consistently high ratings by backpackers who stay here.
in U.B. isn't permitted yet. In the towns it 's better to ask permission to picht your tent behind wooden barriers of a house to not be disturbed by drunken men. You can find public showers in major cities. For Mongolian mentality to pitch camp is totally natural and you can do it everywhere, but pitching your tent near a ger permits you to experience family life and animal noice?
TENT: even if you think you don't need it, it's better to take one with you because you might need to stay far from anywhere if you have a flat tire? the more indenpendent you can be in the steppe, the better.
à U.B. ce n’est plus possible. Dans les petites villes il est préférable demander la permission de planter sa tente derrière les palissades d’une proprieté de famille pour ne pas être ennuyé par les ivrognes et pour cette même raison : éviter de la planter sur la piste qui mène d’une ger à un village de même éviter de se mettre trop près d’une rivière (crues éventuelles) ou sur la trajectoire de troupeaux (bouses fraîches). Le camping est tout à fait naturel dans l’esprit mongol et on peut camper partout. Le mieux c’est se mettre près d’une yourte pour profiter de la vie de famille, et du bruit des troupeaux…
TOILE DE TENTE:
même si vous n’avez pas l’intention de camper il est préferable de l’emporter car vous pouvez vous retrouver loin de tout a cause d’une rencontre, d’une crevaison... Dans la steppe plus on est autonome mieux c’est. Si vous partez avec un chauffeur s'assurer qu'il a une tente pour vous avant votre départ!
nella capitale non è piu possibile. Nelle cittadine meglio chiedere il permesso di piazzare la tenda dietro le mura di legno di una proprieta per non essere disturbati dagli ubbriachi. Campeggiare è naturale per i mongoli e lo si puo fare ovvunque. Meglio mettersi vicino ad una iurta per approffitare della vita tradizionale delle famiglie e il muggito del gregge.
anche se non avete l'intenzione di campeggiare la si deve portare perche è probabile ritrovarsi lontano da tutto a causa di un guato, di un incontro... Nella steppa si deve essere assolutamente auto sufficienti
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