Tag Archive: Mongolia

Out A Third Of The Year 2013

In 2013, I spent nearly 2 months in Sydney and even slightly longer in Madrid. A good third of 2013. And that excludes those weeklong trips to Mongolia, Phuket and 2 trips to South Korea. I blogged like crazy ….. Just like when I stayed nearly 3 months homebased in Madrid back in 2012. Whenever I get back to Manila, I always long to do a trip to some exotic place. Preferably those sites below the tourist radar. There is a long list. So much to cover and discover in our own backyard. And as always, the local trips draw more hits!


Trek to Mount Pinatubo.






I struck off Batanes, Sagada, El Nido, MassKara Festival, Transfiguration Monastery in Bukidnon, Divine Mercy Shrine in Misamis Oriental and a trek to Mount Pinatubo off my bucket list which continues to grow longer. That list has its own life! I made a few “insignificant”, impromptu daytrips just outside Manila to entertain friends. And I’m surprised such trips drew much more attention and appreciation. Perhaps because many, like me, thought they were “insignificant” and were later pleasantly surprised. Maybe because they’re very doable and demands less planning and time. Or it could also be because these out-of-town trips were really good finds — a discovery that many (like me) have initially dismissed as “ordinary”.




Half-Buried In Lahar. Bacolor, Pampanga.


MassKara Festival. Bacolod. 2013.



The travels abroad have acquired a certain “routine”. Sydney and Madrid meant “family time” and homebase for many day and out-of-town trips. Twice doing it in Madrid, yet the 2 experiences can’t be branded or dismissed as “the same”. Because the 2nd time was timed with the Christmas Season, I enjoyed immersing myself in Spanish traditions and culture. In both Sydney and Madrid, my day trips were to such sites below the tourist radar. No crowds. Great sites. Reasonable prices.



Winter in Australia.


Autumn in Korea



My Seasons also got me confused, swinging from summer in the beaches of El Nido and Phuket to Philippine winter version in Batanes, to “end of winter-early spring” in Mongolia to “mild winter” in Sydney back to sweltering summer heat in Bacolod’s MassKara Festival to autumn in Korea down to honest-to-goodness winter in Madrid. You can say I’m done with winter last 2013.



Sydney. Not exactly on travel mode.

Sydney. Not exactly on travel mode.

Christmas In Madrid

Christmas In Madrid



From Traveller to Storyteller. That’s moí. In groups, out with friends, home with family or ALONE. I do enjoy my travels. I realize some of my friends do wonder why I continue to wander. I wanted to say I have not lost my capacity for joy and discoveries. I wanted to share that I continue to believe and trust and enjoy life’s simple joys, appreciating the kindness of strangers, and discovering how “little” I know of the world around me. Good health, joy in solitude paired with the unceasing thrill of meeting “angels” in my solo travels, these are God’s gifts. I appreciate them, and my gratitude expresses itself in the joy I feel. I remember meeting a Brazilian couple in the lovely town of Chinchon. They said nothing happens by accident. We got on the same bus because we were meant to spend the afternoon enjoying the medieval town and the village folks. I couldn’t agree more.



Three Kings Parade. Madrid. 2014.

Three Kings Parade. Madrid. 2014.

Football Game at Estadio Bernabeu.

Football Game at Estadio Bernabeu.



The year 2013 was marked by many firsts. Too many to list here without running the risk of boring you. It is also the same year I turned 60 so maybe, that calls for a separate blog. Like 60 “firsts” as I turned 60. How about it?

This 2013, my year ends 7 hours later. Madrid has been home since November but in a few weeks, I should be flying back to Manila. When I tried to recall how the year went, I automatically searched through my blog archives to check what has kept me busy. So…… my life has been a blog series of sorts. Nice 😉 And complete with photos too! These are my memory aids, and they work.




We “baked” under the sun here in Nacpan/Calitang near El Nido, Palawan.



Our family commenced the year 2013 with a trip to El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Palawan. All of 5 days basking in the sun with sands in between our toes. A pleasant detour was the day spent in the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang. In this photo, we felt we were the only tourists but for this couple of Caucasians by the beach.



Paete Church, one of many around Laguna de Bay.

Paete Church, one of many around Laguna de Bay.



Then friends based abroad came a-visiting and we decided to do a roadtrip around Laguna de Bay. From SLEX through Calamba through the coastal towns of Pila, Paete and Pakil, then heading home via the Manila-East Road. We never thought we could do all that in a day.



We conquered Mount Pinatubo!

We conquered Mount Pinatubo!



I’ve always wanted to trek to Mount Pinatubo while my knees and legs would allow me. My nieces and a couple of friends joined me. We didn’t trek the whole way, and you may call us cheats, but still, I can’t say it was easy.



The northernmost island province is a must-destination.  Trust me on this!

The northernmost island province is a must-destination. Trust me on this!



Aaaahhhh….. Batanes. The place is magical. I intend to go back. I’d love for my family to see this enchanting place and meet up with the very kind, welcoming locals. I’ve had some pretty amazing domestic travels early in the year, like striking off from a bucket list! Batanes ranks high up in that list and for good reasons.



Speedboating and island-hopping in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi

Speedboating and island-hopping in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi



And then Phuket happens. We didn’t plan on it, but the idea of speedboating and island-hopping in Thailand was simply too tempting. Images of James Bond sailing away on a speedboat and Leonardo di Carpio’s “The Beach” crossed our minds. We also enjoyed the luxury of a villa with a plunge pool while we were there. And this was just less than 2 weeks from our long- planned trip to Ulaan Bataar. A couple more off the bucket list!



RAW, unspoilt Mongolia

RAW, unspoilt Mongolia



By midyear, I felt I’m done traveling until my scheduled holiday by yearend in Madrid. But it’s June, and I joined some of my friends flying to Cagayan de Oro to celebrate a dear friend’s 60th. Sidetrips to Maria Cristina Falls, the Divine Mercy Shrine and the Monastery of Transfiguration in Bukidnon were soon arranged, and voila!



Monastery of Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon

Monastery of Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon



July-August till the first week of September found me in Sydney, Australia. Absolutely unplanned, but I needed to be there for my eldest sister and only surviving member of my immediate family to deal with her health travails. Thankfully, my sister beat the odds so it was a good celebration after 5 weeks of ordeal. God is truly good and merciful.



Sydney. Not exactly on travel mode.

Sydney. Not exactly on travel mode.



Before long, I’m back home. This time, eager to experience a local festival. The MassKara Festival in Bacolod was timely as kin based abroad arrived to join me in celebrating a milestone in my life. Six–oh! Soon after the MassKara frenzy, we were partying on a safari theme, and moved on to Seoul, Korea for an extended celebration. Phew!



MassKara Festival in Bacolod City

MassKara Festival in Bacolod City

In seoul, we feasted on Korean food like there was no tomorrow.

In seoul, we feasted on Korean food like there was no tomorrow.



And since November, I’ve called Madrid home. Certainly a break from tradition (and the rest of the family) to spend Christmas and New Year’s here in the midst of winter. It’s a great experience for me to hear Misa de Gallo — complete with singing of Christmas carols (in Spanish of course) in a country that christianized us and passed on many of its traditions. I have grown accustomed to lunch at 2pm and dinner at 9pm. No siestas for me. Yet. But Misa de Gallo at exactly midnight, Noche Buena at past 1 am till 3 am is a tad difficult. Many Madrileños celebrated till 5am. No wonder Christmas mornings in Spain are very quiet and peaceful. Everyone is still on bed!



Christmas In Madrid

Christmas In Madrid



A couple more things. Christmas here is more about BELENES. There are Nativity Scenes in churches, museums, palaces. The center of attention is the Child Jesus. Not Santa Claus or a Christmas Tree. And gift-giving? NOT on Christmas Day. Rather, it’s on the Feast of 3 Kings who introduced the idea of gift-giving. The kids have to wait. Feliz Navidad!



El Belen de Salzillo

El Belen de Salzillo


Who leaves Mongolia without feasting on their Mongolian Barbecue? Stuff your bowl with meats & veggies, make your own sauce concoction, and then leave it to this Mongolian to cook it for you on this round hot rock table.




But I must say Korean food is something else. We hit the ground running by choosing a bibimbap meal on our KAL flight. Well…… Let’s just say we can’t wait. Of course the inflight meal ain’t the real deal, but it’s a good start. So, here’s how we indulged ourselves in the 2 nights we stopped over in Seoul. Call us gluttons! GWIYOMI……… I’m happy!



Ginseng Chicken from YongYang…………for ENERGY!



That’s our lunch being cooked for us.



Korean Seafood Paella? Looks like it, but spicier!



Never ever miss this!



Korean Street Food is LOVE!


The best sights are outside the capital. Raw, unspoiled, rugged. But if you’re stuck in the city, why not play the life of a tourist visiting the Square, a couple of museums, some temples and memorial shrine?




One of many temple doors in Bogd Khaan Palace Museum


The climb towards the Memorial honoring Russian soldiers who helped the Mongolians during the war.



Wherever you are in the city, it’s a breeze to combine a trip to the Winter Palace or Bogd Khan Palace Museum ( check this link ) and Zaisan Hill. The latter is a memorial honoring Russian soldiers built on a hill overlooking the city and is a very popular site among locals especially the younger set. Best time to visit is right before sunset. Be prepared to climb up the stairs to the circular Shrine. It can also get crowded and windy late afternoons.




Atop Zaisan Hill is this open air Memorial Shrine. Popular with locals. Typically crowded around sunset time.


From the circular Shrine, one has a 360 degree view of the city.



Another “combination trip” is the Sukhbataar Square and the National History Museum.
The Square gets more vibrant and festive on weekends when locals set up stalls around the Square. Right across the Square is the Blue Sky Tower Hotel, a very modern building wrapped in glass. The Museum introduces one to the grandeur of the Great Mongolian Empire. Mongolians take pride in this and understandably so. And if you still have the energy, a few minutes and few blocks away from the Square is the Ulaan Bataar State Department Store. Along the way are many eateries from Cafe Amsterdam to Mongolian Barbecue eateries to Korean restaurants, as well as many souvenir shops.




Sukhbataar Square. Sukhbataar means “Red Hero”.


The Square and the Blue Sky Tower Hotel, wrapped in glass, blocking a good view of the mountains from the Square!



My best meal in Mongolia was in one of these Barbeque Buffet eateries. You stuff your bowl with all sorts of veggies and meats, then make your own sauce concoction, and let this guy cook everything for you on a hot round stone table. Watch him as he cooks your meal. Quite a performance, plus it’s really a good meal. Not a bad deal.





Cafe Amsterdam. Coffee House. Wifi and Toilet Break. Same street from the Square towards the State Department Store.


Good coffee and cheesecake too!



The cheesecake in Cafe Amsterdam was good. Good coffee, free wifi, great ambience and clean toilets! It’s a good stop between the State Department Store and the Square. If you skip this Cafe, no worries as the Store has a fast food area though frankly I didn’t enjoy my lunch there. Instead, I enjoyed the sandwiches and coffee in the tiny coffee shop beside the supermarket within the same building.




The Food Court at the 5th floor of Ulaan Bataar Department Store. No like. Try something else. I tried the tiny coffee shop (good sandwiches) on the same floor as the supermarket within this store building. Better!



As we walked back to the Square, we found burger stalls which looked popular among locals. It’s the same stall we found in Zaisan Hill but at the time, they ran out of burgers. (We got lousy corn dogs instead) Further on, one finds the Ulaan Bataar Hotel, the Opera, and a small park.




The equivalent of McDonald’s in Ulaan Bataar?


You’re not too far away from these sites from the Blue Sky Tower and the Square.



Finally, the Gandantegchinleng Buddhist Monastery requires at least an hour to go through the temples spread across a square in this bustling city. A pair of golden feet, a lovely Temple in Tibetan architecture (looks like a Bhutanese Dzong to me), many prayer wheels, a few pagoda temples, and monks chanting in between their mobile calls! The place where the monks pray and chant can do with some repair and sprucing up. If you’re not joining an organized tour, hail a cab to bring you here. You can ask the cab driver to wait up and later drive you to the Museum of Natural History (I’d blog separately on this) and if you hanker for more, go visit the Intellectual Museum and be puzzled with many Mongolian puzzles!


A Bhutanese-looking Dzong in the Buddhist Monastery Complex?


Chant Break: I wonder what these monks are chatting about.

If you only have a day to spare, i suggest you spend it traveling down 80 kilometers to the Terelj National Park to engage in cultural immersion visiting rock formations and spending time with a nomadic family. BUT if you only have half a day, your best bet is to watch a Mini Naadam in Chinggis Khaan Kuree Ger camp.


The Ger Camp for tourists!


A cultural performance in one of the tourist gers.



The Mongolian Naadam Festival has its own brand of pageantry as well as intense competitions. Boasting of the “3 sports of men”, Mongolia has succumbed to girl power and allowed women to also compete in Archery and Horse Racing but NOT IN WRESTLING. Our guide explained however that a female once outwrestled a man, prompting the “change in uniform” of the wrestlers. The more revealing uniform has since deterred women from competing. Hmmmmmm. Not very good sports, ehh?




No height nor weight nor age restrictions. Just rough it up! FIGHT!


First to touch ground loses. Easy………..



In ancient times, Naadam — which means games — was held during weddings. In time, the festival included impressive parades of mounted cavalry with the most macho men warming up in an “eagle dance” before a wrestling match. As touristy as it gets, the mini Naadam Fest in Chinggis Kuree Ger Camp was a cultural performance where men wrestlers display their physique on a chilly afternoon, children and young teens on their saddles — often without a helmet — racing across the grassy plains, and men and women shooting arrows at impossible targets.




My friend tries archery. Good luck!


Horse Racing. But they’re just kids!



In this Naadam, we were also herded into a couple of gers. Not the kind where real nomadic families live, but “fancy gers” with animal furs spread over the tent to keep you warm, “thrones” ornately designed to make you feel like royalty, and some of the best performers with a knack for freaking you out. I mean that as a COMPLIMENT!




One of them “fancy gers”. And don’t forget to look up to check out those animal furs!


Thrones to take care of your royal posterior. Look at those furs! Can you guess which animals?



The operatic renditions of Mongolian classics left me wondering how these Mongolians can sound like Russians when they speak, but sound so like their Chinese neighbors when they sing. Amazing. But it was my first to hear “throat singing”. No, yodel is different. Throat singing is in a class all its own. Listen to this clip. I’m sure I’d never explain it enough.





So soon after the “throat singing” we were treated to another cultural performance. It took awhile to “recover” from this last one. This lady contortionist nearly freaked me out. How in heaven’s name does she do that? After her performance, I noticed that she walked on tiptoes, like her feet bones won’t let her press her soles on the ground. I wonder if that hurts?




OMG. This lady freaked me out!


The pageantry of a Naadam Festival.



What an afternoon! Before gunpowder was invented, all battles were won by sheer guts, innate intellect, physical skills and muscle power. My idea of a Mongolian warrior is that of a Gengis Khan lookalike aiming with his arrow while riding a horse at full speed. Fierce!




A Mongolian Baby!

Back in the city, I lamented how so many high-rise buildings now block the background of some of the lovely Buddhist temples and museum-palaces. I saw no effort in trying to make everything “fit”, aesthetics-wise, with drab architecture spoiling many otherwise lovely sceneries. I am no expert but my simple mind reminds me of the sheer vastness of this land. Certainly unnecessary to “cluster” them modern structures at the back of, beside, or in front of historical treasures like temples and palaces. Neither do I comprehend why there is only ONE road leading to and from the international airport. Surely, there is no issue of where to line the highways across any part of Mongolia?




Bogd Khaan Temple Complex includes the Winter Palace of the last Mongol King.


A relatively better shot minus the obstructions.



In Bogd Khaan Palace Museum, the old temples need a lot of TLC and could have been given lotsa space for a truly unobstructed view. Same is true with the Gandantegchinleng Temples. The place where the monks prayed and chanted (in between mobile calls, mind you!) needed some sprucing up.




Those modern buildings shouldn’t be there. So much space around, why here?


Gandan Monastery Complex. Right in the middle of the bustling city.



While 70% of the 2.7 million population continue to live in gers, I am curious who’d occupy all the high-rise buildings under construction in the capital where 1.2 million live. With all that construction, the city is likely congested. More so with more tourist arrivals. I cannot imagine that lone airport road being clogged any further. Perhaps they could build a new airport in any of those huge vacant spaces around the city and build an express road? I’m sure they will.




Old and new buildings within the city.


Sukhbaatar Square.



That skyline will soon change. And I’m glad we got here before all these changes. It’s NOT exactly RAW, but a vibrant tourism industry sometimes cast a curse on long-preserved traditions and customs, burying with it a culture with so much more character.

Just 80 kilometers south of Ulaan Bataar, the capital of Mongolia, lies Terelj National Park. You don’t find the red sands and sand dunes of Gobi Desert here, but it’s a good introduction to the hard life of nomads here in Mongolia. Treeless slopes and if you’re not careful, sands on your eyes and tongue. It takes a good and long bath to shake off the sands and dirt.




Turtle Rock. One of many. Nature left on its own. Created by Wind and Water.


2.7 million Mongolians. ONLY 15 million livestock. Plenty of meat to eat!



Badlands? Desert? Outback? Wilderness? I honestly don’t know how to call it. The thoughts that really cross my mind is that big question mark on how the Mongolian nomads and their livestock survive living here. It’s a hard life. Both for men and animals. Depending on the season, both move their “gers” — that circular tent which serves as housing — and their livestock pens from place to place. Amazing how they can disassemble such “gers” in a flash, and reassembled in just 3 days.




A day with a nomadic family. This lady welcomed us, cooked for us, ate lunch with us.


Circular tents housing Mongolian nomads. Yurts to some, GERS to them.



Nature seems to have been left on its own, to do as it pleases, in this corner of the world. Rock formations abound…… Forces of wind and water forming caves, monuments and “towers” in vast fields likely rich in an assortment of human and animal fossils. I asked the guide to bring us to Turtle Rock. The rock didn’t disappoint. Neither did Monkey Cave, also called Monks Cave since many monks took refuge here.




Care for a ride on any of these wild horses? Just remember. Do Not Stroke. Do not Scream. me? DO NOT RIDE.


MONKEY between the stones. See it? Monkey Cave is called Monks’ Cave as well.



It would have been a truly exciting day to go horseback riding around the park. Call me Chicken but these “DON’Ts” were enough to keep me from that saddle — DON’T STROKE THE HORSE. DON’T SCREAM. There were more, but these 2 “DON’Ts” will do. Now, there’s the camel too. And TWO-HUMPED CAMELS at that! The one we found looked real tall and pretty. But I’m reminded of my ONLY camel ride in Egypt years before and knew this TALL camel won’t do. Yes, call me Chicken with a capital C. Better safe, than sorry.




For the BRAVE. Choose your horse. Free rides!


Two humped camel! Only in Mongolia and China?



Around Terelj National Park, one finds many tourist ger camps. The nightly rate approximates what you’d otherwise pay for a hotel room. Cheaper if you stay with a real nomad family. It’s good for those who wish to retire at night in the wilds, listening to animal sounds while making a trip to the toilet which is housed in a separate wooden structure, watching the stars if the weather permits, and sleeping around a fire log stove that warms the tent. Us? A day trip will do. We fancy soaking ourselves in a bath tub after a sandy, windy day in the wilds. 😉




Tourist Ger Camp. Feel,sleep LIKE A NOMAD, if you like. But your toilet is still a walk from your ger. Common facilities too.


The Ger. The Nomadic Family. The livestock pens. The Visitors.

To Ger or Not To Ger? It was a no brainer for us city folks. We love Nature, we’re quite open to new adventures, but…….




A REAL nomad family lives here. Spent time with them and had lunch in this ger.


This is LUNCH. Milk tea, homemade bread, biscuits, dumplings.



No sleeping in the “ger” for us. These circular tents are meant for nomadic families. About 70% of Mongolians still live in them. They’re used to it. It suits their lifestyles. Us? We’d stay a day with a nomad family, watch them cook, eat lunch with them, check their livestock grazing somewhere in the field, and pray to God our bladders will hold till it’s time to head back to our hotel in the city.




Homemade dumplings, STEAMED. Then the same boiling water was used to make our coffee. No kidding! More…… the excess hot water was used to clean the dishes.


Lone horseman herding the livestock. Busy on his cellphone!



Say what you like, but sleeping in a ger is out of the question 🙂 I can’t imagine myself walking out of the tent in the middle of the night just to pee. That wooden structure they call “toilet” does not suit me. And I do need my hot shower so forget it. Come to think of it, neither would it do for “during the day” pee breaks. One of us checked it out, described it, and the idea “locked our bladders shut” till we got back to our hotel.




They call her “something” which sounds like Kirle, or Girle. Whatever. She cooked lunch for us, and charmed us with her simplicity.


This is Kirle’s ger. A small circular tent with 3 beds around the stove which serves to warm the residents inside. Outside are the makeshift livestock pens.



There are other options. Around Terelj National Park, we found many tourist ger camps where “modern gers” are available. The toilets are still outside the tent, but you can sleep inside while possibly listening to animal sounds just around the camp. Could that be a yak, a fox, a horse or a goat? Once you grow tired of “feeling and sleeping like a nomad” there’s the tourist hotel right outside. You like the idea? Suit yourself. Different strokes for different folks. 😉




The “modern” way to stay and sleep inside a ger. Western toilets but still outside the tents. And a modern hotel just a few steps away.


Another tourist ger camp. I expect more tourist camps to sprout out in the vast Mongolian plains.

Stainless Steel gleaming, shining bright on this sunny day just 50 kilometers out of Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia. The world’s largest equestrian statue is right here. Chinggis Khaan looking like the fierce warrior he was, ruling over what was once the world’s largest contiguous empire!




Look at those kids run, imagine them screaming……… Chinggis must be amused!


World’s Largest Equestrian Statue. And in stainless steel!



Unlike the old temples and museums in disrepair we visited in Ulan Bator, this giant equestrian statue is new, modern and very impressive. It also chose its site (allegedly where they found the golden whip) very well. Unobstructed, it was quite a sight from a distance. We took the elevator through the horse’s tail, then walked towards the horse’s head where we came out to see Chinggis Khaan and his golden whip up close. Around the giant statue are the sacred mountains, vast fields where animals graze, and a cluster of gers.




Chinggis Khaan and His Golden Whip. Allegedly, the golden whip was found somewhere here. One of those fascinating tales from Mongolia!


See that ger camp? I won’t be surprised if the giant equestrian statue is soon surrounded by MORE gers in the coming years.



Inside, there are 2 museums dealing with the Great Warrior, his Mongolian empire, some artifacts, and more. We were lucky to get admitted just when a batch of teens were leaving…… And to exit just when a batch of kids were admitted. The latter group ran around like their energies were at an all time high. By the time they stepped outside, they were screaming and running like some monster was chasing them. Kids!




Out of nowhere, this gate towards the giant statue alerts you some 50 kms out of UB


On your way to the statue, you’d likely stop to take these photos of livestock grazing. Lambs, goats, yaks, horses, cattle having a reunion!



And if you’re here visiting, you might fancy renting Mongolian costumes 😉 Let’s see…… This must be Attila the Hun and his (aging) concubines. :))




Attila the Hun and his concubines?



A bit of trivia on Attila the Hun:

Fierce warrior he may be, but Attila didn’t die fighting. Rather, he died drinking and choking. And right on the night of his marriage! He drank, collapsed, nosebled and choked on his own blood. Just like that…… Tsk Tsk .

On our first full day in Ulaan Bataar, we visited the Winter Palace Complex of the last Monggol King. The Palace itself was built in 1893, looking more Russian than Chinese nor Mongolian nor Buddhist. Around it though are temples in the style of Chinese pagodas complete with “Spirit Shields”, a standard feature of Buddhist temples in Mongolia. The king assumed the title Bogd Khaan in 1921 when the Chinese were expelled from Mongolia, and ruled as religious leader along the likes of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet. But not for long. The last Bogd Gegen died in 1924 and soon after, many of his personal possessions were auctioned off by the next ruler of communist Mongolia.





The Bogd Khaan TPalace Complex


There are several temples and gates around the Winter Palace. From here, one can walk towards the Zaisan Hill to view the Memorial Shrine honoring Russian soldiers.



The two-story wood-framed Winter Palace — home to the 8th and last Mongol king and his consort Dondogdulam for 20 winters  — was then turned into a Museum. On display are the royal chambers, the elaborately decorated thrones, and a plethora of art and cultural relics as well as gifts to the Mongolian kings since the time of Zanabazar from all over the world. One such gift was an incredible “ger” (a circular tent used by Mongolian nomads) covered with the skins of 150 snow leopards given on the occasion of the Bogd Khaan’s 25th birthday in 1893. Imagine that – 150 leopards! Yes, that elusive animal…. snow leopards. All 150 of them. Do I hear environmentalists howling?




150 Snow Leopards to keep you warm? Whoa!


They could have found a bigger space to put this on display.



How I wish this incredible gift is displayed in a bigger space, rather than cramped in this corner. One can’t even take a photo of the entire ger, nor go around it. The birthday gift is from a certain Sangilig Dorj, a man from the old Setsen Aimag (somewhere east of the capital). Who’s this guy? Must be someone who needs some favors big time then. 150 snow leopards? Quite a monumental effort, don’t you think?




80 foxes’ fur on your back?


A royal throne — gift from a Chinese emperor in Beijing. Must have been transported on the back of a camel for that lonnnng walk over desert sands.



There’s more. How heavy could this fur coat be? This time, imagine 80 foxes. Another gift from the Qing emperor of China for Zanabazar, the 1st Monggol monarch. For some reason, I am reminded of the movie 101 Dalmatians. Cruella De Ville must have descended from these monarchs. My apologies. But I just can’t reconcile peace-loving Buddhists accepting these gifts which smack of animal cruelty. Neither do I find kings draped in such garments a pretty sight. 😦



A typical Buddhist (or Chinese?) gate.


Don’t you think this Winter Palace looks Russian than Mongolian, Chinese or Buddhist? Well, it was built by a Russian architect. So there……..



Well….. Those were the times. I hear Mongolia runs tours to see snow leopards in their habitat. Not for me. Winter time, I’d likely find it a chore walking around draped in thick winter clothes. And should one of them elusive leopards decide to attack, I’d be dead meat as running would be next to impossible in such wardrobe. That said, I’m content visiting Museums. There are no heaters here but walking around here with our coats on our backs is certainly more comfortable than searching for elusive animals in the wilds where one can literally see their “breaths”.




A pair of royal thrones to take care of those royal posteriors.


Quite an interesting Museum, really.