Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

Arrival in UB: a bit bleary-eyed due to lack of sleep, but still standing!

Our flight arrived in UB at around 10:30 p.m. and we were picked up at the airport by Myga, the executive director for the Mogolian Cooperative Training and Information Center (MCTIC), CCA’s partner organization in Mongolia, and Amara, a MCTIC program officer.  In true Mongolian fashion, “Myga” and “Amara” are short forms of their real first names, and that’s what everyone calls them.  Although Mongolians do have last names, they are rarely used, and most Mongolian business cards include only a first name and the first initial of the last name.  (For example, Amara is  listed on our itinerary as Amarajargal B. and Myga is Myagmar-Ochir T.) So different from Japan, where I spent two weeks being referred to as Barukan-san (a Japanese pronunciation of “Balkan” with the suffix “san”, used in names as a sign of respect).  I am very happy that I will be called “Donna” throughout this trip!

The airport is about half an hour away from downtown UB; because it was dark, I didn’t get to see much, but it is clear from all the bright lights that UB is a large, modern and very cosmopolitan city.  The advertising  billboards along the road from the airport were a mixture of Mongolian with a surprising smattering of English.  As in Seoul, it is clear that English is used a lot in business, even though not everyone speaks it.

Our hotel is the Puma Imperial, right downtown just off Sükhbaatar Square, an important focal point for navigating the city.  The square commemorates Mongolia`s “hero of the revolution”, Damdin Sükhbaatar, who declared Mongolia’s independence from China in 1921.  At the centre of the square, there is a large bronze statue of another Mongolian hero:  Chinggis Khaan (normally referred to in English as Genghis Khan).  It’s clear that eight centuries after he led the Mongols to become the greatest known empire of that time,  Chinggis Khaan is still very much revered in this country.

It was good to get to the hotel.  Although my room is small (when was the last time I saw a single bed?), it is clean and comfortable.  And most importantly for me, the internet access is excellent.  I called my husband Jim on Skype when I got in and he sounded like he was just around the corner.  Then I went to sleep for the first time in about 24 hours.  The single bed notwithstanding, it was fantastic!!!

Today we will be visiting several credit unions, having lunch with the board of MCTIC and visiting the Mongolian parliament.  Today’s Mongolia is one of the most democratic countries in Asia, and I get the impression that Mongolians are quite proud of that fact, having emerged from first Chinese, and then Russian domination.

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Posted on August 15, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Donna, Welcome to Mongolia! This is a great idea for a blog and I’m enjoying reading it! Hope all your continued adventures there go well!

  2. You made it!! Yahoo!! Not wasting anytime we see… xxoo

  3. Fascinating to hear about this… And such fun to be playing Scrabble with someone in Ulaanbaatar! Dying to hear more.

    We were all thinking about you at collation – which went well.

  4. jenefer curtis

    Hi again…..Great to hear all the history. What language do the Mongolians speak? Is it a Chinese dialect?

    • Jen – thanks for reading the blog. To answer your language question, Mongolian bears no resemblance at all to Chinese. It is a Turkic language (and I learned a lot about the relationship between the Mongolians and the Turks when I was at the National Museum). But even the resemblance to Turkish is very slight. I learned a bit while I was there, but not enough to carry on a conversation.

      • Judy Bernstein

        Hi Donna,
        Jennefer linked me to your blog. What an adventure! Thanks for sharing it. What a fascinating place.
        Judy

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