Out and About in Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar is the largest city with a population of over a million. It was founded in 1639 as a Buddhist center but moved around as a nomadic society tends to do for about 100 years until it settled on the current location. It is an interesting city but not necessarily pretty. There is a large river bank that runs through it but the amount of water that runs is more of a creek. There are large fenced areas of gers (yurts) mixed with houses that house migrants that have come from rural jobless areas to find work in the mostly jobless city. The country will see a rise in jobs when they increase mining (coal, gold, copper) activities over the next couple of years. Large high rise housing is going up in anticipation but there seems to be no urban planning. Garbage on the streets is common.


Sukhbaatar Square - the centerpiece of Ulaanbaatar. The statue on the left is of Sukhbaatar, who helped free Mongolia from the Chinese but in the center of the building is a huge impressive statue of Chinggis Kahn, the hero of Mongolia and the namesake of some excellent beer.

Some traditional outfits worn by mostly older Mongolians, I suspect the fellow in red is a monk but I like the Burberry scarf (I think dancer Connie - whose photos are mixed with mine -took that shot)

Ger district in town and spreading up the distant hillside and new high rises. You can see the river bed with water flow that never fills the bed even in springtime.



The folk dance company we worked with were called Tumen Ekh and we spent a lot of time at their studio/theater space.

The top pic is the entrance with dancers Sarah, Kelly and Dana and one of the many translators we worked with. The red door inside (with Dana) is just inside the building and through the door and upstairs is an art gallery with this giant traditional musical instrument called the horse head fiddle. Later in the week we bought some of the calligraphy works you see on the walls from the fellow next to the fiddle.

To the right of the red door is the studio where Dana, Sarah and Kelly taught and choreographed. Dana choreographed a duet and a group piece in an amazing short period of time. The duet was with two very talented (and nice) male dancers (with Dana in one of the pics). One was the only dancer who spoke a small amount of english. Dana did not have a translator for most of his choreography sections so he was was a real help, but demonstration was the language mostly used. There are other pics of the dancers on the DTSB&Co blog

Near the studio is a Korean restaurant that actually served great coffee and lots of different Asian cuisine - the best Chinese food I had in a long time. On the way to the restaurant was this building with the English name "Happiness Land". This building was photographed by the group more than any other.


The first night we were there we were able to see a performance of the Tumen Ekh dancers, singers and musicians - very impressive. The female singing was a similar to Chinese singing (like in the movie Raise the Red Lantern). The males did some throat singing. The dances were very energetic. The costumes were gorgeous. The contortionists were a bit odd. The bottom pic is of the Tumen Ekh dancers, directors, the embassy cultural attache (Marissa) and DTSB&Co group. The two males in the fur hats are the males in the duet.