Oasis of calm

Day 42 of my trip and my last day in Mongolia. I had to change hostel this morning because the lovely place I’ve stayed each time I've come back to Ulan Bator had a huge group arriving today and no free space. This is the Gandan Khiid monastery. The name translates as "great place of complete joy". It’s a short walk from the city centre and when I was there this afternoon it was quiet and a nice contrast to the busy city streets nearby. It’s a working monastery and there were monks wandering around but I didn’t see any ceremonies going on.

Mongolia has been amazing. I’d definitely come back given the chance. In summer! The scenery is stunning, the variety of landscapes is extraordinary, the skies are huge. I’ll probably never be anywhere so sparsely populated. The continuation of nomadic life in the countryside is a privilege to see and I admire the people who can survive in that hostile environment.

I’ve eaten more red meat in the last month than I probably ate in the whole of last year and if I never have boiled mutton again I’ll be very happy! The vast majority of Mongolian food contains mutton. The last few days have been a lot colder (somewhere around -8C tonight). I’m disappointed I have to leave by plane instead of taking the train to China. I really wanted to get all the way to Singapore overland. But I’m excited to be going to South Korea and looking forward to catching up with a friend who I haven’t seen for years.

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