Woody Packard

Words + Pictures

Last Day as Tourists

2012-09-29 ~ Walking today. Coffee with Fiona Addleton, the wife of the former ambassador to Mongolia, who gave us information on everything from what kind of Mongolian batteries last longest to the eagle festival in western Mongolia, as well as Tumen Ekh, a traditional Mongolian performance group. Crossing the square with her on the way to the Natural History Museum we came across the Royal Honor Guard, a very lucky encounter from what Fiona told us about them. We also went inside the Government House and saw a National Geographic show of its "fifty greatest photographs." The images were showing the effects of lots of exhibition time, but still remarkable. There was also a drive for new members for a Mongolian issue of National Geographic.

On to the Natural History Museum, and another lesson in my own short sightedness. I didn't imagine that I would have any interest in photographing the museum's displays and so did not pay a camera admission fee. It was a bad decision on two counts, for I could have both given them some badly needed money as well as document how badly they need it.

We headed west from the museum, had lunch at a local diner, then continued west until we ran into the "big ring" as we later learned from our driver the next morning. Uh Toyruu (which may be misspelled on our map) is the same street we spent time on two days ago. After some searching on our bad map, we found the map store we had been looking for and bought several good maps to help prepare ourselves for the last leg of our trip.

Tumen Ekh performed in a small intimate theater in Children's Park. Their performance was well worth the walk, even after a long day on our feet. They combine dance, music, and even contortionists and ceremonial masks into a one hour show that we are glad we didn't miss. Throat singing and a mouth harp were the most unusual sounds, but the two stringed, box-like morin khuur, which is played upright like a cello, had my interest. Notes are not played against a fingerboard—the strings are simply touched with either the top or the bottom of the fingers.

9/30/12 ~ After we had breakfast and a chat with Tim Sanken from For Hearts and Souls, an organization that performs assessments and surgery on children needing cardiac care, I took one last walk around UB, this time to the southeast. I spent too much time looking and ended up running part of the way back. While doing so, I thought I saw my first fellow runner since being in Mongolia up ahead of me, but he turned out be a construction worker who was late for work—on Sunday morning. Made it back in time to get our luggage downstairs and meet our driver for the ride to the airport.

Baggage charges here include carry-on items, so our effort to shift five pounds of weight (a 20 kilo limit instead of the 50lb limit we arrived with) to carry-on ended up being futile. And after observing for several days the irregular size and shape of new building materials like block and brick, the one item I was not permitted to carry onto the plane was my tape measure. "Not allowed" the inspector said as she threw it into the trash.

Close Story—Back to Pictures

Last Day as Tourists

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Traditional Mongolians

Portraits with Guard

Portraits with Guard


Chingis Khan and Honor Guards

Rooftop Gers

Mongolian Coca-Cola

Jigsaw Building

Government House

Government House, Detail


Tumen Ekh

Tumen Ekh

Tumen Ekh

Tumen Ekh

Tumen Ekh

Strip, Traffic

Tim Sanken

Cafe, Ulaanbaatar

Electric Trees

Multiple Storefront

Unique Logo

Game On

Sidewalk, Gathering Fuel




National Geographic, Mongolia