Trans-Siberian Part 18: A great big statue of Ghengis Khan
Today I've decided to get one of the locals to drive me around all morning and afternoon. And just in case I needed to reassess the wisdom of the decision, I've gone and found myself a car with HELP in big letters on the side of it.
The driver is Erdenee from Helptaxi and he's collected me at 10.15am from the hotel. My plan is to visit the Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue at Tsonjin Boldog, 54 km east of the city. I expected it to take an hour or so to get there, an hour back, simple?
One thing I've already experienced from crossing the road is that drivers don't give way to pedestrians or each other. There are zebra crossings but they are always ignored, and there's no such thing as cars giving way to each other - they just drive out and merge. It's the worst driving I've ever seen - but it's not aggressive driving. I didn't see any accidents or anyone nearly get run over. It's an organised chaos and everyone accepts it as a way of life.
This chaos has taken Erdenee ONE HOUR to get out of Ulaanbaatar and onto the road that heads east. The traffic was horrendous - he said a few roads were closed and it was forcing everyone onto the same roads. Cars are weaving in and out of lanes, cutting each other up. What's worse is that I only saw ONE direction sign, and that was soon after leaving the hotel. It's almost impossible to do this without satnav - unless you're a guy like Erdenee, who's clearly done the Mongolian knowledge and took every shortcut he could to get us out quicker.
As we got out of the town it got predictably a lot more rural. The roads were terrible though. If you live anywhere where there are potholes in the road, you still won't have seen anything like this. The Chinese built a better motorway that goes to Beijing, but unfortunately we didn't go on that one.
It took nearly two hours in all to make it over to the Ghengis Khan statue. But it was worth it. It's basically a big steel statue, 40 metres high and probably the same amount or more long. Because of the way the land lies you can't see it for miles around, but it's still amazing when you get the first glimpse of it.
When we got there we were the only ones there so I pretty much had the place to myself, although a few more tourists turned up within half an hour or so. Well worth the 7000 Togrog (£3.20) it cost to get in.
Going back, I asked Erdenee if we could stop off at Zaisan, a momunent on the south side of the city. He said yes, no problem, I know a shortcut. This is where the shortcut started ...
And here are some of the ROADS we travelled on ...
If you can imagine driving through a quarry with jagged rocks on the ground, or just grass with nothing ahead of you but a few vague tracks, that's Erdenee's road. Even if you did have satnav you'd give it a go because the roads are shown on Google Maps, but you'd come to a point very soon where you'd think the road had ended and would just turn back, but there we were travelling across the plains, over rocks, up and down banks where vehicles shouldn't rightly be allowed at all, and we didn't even have a 4x4 to do it in. Fair play to the guy, he knew exactly where he was going, and if was a shortcut, we didn't hit another traffic jam until we hit the Zaisan monument (not literally, of course).
|Next:||Trans-Siberian Part 19: The Zaisan Monument|
|Previous:||Trans-Siberian Part 17: Exploring Ulaanbaatar|
Last updated 01 June 2013 12:54
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.