We made it to Mongolia! Getting settled has been wonderfully easy so far. Life in our new home is off to a good start.
There is a 12-hour time difference to adjust to, but we stopped in Seoul for two days to start start adjusting. My first day in Ulaanbaatar (UB), a new friend took me to the grocery store, showed me around the neighborhood a bit, and took me to lunch to meet some new people.
Here are some (very) initial thoughts on the city and our place:
> Absolutely amazing and beautiful weather right now. Perfect time to come so we can love it here before the long cold winter sets in.
> Roads are not good here. It was a fairly bumpy ride from the airport. And, when it rains, there is also not great drainage. You have to be strategic about walking near giant pools of water when there’s traffic so you don’t get soaked by the spray.
> Restaurants however have been good. We haven’t tried too many, but there is no shortage of decent food here. And for better or worse, the two American chains have recently opened in UB — KFC and Round Table (pizza from Jersey).
> From where we are, you can see the picturesque green mountains to the south, and that makes me want to get out to the countryside ASAP while it’s still warm. The entire city is surrounded by mountains, but the ones to the south seem to be closer and bigger. The ones to the north are densely populated with gers and homes.
> Our apartment is nice and very comfortable. There have been a few little things that needed fixing, and I somehow (still don’t know how I did it) set of an alarm at my front door within a few days of moving in. We’re in a great spot of town, and everything feels walkable in the summer as long as you can navigate the traffic and cars.
> Grocery stores have are a pretty good selection. We quickly found peanut butter and fun things like Russian sour cherries. Chupa Chups are everywhere. It does seem to be hit or miss as far as which store stocks specific products, and we hear supplies could change in the winter, but so far so good. I love seeing that almost all of the stores stock at least one type of Kirkland product (for you non-wholesale club members that’s Costco’s brand). Good stuff. I did have a bad experience with some “bacon” I bought from the butcher counter. It turns out that this was uncured, and curing bacon is key to making it taste good. What we got, when cooked, was sort of a weird, brown, bland, piece of thinly sliced pork.
> The stores sell a motley crew of products from Mongolia, Russia, Germany, Korea, America, China, and elsewhere, so pictures on products have been helpful. It’s helpful that the pictures used on fabric softener in Russia are the same ones we use.