Mongolia and UB
Ulaanbaatar, or UB City as it is colloquially known, is situated in the north-central Mongolia, and is serviced by direct flights from Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Berlin, Moscow, Irkutsk and Ulan Ude (http://www.discovermongolia.mn/flights.php). The city is connected to both the Trans-Siberian Railway and China Railways. The city lies at an elevation of 1300 m (4300 ft) above sea level and, despite its reputation as the world’s coldest capital, has comfortable +11-23 oC (52-73 oF) weather in July. It is also one of the sunniest capitals, with an average of less than 70 mm of precipitation and mostly clear skies throughout mid-summer.
In the 225 years since the present-day site on the Tuul River at the foot of Bogd Khan Uul mountain was settled permanently, Mongolia’s capital has grown into a bustling modern city of over 1.2 million people. Its rich cultural heritage is embodied in the numerous historic sites and monuments, including the splendid Gandantegchinlen Monastery (est. 1727) and Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, the impressive architectural ensemble of the Sukhbaatar Square, the Zaisan War Memorial, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which features silks, paintings and metalwork dating back to the 1600s.
The traditional Mongolian cuisine is simple, but healthy and balanced. Meat dumplings (like khuushuur and buuz) and stews (like tsuivan) are usually accompanied by vegetables and soups (e.g., guriltai shul). However, in the UB City, there is no shortage of restaurants featuring diverse Asian and international menus, from Indian (Namaste, Taj Mahal), to Italian (Cafe Ti-amo, Maggiano), Korean (Seoul), French (Monet, Le Triskell), Japanese (Sakura, Nagomi), Irish (Hennessy’s) and Slavic (Bukhara, Opanas), to vegetarian and fusion (Luna Blanca). The city offers comfortable accommodation for any budget, from centrally located inexpensive hotels such as Zaluuchuud to 4-star-plus options with free breakfast, Wi-fi and elegant interiors (Blue Skye Tower, Ramada and Khan Palace).
In the past twenty years, Mongolia has become a true Mecca for eco- and geotourists. Its innumerable natural attractions include pristine lakes and forests in the mountainous western and northern parts of the country (such as the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park only 40 km from the capital), to mineral springs, wild horses and waterfalls in the Khangai Mountains of central Mongolia, to singing dunes, petrified forests, canyons and dinosaur sites in the Gobi region. The country is richly endowed with mineral resources and in the past 40 years, has experienced several major exploration booms that led to the discovery of world-class Au, Cu, Mo, fluorite and rare-earth deposits. Some of these deposits will be visited during the post-Workshop fieldtrip, which will also provide multiple opportunities for exploring the unique life, culture and natural beauty of Mongolia’s countryside and its people.