Sunday, August 10, 2008

First hours in Ulan Bator

Settling in

It’s about 1 pm when we arrive in Ulan Bator. Barely after making it off the train with all our luggage, we are swarmed by young people asking us in different languages if we need porters, but we tell them no. Dad needs to know the name of a hotel, so he runs to ask the guides if they could suggest us a hotel. I stay alone to watch the luggage, circled by porters that hover around me like vultures do around a dead animal, but I don’t care. While dad is asking around about hotels, people come and give me flyers for Guest Houses. The Guest house is a system that consists of renting someone a bed in a house for a very cheap price. Dad returns and we leave with our luggage. Since one of dad’s friends suggested a hotel, we head towards a taxi and ask the driver to take us to the Fushin hotel, which he doesn’t know and takes us to the Tuchin hotel instead. Dad goes to see the head of the front desk and comes back saying that it’s too expensive and gives an address to the driver so that he can take us to the first hotel we asked him to. The particularity of Mongolian taxis is that anyone who has a car can become a taxi driver, even if it’s only once in their life. We arrive at the Fushin hotel. Dad goes to see, but he comes back asking the driver to take us back to the Tuchin hotel. Dad explains that in the Fushin hotel there was no one at the front desk and there were people sleeping in front of a television and one of them had a pistol hanging from his belt. Finally, in the other hotel there’s a good business center where we’ll be able to send the texts and photos. We pay the taxi and move the luggage into the lobby. It’s a very grey hall, with a small television turned on that a man is watching in order not to miss the Games and at the front desk, a man in a suit is waiting for clients. We ask for a room with two beds and he shows us a room on the second floor. We go in a corridor and we arrive in front of a small wooden door that looks like the ones on houses in Walt Disney stories. We go in. It’s quite nice but there’s a bad smell of cigarettes and I can’t stand it. But dad says that it’s normal and that it will go away. We thank the man and wait for our luggage to be brought up by the hotel’s porters. We thank them and before beginning to write my texts I go have a shower but there is no hot water. We call the front desk and they send someone and five minutes later all is well. I take my shower and then settle to write my texts. After writing one, dad proposes that we go for a walk and find a restaurant.

No comments: