I have to say that Ulaanbaatar is not the most beautiful capital I've ever been to. OK, let me rephrase that, it is probably the ugliest by a long way. My last three trips (to Sana'a (Yemen), Rangoon and Kabul) were cities that looked like Paris in Spring compared to UB. Sure it has its charms (if you like soviet apartment buildings and statues of Lenin) but its not going to win any Prince Charles architecture prizes. The addition of green space might of helped, or that crazy new fangled fad of pavements, ah well it may just be the jet lag making me mean. But, if Mongolia *is* indeed the most beautiful place in the world then the countryside must be pretty terrific (this, I can believe).
I managed to bump into a small demonstration in the main square with compelling pulsating soviet style nationalist music but I have no idea what it was all about. Was the man waving the Green Tree flag from the Mongolian Green Party? Is there a Mongolian Green Party? Are they as powerful as their German comrades? (I can answer one of these three questions).
To be fair the Mongolians have been very friendly and relaxed. They even laughed with me as I ran my 4 miles through the car fumes and debris amidst the thunder storm. One check in the good things about UlaanBaatar column maybe the fact that the police wear high heeled boots and skirts (but of course I didn't notice).
My conference doesn't start til Wednesday so tomorrow I will endeavor to explore further (if the arctic rain eases off).