Day 1 of our trip may be deemed the "tourist day", as we drove around the city of Ulaanbaatar hitting up the most iconic historical spots. Not to mention, we were also getting over a 14 hour jet lag, and a 36 hour travel day, so we were moving at a pretty slow pace.
First stop on our list was the Gandan Monastery, which holds an 85 foot (26 meter) gilded Buddha statue. All around the temple, both inside and out, they had these beautiful prayer wheels. Each prayer wheel had the mantra "Om Mani Pedi Hum" in Sanskrit, which is a blessing for love and compassion. It is said that when these wheels are spun, it's the equivalent of saying this mantra out loud, and that these prayers of love and compassion are sent out into the Universe. You can bet your bottom dollar that I spun every one of these prayer wheels at every single temple and monastery we went to throughout Mongolia.
Next up, we went to the Genghis (which they pronounce as Chinggis) Khan monument on the square, as well as the National Mongolian Museum. Here we were able to learn about the Khan empire, and the impact they had on Mongolian history. It was definitely interesting to hear the local's side of the story rather than the information we learned growing up in school here in the States.
As you can see Ulaanbaatar is a HUGE city. There is so much to do, and so much to see around here. It was quite the culture shock compared to Texas, but it was all very welcomed and needed.
One of my favorite stops of the day was when we went to visit the BogdKhaan's Palace, the residence of the last king of Mongolia. The architecture here was truly amazing. There were so many beautiful sun-washed colors, and little details around the residence that my camera was filled with random pictures of roofs, corners, walls, and doors so I wouldn't forget any its beauty. What was even crazier, is how something so historical and precious was in the middle of the city surrounded by modern apartment buildings, and grocery stores.
Since this was our last night in the city, we made sure to take advantage of our hotel room. We ate like Queen's this night at the Kempinski Hotel, and each took a nice and hot shower since there were no guarantees for hot water the remainder of the trip.
Our Selena Travel Group - My Sister (Hannah), Myself, Amelie, Deborah (soon to be known as Lady Deborah) and Ross.