We leave Russia and some 30 hours later we arrive in the capital of Mongolia. Here our Trans-Siberia train changes into the Trans-Mongolia Express. As we enter Ulaanbaatar in the morning mist, the gers (Mongolian tents, the houses of the nomadic families) pop up between the green hills. In the suburbs of the capital you find the gers and stone cottages all mixed together. Just imagine that in ‘our’ Amsterdam or in your own hometown; in every backyard, there would be a tent which houses a complete family, an unusual sight.
Ulaanbaatar is a lot more dynamic than we have thought. We find a bizarre mix of ancient temples, Soviet-style apartment buildings, modern squares and shimmering glass towers in the heart of the city, surrounded by lush hills. A big contrast to the Mongolian steppe which we will discover later on.