Home » Bagana, Issue 5

Guide to UB: Things To Do

[1 July 2011 | Ес далан зургаа]

Take a class.

Whether you want to learn a new language, or simply enjoy an occasional lecture, UB offers many opportunities if you know where to look. For free or relatively inexpensive options check out the following international cultural centers: most of them offer language classes and host cultural events.

For all things German, hit up the Goethe Institute (San Business center next to the Cultural Palace, 6th floor, call 322751), whereas Francophiles should contact the Alliance Francaise (call 351914). If you’d like to take a computer class or soak up some Japanese, go to the Mongolia-Japan Center for Human Resource Development (FYI, their library is quite comfortable). The US embassy oversees the American Cultural and Information Center at the Ulaanbaatar City Public Library, while the American Center for Mongolian Studies (Central library of Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Room 407, call 77350486), a non-profit educational organization, aims to foster Mongolia related academic research.

Play a sport.

There are hundreds of sports related organizations in Mongolia, and every conceivable sport has its own association. Thus, if you are keen on a particular sport, chances are, you’d be able to find a way to hone your skills.

If you want to go out on a limb and try something new, we’d like to highlight the brand new Mongolian Fencing Federation (Mongolia National Olympic Committee building, call 91911259), established only a few months ago. Now you too can recreate the sword battles of yore and fight your way to the top. If fencing sounds too old fashioned for you, go to a military camp and have fun with an Ak-47. Mongol Military Camp (call 96968945, 99015315) will even let you drive a tank if you have the dough. Gangsta, aint it?

For couch potato types, there is always poker. Apparently there are associations for that as well, but there’s always a game or two running on any given night, with or without authorization. Since they aren’t exactly legal, we can’t tell you where to go, but ask around and you might get invited. Practice your best poker face and target someone who looks like they haven’t slept in weeks – they’ll know!

Join a club.

This is almost cliche: join a club, meet new people, enrich your life – but then again, most clichés are true. Get out of your circle, put your high school friends on hold and go out there (we are beginning to sound like a dating service, but whatever). The internet is your best friend for stalking like-minded people since most interest groups are organized through social networks (yes, we know what social networks are in Outer Mongolia, thank you very much). Facebook alone boasts more than 100 thousand users in Mongolia, Twitter is slowly gaining ground, and there are local services, such as biznetwork.mn, that have gained popularity with Mongolian professionals.

For cineastes out there, we recommend CinemAurum Club (www.cinemaurum.wordpress.com), which organizes a film screening every Saturday at 3 pm at XanaduART gallery (Urt Tsagaan, call 310239). The event, frequented by young, in the know hipsters, is dubbed “dreamer’s day”. CinemAurum members usually go for classic and art house films, recent screenings include Luchino Visconti’s “Le Notti Bianche” (1957) and Abbas kiarostami’s “The wind will carry us” (1999).

MonbookClub, a Facebook group with hundreds of members, meets once or twice a month to discuss serious books. Meetings are usually held at Tuul restaurant. Currently, the book club is reading Ayn rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”.

Ulaanabaatar for Kiddies

UB isn’t very friendly to children. Most playgrounds have been sold off to property developers, and sidewalks are impossible to navigate with a stroller, and we are not even going to talk about what happened to the Children’s Park. but the city is slowly coming around as the baby boom continues.

If your parenting style veers towards pushy and overbearing, you can be counted on driving your kid from ballet practice to piano lessons to prodigy meetings. Luckily, there are enough options in UB to keep your child busy from dawn till dusk. There are several ballet schools, piano teachers are a dime a dozen, and each and every Mongolian child is a prodigy. Khongoro’s Ballet School (Grand Office, call 99090014) and the Royal Ballet School (Youth Palace, call 99113055) will make an aspiring ballerina out of your little princess, and word class pianists can be found through the Music and dance College. If you think your child is the next Picasso, the Modern Art Gallery’s Art Education Center offers art classes. Also, the venerable Children’s Palace established in 1955, hosts a number of clubs and after school activities for children.

For women looking to meet other mothers, there is a Facebook group called “Mums in Mongolia”. Members of the group, mostly expats, get together for coffee mornings and playgroups to exchange advice and share experiences. Speaking of playgroups, there are a number of indoor play places in UB geared towards young children. We recommend the one at Grand Plaza.

 

Tsagaan Sar Monestary Tour:

Tsagaan Sar is usually associated with brand new deels, sloppy kisses from long-lost relatives and buuz, lots of it. Although you might feel lethargic after your buuz-fest on bituun, make the day count and participate in the city’s Tsagaan sar festivities. Every monastery holds a special ceremony on Tsagaan sar’s eve, an all-night affair that goes on until the first sunrise of the new year. As monks pray, they prepare colorful cakes known as balin (torma in Tibetan), an offering to the gods and quite a site. UB has several large monasteries, so it is possible to visit a few monasteries at once and take in the atmosphere of the night. Of course, the Gandantegchenlin monastery is a must: even the President visits there to pay his respects on bituun, so it can become quite crowded. dambadarjaa monastery, the oldest standing monastery in UB, offers a simpler and more authentic experience, and the dashichoiling monastery is always a pleasure to visit. Whatever your religion, think good thoughts and start your New Year right.

Karaoke:

As the saying goes, every Mongolian is a singer. A Mongolian party would not be complete without a round of songs, and everyone is expected to sing (and drink). Although such parties are still en vogue, sophisticated urbanites have embraced karaoke as a welcome alternative, which means there is a karaoke joint on every corner. Here, we’ve picked some of our favorites.

  • Sun Street Karaoke (Seoul Street, across from School No.1): Karaoke places tend to be dingy, smoke-filled affairs, but Sun Street karaoke is a welcome exception. Nicely appointed rooms, good acoustics and reasonable service – overall, a great place to exhaust your vocal cords.
  • Mongol Karaoke (Peace Avenue, behind Centerpoint): The best thing about Mongol karaoke is that it stays open past midnight. be sure to knock loudly, and the door will magically open almost every time.
  • M-Club (Baruun Selbe Street, TEDY center): Mobicom has made so much money over the last decade that it felt obliged to give back a little and invested in a member’s only entertainment center complete with a bowling alley, mini-cinema, game center and a karaoke lounge. Although you still have to fork out cash for most services, the two karaoke rooms are quite nice.
  • Chinggis Khaan Hotel (Tokyo Street): Most UB hotels feature karaoke facilities, which can be rented even if you are not staying at the hotel. Chinggis khaan hotel’s karaoke rooms are pleasant (some even have en-suite bathrooms), but be prepared to shell out 5 star prices.

Top 5 Karaoke Songs

Sure, you have the Beatles covered, with a sprinkling of Elvis and Abba, but these Mongolian tunes will make or break the night.

1. Kharanga – “Толин хул”. If you want some adrenaline, sing along to this Kharanga number and make sure you do an impression of Lkhagva strutting around with the mic. Done right, this track is guaranteed to leave you with a sore throat for the rest of the night.

2. Javkhlan – “Чи минь байгаа хойно”. Javkhlan is a perennial karaoke favorite, and even people who profess an ardent dislike of Mongolian country music will warm up to this hit.

3. Minjinsor/Chingis – “Дөрвөн улирал хоёр амраг”. A great male/female duet.

4. Sarantuya – “Хайрын бурхан”. One of Sarantuya’s biggest hits, this romantic ballad from 1996 will have everyone swooning. You gotta have Saraa’s vocal range though.

5. Khar Sarnai – “Шөнийн охин”. What would karaoke night be without a little rap? Go nuts.



Leave a comment

Smile, and be nice.