Hotel Mongolia 1

Entrance to Hotel Mongolia

A view from one of the parapets

A view of the vast 'backyard'

The building at the middle of the compound is a restaurant while the other buildings are museums and souvenir shops. The mythical Silver Fountain of Karakorum is also replicated in front of the restaurant.

"Ger Suites": Huge felt tents (gers) are offered as suites

"Ger Camp": The smaller gers are the 'rooms' in a ger camp setting

Wooden Carts: This photo is my personal favorite from that trip. These are authentic wooden carts displayed in one section of the compound. Traditionally used by Mongolian herders to transport their camp, gear, and produce across the steppes; the role of the wooden cart is now gradually being replaced by 4X4s and cargo trucks.

Yes, it’s the hotel’s name and, no, I did not get to stay here. It was just one of those hell of a week at work in Ulaanbaatar and I wanted to get out of the city and clear my mind a little bit during the weekend.  I was already smiling as I was arranging the escapade because the hotel’s name reminded me of a song by The Eagles, “Hotel California” whose lyrics says something like; “Some dance to remember; Some dance to forget”. I guess I belonged to the latter as I wanted to forget about the challenges at work.  At least temporarily.

Hotel Mongolia is less than an hours’ drive from Ulaanbaatar and my trusted taxi driver brought me there without a hassle. He waited for me at the parking lot as I toured with my camera around the wide hotel compound which is said to be patterned after the lay-out of Karakorum,  the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.  But the ruins of Karakorum is located in Övörkhangai Province which I never got to visit. And so there was an added value to visiting Hotel Mongolia.

The hotel’s main compound is surrounded by high walls and parapets, and, unlike the usual hotels, the rooms and suites of this one are actually ‘gers’ or traditional Mongolian felt tents so that guests can get a feel of rural Mongolian life.

But the scenery around the hotel complex is also breathtaking. Its vast ‘backyard’  sits along the banks of the scenic Tu’ul River where campsites, playgrounds and summer cabins lay amidst picturesque trees set against colorful mountains as background – perfect for weekend photography.

And so I explored the hotel compound alone and, after a few hours of snapping photos, I got out of the place and went straight to my waiting cab. Unlike the story in “Hotel California” where “you can check out anytime, but you can never leave”; I quietly left the hotel compound with a hoard of lovely images.

Ah, the week wasn’t so bad after all.

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