Friday, June 26, 2009

Busy Bee

Day 471

The yert stayed warm all night long and I slept quite well. By the time we were up there was only about an hour and a half until we would be picked up. After downing some cookies and tea I spent the rest of the time reading my book. I was very happy to see the van when it arrived. I really wanted a shower and some food that didn't have hair and bugs in it.

When we finally got back to Ulaanbaatar I quickly checked into the hostel again and showered. I then ran out before getting the combination to my room or even some sheets. After eating, well, inhaling really, a rather strange potato and meat dish I headed to the National History Museum, which had been highly recommended by my guide. Overall I would have to agree. My only complaint was that it skipped around a bit and seemed to forget bits of history all together.

There seemed to have been a lot of early human activity in the area. It was also interesting to learn that Mongolia had a lot of Turkish influence. There was a bit onGhangis Khan, who conquered s everal other kingdoms and expanded Mongolia. The black plague also orientated here. The early religion here was Shamanism, but that collapsed with the spread ofBuddhism.
Here's where things began to get a bit spotty. I think that China wanted to control Mongolia and that Mongolia didn't really like this. In 1911 they requested outside help, but no one would come to theirrescue. Then in 1919 the Mongolian government approached the newly formed Bolshevik government for help. They agreed and Mongolia began on the path to communism. Not everyone was happy with this, however, the small capitalist rebellion was quickly squashed. The communist part officially gained control in 1928. The government purged anyone who was against them, between 1933 and 1953 over 36,000 people were killed. When you consider that Mongolia population in 1935 was only 738,200, the number is staggering. The communists party wasn't wholly bad. Prior to their coming ot power only 2% of Mongolians could read. The communist brought in the Cyrillic alphabet and now 96% of people can read. events leading Then things got even more spotty. Mongolia wasn't in WWII, however they donated arms and horses to the USSR. Then things got even more confusing. I know that when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989 the satellite countries had to fend for themselves, most of them had new governments by the end of 1991. Mongolia was no different, but none of theup to decommunizaion were discussed. I think they were a bit on the slow side changing things as well. People couldn't own homes until 1996! At this point the museum ended.

I then moved onto Sukhbaatar Square, the main square here. Mongolia's communist leader was once buried here, but has been moved. The square has been redone with various statues of several different Khans and some new buildings. There is also soon going to be a Louis Vuitton, I would say that capitalism has arrived. After wandering thru a park and getting a picture of a Lenin statue I headed to the Museum of Persecution. The most interesting thing about it was that it as in an old building. There were propaganda posters and some remains from a mass grave. Nothing was in English and I didn't stay long.

Next up was the Communist era State Department Store. The stationary section was under renovation so after grabbing an ice cream I moved on. While walking back to my hostel I saw a poster that said that Michael Jackson had died. How shocking. After some time on the internet I headed back to the hostel. For dinner I went out with Swiss Rafael, but we headed back early on. It had been a long day.

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