He dropped us at the Modern Mongol hostel, which had a sign on the door saying check-in was from 2pm to 6pm, and reception opens at 9am-11am, some time in there. Um. You cannot have a SIGN ON THE ACTUAL DOOR be the only way you communicate to guests that there will be no one to OPEN THE DOOR. I was so mad I was ready it burn it down. Like they didn’t send an email or say on their pages on booking.com or hostelworld that this was the case. You need to make sure your guests know this information BEFORE they arrive. It was freaking 7am! We had to wait at least 2 hours for a person to let us in? Bullshit. Luckily, another guest let us in, and there was a big lobby sitting area so we set up camp, got out our toiletries and camping towels, plugged in our devices, and showered in the pretty big shared bathroom, all before checking in. (This place had many more showers than toilets. Not the right ratio, guys.) We didn’t even care about how we were making a mess with all our shit all over the place. You don’t tell us the details about checking in (not even checking in to the room! Coming in to the place just to leave our bags!) before we arrive, we don’t care about making the lobby our own. We showered so good. It was lovely. I mean it was a shitty hostel and none of the showers had functioning drains (always bring shower shoes) but still.
After the Chogin Lama temple, we went to the National Museum of Mongolian History, even though I was so f-ing tired and crankpotting and oh yeah, I think I kind of hate museums. It was interesting though. They had good stuff documenting the country’s long, interesting history, from the Stone Age to the modern change from communism to democracy. It’s very centrally located by Sukhbaatar Square, which I’m going to spell differently every time I type it I think, not on purpose just by default. I decided that I deserved to listen to music while museuming because I was still not in a bed and thus super sad about that so I put my headphones in and shuffled some showtunes. It took me until an old Mongolian woman glared at me to realize that I hadn’t pushed the headphone jack into the phone far enough and the current song playing, “My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada”, was audible to all in the room. I hope no one understood some of those lines. Actually no I hope they did.
We also visited the Bogd Khan Palace, which is down in the south of the city close to the Naadam stadium. Bogd Khan means ‘holy king’, and the palace is where the last holy king of Mongolia lived. The guidebook says it’s ‘full of ghosts’. The various small pavilions house statues of Buddhas of all sorts (who knew there wasn’t just a Buddha? Apparently anyone can become a Buddha, so we were told. Didn’t know!), lots of paintings of insane scenes of Buddha and friends and demons and all sorts of religious and wacky imagery, and random objects like musical instruments and, like, dishware.
Our last museum in UB was the unique Intellectual Museum, a private man’s shrine to puzzles. So there’s this genius but probably kookoopants man who the staff refers to as ‘the founder’ which doesn’t sound culty at all who has been making puzzles since he was a child, so he was like why not put all this in a museum along with all my weird baby dolls? A guide takes you around and shows you how to do a lot of them, and gives them to you to try. It will successfully make you feel like an idiot. They are impossible to do without knowing the tricks and stuff, but the guide will do them all in like 4 seconds and it’s hard to remember that it was her job to learn how. Anyway, there are all sorts, from secret boxes that open their compartments if you pull the right pieces apart, to those silver keys that slide apart if you twist them a certain way but your brain does NOT want to ever remember how to twist them, to strings of metal balls that when aligned properly make a sturdy pyramid (this one I can now do! so proud), to wooden rubix cube type things that will just drive you crazy. In addition, there is an entire floor of all the elaborate, and I mean elaborate, chess boards that The Master made. He either made or designed everything in this museum himself, btw. He is an impressive, prolific, probably socially awkward guy. The chess boards range from tiny marble boards with coral figures to gigantic (like 15 foot) wooden boards that are puzzles to make the table and board, and then each of the figures is its own intricate puzzle. I mean. Crazy. The museum offers visitors a few of these puzzles and chess players to try to put together for cash prizes. They range from $1,000 to $100,000, and I don’t think anyone has ever won, they are so difficult. I bet Sydney Bristow could do it but I am just not a spacial puzzle genius person.
The museum doesn’t let you take pictures, but if you have extra time in UB it’s a decent place to visit. You could get the same idea from buying a few of those wooden puzzle type jawns and trying to solve it for years and years until you go crazy because you just can’t, but it was cool to see all the different kinds and all the beautiful chess boards Our Great Leader made. I would have called it just a puzzle museum though, because calling it the Intellectual Museum makes it seem like the ability to solve this puzzles is what makes someone smart when that isn’t the case you just need to learn the trick to it I’m not upset about it at all.
As has been the case all over Asia, we saw some amazing signs, like this club dedicated to our favorite Nicholas Cage movie.