Friday, April 1, 2011

Heading home after an amazing trip

Our final day in Ulaanbaatar was packed with last minute sightseeing and souvenir shopping. We started at the Gundam Monastery which is a working monastery founded in 1835. We saw the magnificent statue of Buddha in the main temple and observed the ceremonies of the resident monks. We bought prayer flags, beads, incense and other souvenirs at a shop nearby. We then headed to the Choijin Lama Temple Museum which was built as a Buddhist temple in 1908 but is now a museum. The museum has an amazing collection of sculpture and paintings, including somewhat frightening depictions of hell as a place of fire and ice. We then had our final meal at our favorite restaurant that serves Korean, Japanese and Chinese food that we had frequented a number of times that week. We were joined by Otgon, Marissa, Namuun and translators Bolormaa and Bujin and we were able to take a final group shot.

Gundam Monastery - DTSB&Co with embassy staff Oggi and Namuun

Gundam Monastery - Connie and Dana with our translator Uyanga, her sister Zaya, and Namuun

Choijin Lama Temple Museum

Choijin Lama Temple Museum

Our last meal in Mongolia

And one last visit to Happiness Land

At the airport as we waited for our flight to Beijing we glanced at a TV monitor and were surprised and thrilled to see the interview with Dana that had been filmed at the university on Thursday and video footage we had given the interviewers of DTSB&Co dance performances.

DTSB&Co on Ulaanbaatar TV

We had a 12 hour overnight layover in Beijing and we decided to make a quick visit to Tienanmen Square at 2:00 in the morning. Needless to say we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was us and the guards. We got only three hours of sleep before heading back to the airport for our flight to Tokyo and then to Washington but the impromptu sightseeing trip was definitely worth it.

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Chatting with a Chinese army guard

We want to sincerely thank Ambassador Addleton, Marissa Maurer, Otgon, the embassy staff and translators -Nammuun, Uyanga E., Uyanga A. Bujin, Tian, Oggi, Zaya and Bolormaa - and our drivers and the talented Tumen Ekh dancers and directors for making our trip to Mongolia a most wonderful cultural exchange and adventure. We will never forget this amazing trip.