I headed due south from my hostel on this day to explore several sites of interest to me. First stop: the Choijin Lama Monastery, which had it’s main temple, as well as three other temples to explore inside. I paid the 5,000 ₮ (₮ = Tugrik) entrance fee, as well as the 25,000 ₮ photography fee (it’s excessive, I know). I admired the vibrant colors and intricate artwork inside each temple, as well as the many masks and costumes of Buddhist deities used for ceremonies. I later learned, through The Internet, that there really are no ‘deities’ in Buddhism, that this is an inaccurate translation (another is ‘angel’) and that these ‘deities’ are really enlightened beings who are not omniscient, omnipotent, or even all around swell characters; they have their faults and even though they live for an incredibly long time, they are not immortal and will eventually die and be reborn as something else, and another being may die and take over as the ‘deity’. I also learned that I know precious little about Buddhism, apart from some of the actual teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama.
After dreaming of enlightenment, I headed down past the Central Stadium, which was alive with the sounds of football practice, and over to the Zaisan Monument – a relic from the USSR days located on the top of one of Bogd Khan mountain’s foothills. It had the usual style Soviet art designed to remind everyone how awesome Communist Russia was. The monument did provide a wide panorama of Ulaanbaatar, with all of it’s colorful buildings.
I then tried tried to visit the Bogd Khan’s Winter Palace, but learned that it was closed on Tuesdays (tourism guides state differently); so I made my way to an Irish pub to eat German food and drink Mongolian beer – I didn’t plan for that, it just happened that way. Afterwards, I went to the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts to see their art collection, from Paleolithic to the 20th century. Much of it was Buddhist art, again with a number of various ‘deities’ on display (Green Tara, White Tara, . . . I don’t remember the correct spellings for the others, and I currently type this journal entry sans internet; will I come back and update this . . . probably not), and again, the artwork was very colorful and intricately crafted.
For dinner, I had ‘Gobi Desert’ beer since I splurged on lunch – I need to try to keep costs minimum on this trip if I want to have anything left when it is complete.