Before I begin telling about my first visit to Sukhbaatar Square, I should describe it and its significance to the Mongolian people. The square is ringed by government buildings, the national museum, parliament (the building behind me), presidential offices, and monuments and murals to the Mongolian nation. It is the equivalent of the national mall in Washington D.C. I’m sure you can imagine my embarrassment when I made a 360 degree panoramic view of the Sukhbaatar Square and saw a massive advertisement for Coca Cola. There are a few other advertisements, some small (and tactful) signs on some of the buildings. But certainly not like this. It is not some obscure sign, but a 5 story tall blinking and flashing neon sign. As the Mongolians, the tourists and I all enjoyed the square, we were subjected to the Coca Cola bottle erupting and spilling its neon bubbles down its 75’ length. Can you imagine a 5 story tall Heineken billboard right next to the Vietnam Memorial in D.C.?
The square is named for General Sukhbaatar, the originator of the Mongolian Revolution. In essence, he’s the “George Washington” of Mongolia. Thankfully, his back is facing the Coca Cola sign so that he won’t be forced to look at that eyesore throughout eternity.
A left to right view of the square (the Coca Cola billboard is just off to the left of the first photo):
Every time I came to the square I found it full of students, tourists, Mongolian people, and others who were all enjoying the vast open square – much like you find in D.C. As I had experienced in Russia, the young adults, students, and children don’t seem to mind having their photo taken, but older adults, especially those over 40, shun the camera at all costs.
In this photo, you can see the General Sukhbatar statue and the parliament building in the background. In the center of the Parliament building, at the top of the steps is the national hero of Mongolia: Chengis Khan (often misspelled Ghengis in English). I spotted a Japanese couple and offered to take their photo with the Khan, they in turn took mine. See what I mean? The Japanese take excellent photos! LOL.
At dusk, I shot a last photo of the Sukhbaatar statue from the view of the seated Chengis Khan. You can see some of the mountains that ring Ulaanbaatar in the background.
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