flight to Ulgi

Often, the Mongolian children are very curious about westerners.  This is especially true outside of the “tourist” areas  where children are less likely to see European descended people.  This child stared at me for quite a while – long enough that I was able to get my gloves off, my camera out and powered, and to shoot this photo.  Later, when I looked at this photo, it seemed to highlight the “crisis” in Mongolia right now.  The Swine Flu scare has spread across the country and some Mongolian people are genuinely frightened.  Many wear masks as this child does in an attempt to avoid the new strain of flu.

Once outside and about to board the our Saab turbo-prop plane to Ulgi, I shot this photo of Baatar (my guide).  The temperature was -20C (-4F).

On climbout, I was able to get a good view of the capital, Ulaanbaatar.  On the periphery of the city, residential development continues at a frantic pace as the countryside is deserted and rural people move to the capital in search of a better life.  About 10% of the population each year moves to Ulaanbaatar and at the current rate, the entire country will be empty in a decade.  The population of Ulaanbaatar has doubled in the last decade.  The outskirts of the city grow each month as pastoral nomads move and then set up their ger (round felt tent house) on the edge of the city.

As we reach the edge of the city and the mountains that surround it, I was able to see the layer of smog that lingers in the air during the cold Autumn and Winter months.

Well into the flight I realized how big, vast, and how mountainous Mongolia is.  There are about 100 animals for every human in Mongolia, the horse to human ratio is 13:1.  As far as I could see on the horizon was miles and miles of mountains occasionally dotted with a small village or town.

Our airline, ez-nis shines in comparison to American carriers.  Great meal, lots of drinks and snacks, friendly crew, and they were on time.  Our stewardess was very friendly and helpful.  By government regulation, she was wearing her Swine Flu mask.

At the halfway point to Ulgi, we had a scheduled stop in Donoi where some passengers departed and we delivered mail and some cargo.  The long walk to the outhouse was a popular destination during the layover.  The plane took on fuel, the passengers ran to the outdoor loo and soon we were again on our way…

As we approached Ulgi I noticed that the area was quite mountainous.  Fresh snow-covered everything and the view was quite stunning.  On final approach to Bayan Ulgi airport, I was able to see the town and shoot some photos.  The large chunks of ice that slowly drifted down the river reminded me of how cold it would be.

On arrival at Ulgi I was impressed at how pretty the mountains where.  Baatar shot a photo of me in front of our Saab airplane as we waited for the luggage to be offloaded.


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