As I began to plan my next Mongolian adventure it became ever so clear that I was completely under-dressed for this part of the world. I spoke with two young French men at my hotel who had purchased some leather boots on the local market. They told me that the Sunday Shopping Plaza was open despite the government quarantine. They gave me directions and I began planning a trip to the market to get some boots, some thicker gloves, a warmer sweater, and a warm hat. I took a photo of their boots in order to show to different vendors as I shopped.
When I arrived by taxi to the Sunday Shopping Plaza I was a bit overwhelmed by the busy activity; street vendors were hawking their wares, min-bus taxi cabs were calling out their next destinations, shoppers were scurrying along the sidewalk and the crowd seemed to surge in and out of the front doors of the plaza. I shot a few photos of the front sidewalk and of the vendors and then thought that a video would much more accurately capture the ambiance of the place:
Once inside the 7 story tall shopping mall, I noticed the line at the ATM machine. I was glad that I had brought cash as the line looked like it would take an hour to clear. The entry way and escalators were quite crowded and several times I was bumped about. I remember reading in my tour book that this mall was notorious for pickpockets so I found a quiet corner and transferred my cellular phone, camera, and wallet to my front pants pockets and pulled my jacket down to cover. As I went up the escalator, I shot a photo in an attempt to capture the crowded and chaotic atmosphere of the shopping center (top photo).
Each floor seemed to have a specialty; the first floor had women’s coats, the second floor scarves, gloves, and purses, and the third floor had sweaters and hooded sweatshirts. I shopped around and found a warm grey hoodie that was somewhat fur lined inside. Within 10 minutes I was sweating and had to remove it and my jacket. On the 5th floor was shoes and boots. Just like in Russia, women’s boots seem to be quite popular and some stores were standing room only doing a brisk business in leather knee-high boots.
While shopping, I stopped to talk with one vendor who spoke English. The nice woman took a photo for me in my new grey hoodie. She told me the story of how both of her parents were killed in car accidents; both preventable but neither were wearing their seatbelts. I thought about the swine flu quarantine and fought to not roll my eyes back in frustration.
Eventually I did find some thick fur-lined mittens ($1.50), a black scarf ($1), a leather and fur hat ($18), and a pair of knee high fur lined leather boots ($35). I felt confident to book my trek to the Gobi desert as the snow continued to fall outside…
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