Other fun things about UB…
The old Soviet state department store is in the center of town, and it’s the best place to shop for just about anything, from tourist trinkets to textbooks. It’s a nice place- they sell good gelato and it’s surrounded by pleasant beer gardens. The best part is part is that the most prominently displayed items are…camping gear. A country that is primarily nomadic, it turns out, really likes nice camping gear.
There is indeed a Mongolian BBQ. It’s an American chain. There were enough tourists coming in and asking for Mongolian BBQ that eventually they had to ask someone to come in and make one.
The nightlife is fun because there is a lot new new money. You can walk down a street and go from ramshackle temporary yurt suburbia to a BMW dealership. So at night you get all the tastefulness of the post-Soviet nouveau rich, combined with the generally wackiness of a society that’s basically mostly cowboys. I remember one club that was underground, in what felt like a bunker or an abandon parking lot or something. It had the biggest video screen I’ve ever seen, and the walls were glowing white. Everything was cool white or distressed concrete. The girls were dressed in the tightest spandex the world has ever seen. I spent the night talking with a Mongolian who had spent his life in Texas, and finally moved back for good.
There are some great homespun museums, including the very moving Museum of Political Violence (loving run out of the home of a victim of political violence by his family).