This morning we walked to the Chingiss Khan hotel to change some American dollars before heading to the Naran Tuul Market, or as it is known, The Black Market. And not because it’s an illegal market, it is I understand the largest under cover market in Asia. I remember from our last visit to Ullanbaatar how interesting it is. The first being traffic getting to the market. Tugsoo had suggested we not arrive until after 12.00 or 1.00pm because any time prior we would be just dodging carts of stalls setting up. Hmm. It took a good hour to get through the crush of traffic into the grounds and to find a car park. There are people who jostle in front of the car to help you find a car park and get indignant when you drive past them. Unench had a plan; there was a paid car park he was heading too. 1,000tg, approximately 77c Australian secured a paid spot with a little more security. The Black Market is known for its pick pocket thieves and bag slashes and car break ins. The guide books always suggest not taking anything with you that cannot be lived without. And it is quite obvious there are men with eyes on the crowd as their days work. Several times I followed a gaze to the zipper on my shoulder bag. I was only interested in the fabric stalls and headed straight for them and was not disappointed. They were as good as my memory served and at least two thirds cheaper than silk road shops in the centre of Ulaanbaatar. The same fabrics selling for much less and looking just as stunning roll after roll after stall upon stall. And as before ladies with silver beads on trays to set off the deel presumed you would make from the bolts of silk.
There is much to see and the market needs a lot more time than we had today… Plan to visit again next week. A day away from from the museum and exhibition.
Today is Children’s Day in Mongolia. After our time at the Black market we came home to collect boxes of chocolates and toys prepared by the International Soroptomist women of which Tugsoo is currently president. We drove out to a Ger manufacturing factory to distribute the bags of goodies to the children of Ulanbaatars blind. There were about 125 bags of lollies to be given out directly to the children or to their parents. Many of the blind are able to work in the factory on the ger manufacturing or in the same factory where light switches are made. It was very interesting seeing inside the Russian built concrete buildings. I don’t know how the bond get around, the must be one of the worst cities to be disabled as far as infrastructure. The streets are broken. Some streets have raised concrete patterns runnings up the centre, but they will end in a dead end or lead a blind person to an unsafe place. Buildings are more often than not just staircases and no lifts, or stairs into buildings.