Yes, we're in Mongolia.
The flight to Beijing was 11hrs, and fairly uneventful. Seumas did some sleeping (his special gift), Rachel not so much. 6hrs in Beijing International (not a very exciting place, but some comfortable chairs), and then a very short flight (1.5hrs) from Beijing to UB. As you fly into Mongolia you see plains and plains of brown turning into plains of white, the remnants of winter.
Mongolian immigration was our only slowing point, as the guard tried to work out whether Seumas' nine-year old passport photo really belonged to him. But all was well, and we came out to meet our host David, who was timely in arriving to meet us. Irdnay (no promises on spelling) was our driver, a young christian guy who does taxi-work and the like.
He introduced us to the wonders of mongolian driving. Cars are either right-hand-drive or left-hand-drive, depending on where they come from. Driving is right-side, as you might expect. traffic lights are, minimal, and everywhere else is a case of muscling your car through. it all seems to work though, but we're not feeling inspired to drive here.
UB has a lot of dirt, meandering tracks and pathways, and the buildings just have kind of blunt facades - you have no sense of the interior. soviet architecture reigns. We passed what looks like the new wrestling palace (=stadium), a ger (mongolian for yurt) stuck up on the second floor of an abandoned building block, and lots of school children walking home.
The Halls have a lovely little apartment, surprisingly warm (for the uninitiated), and we spent our first evening recuperating, enjoying some hot vegetable soup, receiving a lot of information on life here (all good, but it can be hard to remember it all), and a good night's rest.