Okay, I'd better get the ball rolling on the trip earlier this month to Mongolia.
For this trip we were based in Ulaanbaatar, from where we made episodic forays into the countryside. Ulaanbaatar is the capital, and is surrounded by hills (the locals refer to them as mountains, but that seems a stretch.
When we went, it was still warm (above freezing), but considering we were dropped into Mongolia from central China, where the temperature was still in the high-20's, it seemed cool. But it was good weather for hiking.
The air quality while there was excellent, but noticing that the city was completely ringed by hills made me wonder how susceptible the place was for atmospheric inversions. My vision was borne out when, on our last full day in Mongolia, the temperature dropped, we had snow, and the smoke from the coal plants was unable to breach the hills around the city. Yikes!
The Bogd Khan was the spiritual leader of Mongolia's Buddhists. When Mongolia, which had been under control of China, declared independence as the Qing dynasty collapsed in 1911, he was elevated to leader of the country. One of his palaces is tourist attraction in the southern part of the city.
It is modest, as far as palaces go, but keep in mind he was first and foremost a priest. There are a lot of artifacts inside, but as you can't take photographs inside, there aren't any. In fact, they were a mite testy about taking photos outside on the temple grounds.
The main takeaway from the contents of the palace is that I learned where George Lucas got the design ideas for Queen Amidala. In fact, Amidala was the name of a historical figure mentioned in documents in the palace.
Classic door, by Chinese standards.
Refurbished gate near the entrance.
Part of the temple complex.
Admittedly, some of the buildings look a little tired, but this gives it a much more authentic look. It's also a little off the beaten path as far as tourism goes.