20 November 2015

Winter Postcards From Mongolia - Part One - The Gobi Sauna

Ulaanbaatar. It's currently around -26 degrees. Yes. I did write -28. But it is approaching 8 in the morning there so give it a few hours and it will rise to around a positively balmy -15. 

Now. You might be reading this and thinking why? Why would anyone want to put themselves through those sort of temperatures? Mongolia wouldn't obviously be a place to head to in winter. If you live in the northern hemisphere where your November through to February will be typically cold and dark why would you head somewhere even colder and darker? Or, if you live in the summer hemisphere where your November through to February are your summer months, why on earth would you give that up to visit somewhere cold and dark?

You may think that -28 does not make for a very enjoyable holiday but trust me (!), winter is a wonderful time to experience Mongolia. Personally, I like the sense of things slowing down and people becoming closer. Winter in Mongolia is when one's relationships are renewed and strengthened. The horizon-hugging arc of the winter sun means short days and although the weather can be harsh it is a beautiful season to travel through the landscapes. It's also a time of year when you truly appreciate a sauna experience. 

So. Just in case you're planning on visiting Mongolia anytime between now and the beginning of Spring, these 'winter postcards from Mongolia' posts that I will be putting together are for you. They'll include my ideas and tips on what to experience and where to head to. First up, (as it's most likely the first place you'll touch base with) Ulaanbaatar

It has a reputation as being the world's coldest capital city. It's not considered all that glamorous either. But, for me, it won't be like anywhere you’ve ever been to and that’s much of the city’s raw appeal. 

Image by our guest, photographer Nick Rains
Image by our guest, photographer Massimo Rumi
However you're arriving into UB, look no further than the Gobi Sauna. Open 24 hours, you should have plenty of time to allow your achy travel muscles to unwind. You'll  emerge relaxed, revived and ready for whatever the day may bring. Even if it is -28 degrees.

Gobi Sauna

Is located in Ulaanbaatar. Not the Gobi. It is a sauna though. 

Why Visit

On the entry level is a shower and sauna room and on another two levels there is a massage room, cafe, relaxation room, oxygen room and different sauna rooms:

  • The Salt Sauna Room offers saunas that increase blood circulation and cleanse your skin.
  • The Amethyst Sauna Room has treatments for blood pressure that help alleviate mental stress.
  • The Agate Sauna Room is an ideal stress buster and has treatments that increase blood circulation. It is also good for relieving headaches, losing weight and removing wrinkles.
  • And my (potential) favourite the oxygen room with its gentle fountain noise and its (very) relaxing green decor - just to make sure you are truly revived.

Where Is It?

It is in the city district of Bayangol on Ard Ayush Avenue - known as the shopping district. Don't let the hideousness of the building design put you off. I doubt any photographer could capture this building in a positive light! Bayangol is known locally as the 'shopping street' so having relaxed and unwound, head to the row of small independent shops and larger national department stores. There are great local cafes serving everything from good coffee down to the ubiquitous mutton pancakes. 

It's much better on the inside. Probably one of the worst photos I have ever uploaded to the blog!
Image from www. seatholidays.com

Any reviews?

In the words of our guest Megan Greentree:

'I have to admit I felt like I had been let in on a secret. A little gem in an otherwise concrete heavy city. A place that let me meditate on what I had experienced in Mongolia in the past few weeks. After the sauna, a nap, ice cream and an hour long aromatherapy massage I breezed out of there refreshed and a lot cleaner than I had arrived.'

Those that know me, know that a major part of my philosophy is to promote tourism in Mongolia outside of the peak-season of July. I  feel it is important to try and focus on tourism throughout the whole year rather than just thinking about how much money can be made in July. That's where the idea of the 'winter postcards from Mongolia' came from. If you read this and are interested in visiting Mongolia in the winter then please please look at my website or get in touch. Just bring the thermals and enjoy  being part of a minority who do visit Mongolia in the winter - enjoy  slowing-down and seeing and experiencing Mongolia like few other people get to do.

As always, thanks for reading and do get in touch with your thoughts! It's enough that you've connected with the blog but if you like what you read and have the time to share this then thank you so much for helping to spread the EL word!