The Black Market in Ulaanbataar is a leftover from the Soviet era in Mongolia, when it was Communist and all shopping and markets were controlled by the government. The Black Market was an illegal market where individuals went to sell their goods. Now it’s huge, and legal, but the name hasn’t changed. And you can literally find ANYTHING you could possibly want there.
We went specifically to buy riding boots for me. We also wanted to check out their tack selection, but planned to buy our saddles in Olgii, the city we would fly into to begin our horse adventure.
It was overwhelming, but we finally made our way to the tack section and were blow away by how beautiful the saddles were!
… and how strange they were. I guess I understand now why we saw all of the riders standing up when they did anything faster than a walk. I also quickly realized that I would NOT be riding for multiple weeks in a Mongolian saddle. Not gonna happen. Hope they have other options in Olgii. We learned that most likely there would be Kazak saddles in Olgii, since the population there in Western Mongolia is all Kazakh.
Then we found our way to the boot section of the market. There were dozens of vendors and thousands of boots! I immediately fell in love with the traditional Mongolian boots – they are so unique! But they wouldn’t be my riding boots. Fortunately, the prices were lower than we expected, so Rick agreed to let me get two pairs, one for riding and one for wearing back home.
Before we left, we found an amazing section of antiques and traditional items. We haven’t been able to buy really any souvenirs on this trip because we couldn’t carry them. But since Mongolia was our last stop (besides a few days in Korea), we let ourselves stock up. It was also some of the coolest items we’ve seen, in that they were all authentic (not stuff made for tourists to buy) and really interesting. We ended up with a variety of items from a royal family’s turquoise jewelry to a beautiful heirloom snuff bottle, a singing bowl to traditional bronze bells. And of course, my beautiful Mongolian boots!
Getting to mingle with Mongolians going about their day-to-day business and seeing the incredible goods was a highlight of Ulaanbataar for us.