Allyson and I visited the museum on a trip we took “out west” a few weeks ago. We flew into Hovd, then took a car from there to Bayan-Olgii. It was a long (eight hour), bumpy ride, but a new (paved) road is being built from Hovd to Olgii, so the trip should be faster (and more pleasant) in the near future. In Bayan-Olgii we spent a couple days in Tsengel, the largest soum in the aimag. It’s a Kazakh town, and the differences with soums in other parts of Mongolia were striking. The gers are of a distinctly Kazakh style, and most homes are completely surrounded by wooden fences. The people mainly speak Kazakh, so even a little Mongolian won’t go very far. And, as I was dismayed to learn, since this is a Muslim area, it is impossible to buy even a beer on Fridays. (Believe me, I tried.)
We ended our trip in Olgii, the aimag center, which also has a nice museum, as well as a wonderful Turkish restaurant. Flying home from Olgii, I found myself wishing I could have spent more time out west. It is a rugged, mountainous area, so travel can be difficult, but the scenery and the people make it all worth it.