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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Prospectus: Tian Poh Resources
August 27 --
Lodgement of Prospectus with the ASIC
12 August 2014
Opening Date and expiry of Exposure Period
20 August 2014
Closing Date of the Public Offer
15 September 2014
Closing Date of the Vendor Offer
15 September 2014
Despatch of holding statements
17 September 2014
Settlement of Share Sale Agreement
17 September 2014
Anticipated date Shares commence trading on ASX
24 September 2014
* The above dates are indicative only and may change without notice. The Company reserves the right to extend the Closing Dates or close the Offers early without notice.
4. CEO's Letter
On behalf of the Directors of Tian Poh Resources Limited ("Tian Poh" or "the Company"), I am pleased to invite you to subscribe for Shares in the Company at an issue price of $0.20 each under this Prospectus.
The Company is seeking to raise $2,000,000 through the issue of 10,000,000 Shares at an issue price of $0.20 each. Oversubscriptions of up to a further 20,000,000 Shares at an issue price of $0.20 each to raise up to an additional $4,000,000 may be accepted. You may apply for Shares using the Application Form attached to this Prospectus.
The Company has entered into an agreement (Share Sale Agreement) with the Majority Shareholders of PGGR pursuant to which the Company will acquire, subject to the terms and conditions of the Share Sale Agreement, all of the issued shares in PGGR in consideration for the issue of Shares to the Vendors (Acquisition).
PGGR holds a 100% legal and beneficial interest in 1 coal mining licence and 9 exploration licences prospective for gold, copper and coal located in Mongolia (together the Licences). The Share Sale Agreement is summarised in Section 13.2.1 of this Prospectus and is subject to the satisfaction (or waiver) of certain Conditions Precedent.
The Company is seeking to raise funds under this Prospectus (Public Offer) to pay the expenses of this Public Offer and to conduct an exploration programme on the Licences.
Following its proposed listing on ASX, Tian Poh's strategy is to both commence exploration at the Licences as well as source potential resource projects for acquisition, joint venture or merger, both in Mongolia and other jurisdictions where opportunities may arise.
The Board believes the favourable geology, improving economy and developing mining industry makes Mongolia an excellent investment location and considers this to be an excellent opportunity for the Company to involve itself with gold, copper and coal projects.
This Prospectus includes details of the Company, its assets and proposed exploration and assessment. There is also a statement of risks associated with investing in the Company that every person interested in investing should read and understand. Please ensure you obtain independent professional advice if you do not understand any of the risks.
On behalf of the Directors, I commend this investment opportunity to you and look forward to welcoming you as a shareholder.
Mr Poh Kay Ping
MANAGING DIRECTOR & CEO
TIAN POH RESOURCES LIMITED
Genie Energy Boosts Oil Shale Exploration in Central Mongolia
By Michael Kohn
Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Genie Oil Shale Mongolia has signed prospecting agreement with Petroleum Authority of Mongolia, parent co. says in statement.
* Exploration block covers 25,000 sq km southeast of capital Ulaanbaatar; co. now has exclusive rights to 60,000 sq km in Mongolia
* Agreement gives co. ability to request commercial production agreement after specific suitable resource and location identified
* License area may contain world-class deposits of thick and rich oil shale well-suited for in-situ extraction technology: Genie Chief Geologist Yuval Bartov
MSE News for September 16: Top 20 +1.11% to 16,163.81, Turnover ₮20.4 Million
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Tuesday, a total of 10 thousand and 637 shares of 15 JSCs were traded costing MNT 20 million 416 thousand and 656.00.
"Hermes center" /5,000 units/, "Tavantolgoi" /1,683 units/, "Mongolia Development" /1,050/, "Mongolia Telecom" /927 units/ and "Arig gal" /530 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Tavantolgoi" (MNT nine million 204 thousand and 975), "Talkh chikher" (MNT four million and 100 thousand), APU" (MNT one million and 863 thousand), "Mongolia Telecom" (MNT one million 317 thousand and 590) and "Arig gal" (MNT one million 239 thousand and 200).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 622 billion 212 million 884 thousand and 769. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,163.81, increasing 178.20 units or 1.11% against the previous day.
Early morning rates: Khan (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,833 Sell ₮1,846), TDB (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,835 Sell ₮1,847), Golomt (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,834 Sell ₮1,844), XacBank (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,830 Sell ₮1,847), State Bank (Non-Cash Buy ₮1,827 Sell ₮1,846) FX rates
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, September 16 Close
September MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
BoM FX auction: US$4m, CNY40m bids declined, accepts $70m USD swap offer
September 16 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on September 16th, 2014 the BOM has received bid offer of 4 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1839.16-1840.16 and 40 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 299.00-300.25 from local commercial banks. The BOM has not accepted any offer.
On September 16th, 2014, The BOM has received USD Swap agreement bid offer of 70.0 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
NPL +3.37% MoM, +33.4% YoY to ₮618.2B, 5.03% of Total Loans
BoM: Consolidated Balance Sheet of Banks
September 16 (Bank of Mongolia) --
/in million of togrogs/
1 972 454,8
2 769 813,1
2 311 039,5
2 449 955,9
2 193 077,6
Central bank bills
1 356 248,1
1 626 606,3
1 080 300,8
1 088 551,2
1 376 232,6
1 778 007,7
2 210 502,0
2 193 717,3
2 155 010,2
9 728 320,2
10 715 632,7
12 241 976,4
12 165 328,3
12 278 012,5
In domestic currency
6 869 390,3
7 785 230,7
9 043 932,5
9 064 582,8
9 343 501,2
In foreign currency
2 858 930,0
2 930 402,0
3 198 043,9
3 100 745,5
2 934 511,3
16 928 420,0
20 883 711,1
21 419 492,4
20 969 192,0
20 752 301,7
2 410 956,1
2 485 412,5
2 396 081,6
2 507 013,8
2 555 553,7
In domestic currency
1 319 812,5
1 511 167,7
1 290 984,1
1 243 304,2
1 258 737,8
In foreign currency
1 091 143,6
1 105 097,5
1 263 709,6
1 296 815,9
5 340 000,2
6 355 003,8
7 095 349,9
7 071 598,9
6 919 995,2
In domestic currency
3 975 159,2
4 892 672,6
5 654 197,5
5 515 459,5
5 407 701,0
In foreign currency
1 364 323,6
1 461 719,2
1 439 601,2
1 554 541,6
1 510 737,5
1 652 013,4
1 654 551,7
2 048 487,8
2 149 163,9
2 130 474,4
1 141 698,2
1 186 170,0
1 680 166,3
1 671 260,1
1 739 869,7
1 098 100,20
1 381 214,72
1 793 894,73
1 858 608,61
1 856 568,14
Profit/loss of current year
NextGen Announces "Natural Resources and Future Heritage" Forum, September 18
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) A "Natural Resources and Future Heritage"-themed discussion of a new draft law on natural resources will run at the "Blue Sky Tower" on this September 18.
It will be co-organized by a "NextGen"– a young professionals association, and at initiative of the President and with a support from the Ministry of Finance. Basic information on this draft will be presented, and opinions and recommendations from youth will be sounded.
The action is supposed to be attended by the President's advisor on Civil involvement and Economic policy L.Dashdorj, a director of the Resources division of the Debt Management Department of the Ministry B.Tuguldur, and economist S.Borgil.
Chairman of Freedom Online Coalition, Mongolia, Largest Customer to Date of FinFisher Spying Software – WikiLeaks
September 16 (Infosecurity Magazine) Looking to highlight what it says is ongoing government surveillance globally, WikiLeaks has released previously unseen copies of weaponized German surveillance malware. The group claims that the FinFisher malware is being used by intelligence agencies around the world to spy on journalists, political dissidents and others—and that new variants are making their way to market.
The largest customer to date, it added, is Mongolia, "which has been recently selected as new Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition."
WikiLeaks has been posting on the issue of FinFisher (formerly part of the UK-based Gamma Group International until late 2013) for several years. It is made by a German company that produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems that are capable of intercepting communications and data from OS X, Windows, and Linux computers, as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices.
It's widely implicated in the kind of state-based spying that WikiLeaks is claiming. About a year ago, Citizen Lab and the Canada Center for Global Security Studies published a series of reports on FinFisher, including a description of a Malaysian incident: "We discovered a booby-trapped document that contained a candidate list for the 5 May 2013 Malaysian General Elections."
It then added, "The booby-trapped document embeds a copy of FinSpy that masquerades as legitimate Mozilla Firefox software..." And not for the first time. "Samples from the FinSpy campaign targeting Bahraini activists last year used an assembly manifest that impersonated Mozilla's Firefox browser."
That impersonation actually prompted Mozilla to send a cease and desist letter to Gamma for the unauthorized use of its browser name and characteristics.
But, despite the publicity, the spy kit is only gathering steam, WikiLeaks said—prompting the move to make it available as a free download to, well, everyone.
"FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponised surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world," said Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, in the latest edition of its Spy Files report. "The Merkel government pretends to be concerned about privacy, but its actions speak otherwise. Why does the Merkel government continue to protect FinFisher? This full data release will help the technical community build tools to protect people from FinFisher, including by tracking down its command and control centers."
It added, "In order to challenge the secrecy and the lack of accountability of the surveillance industry, analyzing the internals of this software could allow security and privacy researchers to develop new fingerprints and detection techniques, identify more countries currently using the FinFisher spyware and uncover human rights abuses."
Why Assange decided to release the actual malware to the entire world, however, instead of to security researchers only is unclear ("[the files] are weaponised malware, so handle carefully," it helpfully warned), but the group provided some forensic analysis around the bug.
"FinFisher Relay and FinSpy Proxy are the components of the FinFisher suite responsible for collecting the data acquired from the infected victims and delivering it to their controllers," it explained. "It is commonly deployed by FinFisher's customers in strategic points around the world to route the collected data through an anonymizing chain, in order to disguise the identity of its operators and the real location of the final storage, which is instead operated by the FinSpy Master."
WikiLeaks also published previously unreleased copies of the FinFisher, FinSpy PC spyware for Windows. This software is designed to be covertly installed on a Windows computer and to silently intercept files and communications, such as Skype calls, emails, video and audio through the webcam and microphone.
WikiLeaks said that it conservatively estimates FinFisher's revenue from sales to governments amount to around €50,000,000.
"Together with the previous releases, the SpyFiles collection represents a unique and central resource where to find extensive and exclusive documentation about the global surveillance industry, also indexed and searchable through the WikiLeaks Search," the company concluded.
Time to Launch New Era in Farming - Elbegdorj
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) The President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj visited major crop producing regions of Selenge aimag–Bayangol, Shaamar, Zuunburen, Tsagaannuur soums on September 14-15.
He was accompanied by the Minister of industry and agriculture Sh.Tuvdendorj, a state secretary of the Ministry Kh.Zoljargal, a chief of staff of the President's office P.Tsagaan, an advisor L.Erkhenbayar and other related to the tour officials.
Firstly, he got au fait with a construction of oil-seed processing factory of "Mind Tech" LLC in Bayangol soum. As he was told, this company has been implementing a two-stage project on domestic production of vegetable oil for food and animal fodder through colza-seed procession. The project aims to have a 100-tonnes of colza-seed a day capacity at the first stage, the perspective is to reach a capacity of 300 tonnes a day, at the second stage by 2016. Reaching a full domestic provision of food oil is the main goal, said the company director.
In Shaamar soum, the President visited a vegetable field of B.Gansukh. The soum's governor M.Bayarbat said their locality has 3,600 hectares of planting fields, most of which are for the vegetables, also 21 thousand heads of livestock, a harvesting is going with 60 percent. The he passed to the President several requests from farmers, for example, they want a support from the government on distribution and marketing of potatoes and vegetables they harvest, and on technical aid and investments for developing green-house farming. To this the President suggested that farmers take example from herders who have started to own professional licenses and badges for marketing their products.
Another leg of the tour was Zuunburen soum, where the leader of the country was introduced to the "Arvin Khur" LLC. The company produces veggies oils and fodder, processes honey and makes pillows using buckwheat shells. They also breed mutton sheep and are to supply KFC Mongolia with special sorts of potatoes.
The President stressed that it is time to start a new era in farming industry, and the starting points should be Selenge, Sukhbaatar, Bulgan, Khentii, Dornod aimags, the private sector enterprises must be the leaders of the innovation. He defined the new era as a period of comprehensive production, as planting and animal farming would combine their productions, i.e. on producing animal fodder.
He also stated that it is possible to reflect the locals' opinions to the policy-making and determination of the promoting approaches. Mongolian agriculture development will prosper as the opportunities to the markets of Russia and China are wide open, noted the President. "Economic independence of Mongolia must improve through not only mining but also a great construction in agricultural industry, and provision of own needs from the domestic productions. Mongolia's advantage is an ability to export organic products to the neighboring countries, as well as other countries through their territory, and a possibility to introduce Mongolian brands to the world market. Mongolia has a scarcest density in the world, and has two great neighbors. Our neighbor to the south has the biggest consumer market in the world. Agricultural industry must be highly developed, given the above conditions," the President said.
PM Opens Ulaangom-Naranbulga-Khyargas Lake Road in Uvs Aimag
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag worked last weekend in Uvs aimag to get familiarized with a construction there.
He attended an opening of a 190-km Ulaangom--Naranbulga--Khyargas Lake paved road. Its construction started in 2008 under initial financing of MNT 7.5 billion from the state budget but stopped to be resumed in 2012 with a MNT 87 billion financing from the "Chingis" bonds' capital. This road will significantly boost tourism in Uvs and to the economy, the locality's authorities underlined.
The Premier also saw how 1,000-family apartments and a "Street" project are being realized. In the first turn, three blocks of 105 flats are expected to open this year, and a 9.5-km paved road will be run in the aimag's center, for the time being, drainage lines construction and covering works are continuing, related officials told the PM.
After this, the Premier got acquainted with a new indoor market in Ulaangom and talked with businessmen who work there.
Mongolia-registered tugboat seized in Singapore for illegal ship-fuel trade
BY JALELAH ABU BAKER
September 16 (Straits Times) The illegal trade in ships' fuel is a lucrative business, and more people have been caught stealing, selling and buying such diesel, say police.
From January to July this year, 60,000 litres of oil changed hands illegally, 10 times more than the whole of last year.
In total, the oil was worth more than $70,000.
The diesel was siphoned off boats while they were moored in Singapore waters, and later sold to vessels outside the territory through a middleman.
BID NBFI Obtains MicroFinanza Rating
Aussie Sheep Farmer Sells Two Rams to Mongolia
September 16 (Stock Journal) STARTING a sheep stud with no prior knowledge of ovines would be a difficult task for most - but the decision to diversify into Dorpers has paid off for Lindsay and Kaye Knight, Meridian View, Merbein West, Vic.
The couple made the switch to sheep on their small 6-hectare dried fruit block 14 years ago after a long period of extended drought. Their on-farm income is now a 50:50 split between Dorpers and dried fruit.
Earlier this year Meridian View sold two rams to Mongolia as part of a flock of 200 sold as breeding stock to the central Asian country.
Stock are sold through an annual sale as part of the Wentworth Dorpers Group, which will be on October 10 this year, and by private selection.
Ulaanbaatar Mayor to Use Mitsubishi MiEV Electric Car for Official Use
September 16 (infomongolia.com) In the frameworks of Municipality Program to decrease air pollution in the city, the Ulaanbaatar Administration proposed to collaborate with Japanese Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in order to introduce electric vehicles in Mongolia.
The first discussion was held in Ulaanbaatar last November, when Mayor E.Bat-Uul met with Mitsubishi Motors Manager Keisuke Nakajima and following the negotiations, the first two MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) cars were brought in Ulaanbaatar last June for test purposes and the third agreed electric car was delivered to UB Administration on September 15, 2014.
At the handing over ceremony, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar Mr. E.Bat-Uul, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia Mr. Takenori Shimizu, Corporate General Manager of North Asia Office Mr. Yoichi Shimizu and other officials were present.
During the ceremony, Mayor E.Bat-Uul noted, "The increased use of electric vehicles will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, in addition, to save budget and thus we have been testing the first two cars since June. The monthly expense on this car is about 60 thousand tugrugs (MNT) and now we will test how it would survive Mongolian harsh climate. If the tests go well, we intend to supply all Capital City Agencies with this type of vehicles and I will also ride this car for official use".
Driver who destroyed flowerbed has license suspended for two years
September 16 (news.mn) Social media users reacted promptly after a photo of a flowerbed destroyed by an Ulaanbaatar driver was posted on social media websites. The driver who allegedly destroyed the flowerbed by making a "mistake" in parking his car, was arrested by traffic police following the post on social networks, and his driver's license was suspended for at least two years for destroying public property. The suspect was also made responsible for restoring the flowerbed. The suspect's wife helped him make the repairs.
Mongolia Participates in 22nd Economic & Environmental Conference of OSCE
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian delegates headed by Ambassador and permanent representative of Mongolia to the UN headquarters in Vienna of Austria and to other international organizations, have participated in the 22nd Economic and Environmental conference of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
It ran in Prague of Czech Republic on September 10-12. The conference was conducted by Swiss Confederation, which is leading the organization in 2014, themed "Efficient cooperation of OSCE member countries on combating natural disasters, and strengthening the security". Present at the event were current president of OSCE and the president of Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter, the foreign Minister of Czech Republic Lubomir Zaoralek, a Secretary-general of OSCE Lamberto Zannier, along with government officials from the member-countries and high representatives of academic centers and NGOs.
Myanmar Human Rights Commission hopes to study Mongolia
September 16 (news.mn) MP and Head of the Standing Committee on Law D.Ganbat and other government officials had meetings with a delegation from the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, led by Chairman Win Mra on Monday, September 15th.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Head of the Standing Committee on Law, D.Ganbat, noted the recent years of rapid development and expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries and welcomed the delegation to Mongolia.
D.Ganbat also gave a wider presentation about the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, adding that Mongolia has had a legacy of respecting human rights and freedom, and practicing democracy.
Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Win Mra thanked D.Ganbat for his time and receiving the delegation, and shared his hopes for a wider increase of bilateral relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Myanmar in the future.
Win Mra then emphasized that the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission is willing to study the positive experiences of the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia.
New Cuban Ambassador Relays Raul Castro's Wish to Visit Mongolia
September 16 (infomongolia.com) On September 16, 2014, the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia, Mr. Omar Laura Marrero presented a Letter of Credence to the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj.
Following the ceremony, President Ts.Elbegdorj received the newly accredited envoy and at the beginning of meeting Ambassador O.L.Marrero conveyed a profound greetings of the head of state of Cuba, Raul Modesto Castro to his Mongolian counterpart and affirmed that the latter visit of the incumbent President of Cuba to Mongolia was conducted in 1970 and Mr. Raul Castro is wishing to pay a visit to Mongolia again.
President Ts.Elbegdorj emphasized possibilities of reciprocal high level visits restoring the good relations of the two countries and mentioned that many Mongolian specialists used to graduate in Cuba as well as top-level visits were also conducted mutually.
Ambassador O.L.Marrero pledged to take every effort to develop Mongolia-Cuba relations and cooperation in all spheres during his term of duty.
President Ts.Elbegdorj expressed his readiness to welcome high officials from Cuba and conveyed his warm greetings to the President Raul Castro and said he glad to know that former leader Fidel Castro is feeling healthy.
Mongolia and the Republic of Cuba have established the diplomatic relations on December 07, 1960.
Ambassador of Cuba Presents Credentials – Montsame, September 16
Mongolia Establishes Diplomatic Relations with 182nd State of World, Gabonese Republic
September 16 (infomongolia.com) Within its aim to establish diplomatic relations with all United Nations member states (193), Mongolia has established diplomatic relations with the Gabonese Republic in New York City on September 15, 2014.
Setting mutual aspirations to develop and strengthen friendly relations and cooperation as a guideline, the two countries agreed to adhere to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the UN Charter and international legal principles and standards.
The Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations, Ambassador Mr. Od OCH and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Gabonese Republic to the United Nations, Ambassador Mrs. Marianne Odette Bibalou have signed the joint statement to establish diplomatic relations.
The joint statement was registered at the UN and the Ambassadors of Mongolia and Gabon have sent the statement to the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon in order to inform other UN member states.
The establishment of diplomatic relations with the Gabonese Republic provides better opportunities for both countries to develop friendly, peaceful and cooperative relations in the diplomatic, political, economic, humanitarian and other fields, moreover, the two states have agreed to support each other within bilateral and international organizations and that wider opportunities will open up for bilateral cooperation.
As of September 16, 2014, Mongolia has established diplomatic relations with 182 states of the world and the EU.
Diplomatic Relations Established with Gabon – Montsame, September 16
Mongolian Women's Shooting Team Wins Silver at 2014 ISSF World Championship
September 16 (infomongolia.com) The 51st ISSF World Championship that features 15 Olympic shooting events and 39 non-Olympic including junior events are ongoing in Granada, Spain, where over 2,000 athletes from 94 countries have been competing in 54 shooting events from September 07 to 20, 2014.
Mongolian Women's Shooting Team at the 2014 ISSF World Championship is comprised of three athletes including Merit Athlete Otryad GUNDEGMAA, IMS Tsogbadrakh MUNKHZUL and IMS Tumurchudur BAYARTSETSEG, and the only achievement performed was in the 25m Pistol Women Team competition winning Silver medal with overall score of 1739 held on September 09, 2014. In this category, the Team of China with 1741 points crowed the championship title and the Team of South Korea with 1734 points stood at the third place.
The Silver medal achieved by Mongolian National Women Team in the 2014 World Shooting Championship is the second medal in a team shooting history and the first medal of Bronze was grabbed in 1998 edition took place in Barcelona, Spain, where the Team of Mongolia was represented by O.Gundegmaa, D.Munkhbayar and D.Oyun.
Mogi: if we can't bring the Dalai Lama anymore, we'll honor the next best thing
Arjia Rinpoche Receives "Polar Star" for Building Children's Hospital
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) The "Polar Star" order was bestowed upon His Holiness the eighth Arjia Rinpoche on Tuesday at a decree of the President at the State House.
Arjia Rinpoche said that he extremely happy to receiving this honor from the President himself. "I have established a hospital in Mongolia for children suffering from blood cancer, but this is not my work only, it is a generosity of the people, so I accept this prize on behalf of them," he stressed.
As we informed before, Arjia Rinpoche opened in August a diagnostic and medical center for children suffering from blood cancer and other blood diseases, at National Health Center for Mother and Infant, with a support of faithful Buddhists.
Migrating School of Swans Set to Arrive in Sukhbaatar Aimag's Ganga Lake
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) A major school of swans gathers at Lake of Ganga in Sukhbaatar aimag every October. Waterbirds, in search for food and warm places to raise their young, head for the south pushed by the cold climate from the north. These flits cannot pass through Umnugobi, Dornogobi and Bayankhongor aimags due to the lack of rivers and lakes in the Gobi, says locals.
There are three major traffics of waterbird-flits, one of which passes through lakes and ponds in southern part of Sukhbaatar aimag. The biggest school-- of some 3,000 swans--assembles at Ganga lake, located to the south from Altan-Ovoo, an old silent volcano. Every year, a flow of tourists to this attraction increases significantly. The wonderful natural phenomenon is to happen this October 7-9.
SPIN THE GLOBE: MARISA MELTZER IN MIND-BENDING MONGOLIA
AFAR chose a destination at random and sent writer Marisa Meltzer with 24 hours' notice to a land of cashmere goats, yak slippers, and near-naked wrestlers.
By MARISA MELTZER
August 19 (AFAR) DURING A LAYOVER of Edward Snowden proportions in the Moscow airport, I emailed the concierge at my hotel in Ulaanbaatar and asked if he could track down a shaman. I knew only this much about Mongolia: there were nomads, horses, and shamans. Half an hour later I got a call on my cell phone. He had found me a shaman, but I would have to visit him soon after I got off the plane, as he was most powerful between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
I arrived in Mongolia 24 hours after I left my apartment in Brooklyn. It was dawn in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, and my first disoriented question to the driver was why all the storefronts and signs seemed to be in Russian. He gently explained to me that the Mongolian language, Khalkha Mongol, uses the Cyrillic alphabet. From the car window, the city looked like a mix of Soviet-era concrete buildings and a few gleaming towers. The air outside smelled like smoked tea.
I'm not sure if severe jet lag was the best or worst head space in which to see a shaman. Without even unpacking, fortified with a bit of oatmeal and an herbal tea billed as "rich in vitamins," I headed for the outskirts of the city with a driver who would also serve as my translator. We passed the brand-new-looking Louis Vuitton store and drove into neighborhoods of yurts and one-room houses on the northern side of Ulaanbaatar. We made a pit stop at a mini market—my year of college Russian came back and I sounded out the Cyrillic letters spelling out meenee markyet but little else—to buy what the concierge informed me were the offerings the shaman would expect, along with an enve- lope full of cash: vodka and milk.
At the shaman's yurt, I was surprised to find that he was young, in his mid-20s. He was wearing a robe and a spectacular hat: flat in the middle with points curling up on the left and right sides, a pair of eyes embroidered on the front, black vulture feathers decorating the top, talons dangling from the sides, and long fringe covering his face. The shaman began to sing, and the driver explained that he was going into a trance and channeling a 400-year-old spirit called Grandfather. The spirit spoke through the shaman in an ancient Mongolian dialect, which was translated by his assistant into modern Mongolian. The driver translated that into English for me. It was an elaborate game of telephone.
The shaman drank many cups of strong, rice-based, vodka-like soju, laughed slightly maniacally, and chain-smoked cigarettes from a silver holder. Over the course of two hours, I was given a bowl of sweet yak milk to drink, anointed with oil, and fed curd candy, and the smoke from burned herbs was blown across my body. I tossed vodka mixed with local salt to the four corners of the earth, and I knelt with my head in the shaman's lap while he prayed for me. He told me I would marry and have a daughter. He was also concerned that food I ate abroad three years ago had poisoned me.
I had expected my shaman experience to be akin to a tarot card reading—I'd pose questions about the future, and he'd answer them—but it was more akin to an esoteric religious ceremony. With vodka.
The next day, my head was still in a fog from my session with the shaman and the 12-hour time difference between New York and Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar's dizzying pollution (you can't see the stars at night) only made it worse. I headed to Hustai National Park, about two hours southwest of the city, with a guide named Manaljav.
Ulaanbaatar is home to more than a million people, but the metropolis is surrounded by massive, rolling hills. We had driven only a few miles when I spotted a nomad on a motorcycle, riding next to a small herd of galloping horses. Eventually, we took a sharp left on an unmarked dirt road and drove past a series of nomads' yurts and into the park. With its brown hills devoid of trees, Hustai looked inhospitable to wildlife, but a few miles into the park we spotted marmots running from hole to hole, vultures looking ominous while doing nothing, and shaggy yaks chewing grass. We also saw 100 or so takhi—the small, furry, never domesticated horses patriotically revered as symbols of national identity—drinking from a stream and napping in the sun.
That night I slept in a tiny bed in one of the park's yurts. It had a wood-burning stove in the center, and the coziness rekindled my childhood fantasies of sleeping in a Hobbit house or a Smurf mushroom home. Indeed, in some ways, I had reverted to a childlike state in Mongolia, where I was functionally illiterate, had to be driven everywhere, and often didn't understand what was going on. At one point, I woke up and stumbled outside to find the bathroom. I was startled, almost scared, by the number of stars in the sky.
The next morning, Manaljav said we had been invited to visit a nomad family who lived in the park. I think it was part of his standard itinerary, but did I ask? No, I just got in the car and breathed my way through car sick- ness as we snaked up a rocky hill. As soon as we arrived, two cherubic girls, about 3 and 4 years old, grabbed my hands and led me to a large pen where dozens of lambs and baby cashmere goats frolicked. They batted my legs with their tiny front hooves, inviting me to pick them up. I felt like I'd been dropped into a viral cute-animals video. I took countless selfies cradling the little critters. Cashmere goats would have real potential as urban pets: they love to eat garbage, and you could comb their fur and make your own homegrown cashmere sweaters. I briefly pondered the practicalities of running an Etsy shop from a yurt in Mongolia.
Manaljav and I returned to the city, and the next day we set out for another national park. Gorkhi-Terelj, an hour and a half east of Ulaanbaatar, is something like Mongolia's ver- sion of Yosemite. The valley is stunning, with streams and soaring rock formations, plus blue scarves woven between birch trees as altars to local spirits. The park is also tourist ridden. The Terelj Hotel, where I stayed, was reminiscent of the Overlook in The Shining, beautiful and creepy. Its rooms and restaurants were strangely almost all vacant, and the halls were dark and empty. I fully expected blood to start seeping from under a closed door.
But the excursion was made most memorable by another animal encounter. We spotted a man at a rest stop outside the park, sitting with a few camels, a vulture, and an eagle. As I approached the birds, he gestured, clearly asking me if I wanted to hold the eagle. I screamed yes! and nodded with great enthusiasm. He helped strap a heavy leather gauntlet around my right arm, and the golden eagle immediately hopped onto it. All I could do was gasp and laugh as it flapped its enormous wings. I realize, looking back, that in my euphoria, I forgot to tip him.
I wanted to spend my last day in Mongolia exploring Ulaanbaatar, so I enlisted Hishgee, a friend of a friend and a native of the city, to take me around. She is in her 20s and works for a mining company; she showed up wearing a motorcycle jacket, cutoff shorts, and a nose ring. We shopped for yak slippers and fur hats, and hit up a few of the winter-closeout cash- mere sales before heading to the Wrestling Palace to catch a glimpse of the national sport, one of the three "manly skills"—along with archery and horsemanship—praised by Genghis Khan.
When we arrived, several matches were taking place at once, and something like 260 more men were waiting their turns in the ring. Mongolian wrestling is done in the near nude, the garb nothing more than briefs, shrug- like sleeves, and boots. The air was hot and thick and smelled like sweat, and the stadium's energy was fueled by testosterone. Even though Hishgee told me pretty much every- one watches wrestling on TV, she and I were the only women in sight in a palace full of men chugging sodas, shouting to the athletes, and trying to catch candies the victors threw out to the audience. We watched until I had a vague understanding of the rules, learned to cheer at the right places, and started getting bored.
I said goodbye to Hishgee and walked back to my hotel, feeling proud that I could navigate my way through Ulaanbaatar. I was beginning to acclimate to Mongolian city life, but it was time for me to head back to my New York City life. In my room, I started packing for a 4 a.m. wake-up call. As I was reluctantly folding my clothes to put them back into my suitcase, I noticed everything smelled like campfire and farm animals. I closed my eyes and buried my face in a sweater and inhaled.
This appeared in the October 2014 issue.
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