Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[OT receives tax decision, MNT holds steady, Mongolia opens up to exploration, and observer status enough for now says Elbegdorj]

Please click Display Images or Download Pictures to properly view this newswire

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Follow the news on Facebook, Twitter and view archive here

Jump to: Overseas Market - Local MarketEconomyPoliticsBusinessUlaanbaatarDiplomacy - Social, Environmental and Other

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

TRQ closed +1.01% to US$3.99

Turquoise Hill Says Oyu Tolgoi Gets Decision From Tax Authority

By Divya Balji

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Turquoise Hill Resources says Oyu Tolgoi has received written notice from Mongolian Tax Authority on pending tax act.

* Oyu Tolgoi will translate notice, review in detail, evaluate implications

* NOTE: Sept. 12, Mongolia Tax Claim Cut for TRQ May Lead to Phase II Study: BMO



Oyu Tologi Receives Decision From Mongolian Tax Authority

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - September 15, 2014) - Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) (NASDAQ: TRQ) (TSX: TRQ) announced that today Oyu Tolgoi has received a written decision from the Mongolian Tax Authority on the pending tax act. Following translation of the ruling, Oyu Tolgoi will review it in detail and evaluate the implications of the decision.

Turquoise Hill will update the market in due course.

Link to release


UPDATE 1-Mongolia says resolves Rio Tinto copper mine tax dispute

* Minister says tax bill cut from $130 mln to $30 mln

* Oyu Tolgoi phase II construction to resume in Q1 2015

* All disputes ended, feasibility study approval still needed (Adds detail, background, quotes)

By Terrence Edwards

ULAN BATOR, Sept 15 (Reuters) - A tax dispute that threatened to delay the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper mine being developed in Mongolia by Rio Tinto has been resolved, a government official said on Monday.

The $6.5 billion Oyu Tolgoi project will produce more than 300,000 tonnes of copper concentrate a year once construction is fully completed. It is expected to boost Mongolia's economy by a third by 2020.

But the development has been embroiled in a series of disputes between its two owners, Rio Tinto-subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources and the Mongolian government.

Mongolia's vice-minister of mining, Oyun Erdenebulgan, told Reuters that the two sides have agreed to cut an outstanding tax bill on the project to $30 million. The authorities had delivered a $130 million bill in June.

"I understand both parties are now working closely and effectively and nobody wants to delay because of this tax issue," he said, adding that the project would resume construction in the first quarter of 2015.

Oyu Tolgoi, located in Mongolia's vast and remote southern Gobi region, is 66 percent owned by Torquoise Hill, with the Mongolian government holding the remaining 34 percent.

The first open-pit phase of the project went into operation in July 2013, and the mine produced 76,700 tonnes of copper concentrate by the end of that year.

However, the second phase, which involves the underground expansion of the mine, has been subject to a series of delays. The Mongolian government expressed concern about financing terms and cost overruns, and also ordered Turquoise Hill to draw up a new feasibility study.

Oyun said all remaining disputes on the project had been settled, and both sides were waiting for the completion of the new feasibility study.

"When it has been received, we will appoint a committee to approve it," he said. 

Link to article


Rio Tinto and Mongolia settle Oyu Tolgoi mine tax dispute – Sydney Morning Herald, September 15


MNHD last traded US$0.45 Friday, market cap $6.85m

Mongolia Holdings, Inc. recruits Business Council of Mongolia Executive Director, Jim Dwyer, to its Advisory Board

Jim Dwyer brings a wealth of Mongolia-specific investment banking and local market expertise to the Hertz Equipment Rental franchise team for Mongolia.

September 15 -- Mongolia Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: MNHD) is pleased to announce the appointment of long-time Mongolia resident and investment banking expert, Jim Dwyer, to its Advisory Board.

Mr. Dwyer was a New York-based investment banker for 30 years, completing over 100 transactions. He founded and managed M&A departments for Shearson Loeb Rhoades and UBS-North America, where he served as head of cross-border M&A. Before that he served as deputy head of M&A at Kidder Peabody and was a Senior VP of investment banking at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Starting in 2001, Mr. Dwyer represented the Government of Mongolia as lead investment banker for the privatization of Trade and Development Bank and then for the privatization of Khan Bank, the largest retail bank in Mongolia. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Dwyer was COO of the Mongolian branch of the North America-Mongolia Business Council. Subsequently, he has served as Executive Director of the Business Council of Mongolia since its inception in 2007.

Mr. Dwyer received an MBA from Columbia University and a BBA from the University of Notre Dame. He lives in Ulaanbaatar with his family.

Former US Ambassador E. Michael Ussery, the Company's Chairman, commented: "We appreciate Jim Dwyer's generosity with his time, expertise and contacts, throughout the development of our Hertz Equipment Rental business opportunity for Mongolia. We applaud his thirteen-year commitment to advancing the cohesiveness of the business community there and value his new, more formal relationship with Mongolia Holdings, Inc."

About the Company:

Mongolia Holdings, Inc., through its wholly-owned subsidiary Mongolia Equipment Rental Corporation, is the Hertz Equipment Rental franchisee for Mongolia. This exclusive franchise allows the Company to operate a business of renting, selling, and maintaining equipment for use in construction, mining, materials-handling, commercial, and industrial activities in Mongolia under the unique plan and system of Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation and Hertz Equipment Rental System.

Link to release


XAM +166.7% in last 3 months, last traded at A$0.12 Friday

Xanadu Mines Investor Presentation, September 2014: Unlocking's Mongolia's Copper Belts

September 16, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --

Link to preso

Back to top

Local Market

MSE News for September 15: Top 20 +1.51% to 15,985.61, Turnover 21.6 Million

Ulaanbaatar, September 15 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 6,041 shares of 15 JSCs were traded costing MNT 21 million 550 thousand and 981.70.

"Gobi" /2,000 units/, "Mongolia Telecom" /1,212 units/, "Merex" /1,114/, "E-trans logistics" /729 units/ and "APU" /230 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Gobi" (MNT 16 million and 400 thousand), "Mongolia Telecom" (MNT one million 723 thousand and 464), APU" (MNT 850 thousand and 587), "Gutal" (MNT 770 thousand) and "Makh impex" (MNT 550 thousand and 900).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 607 billion 344 million 531 thousand and 887. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,985.61, increasing 237.26 units or 1.51% against the previous day.

Link to article

Back to top


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 1,846), XacBank (Non-Cash Buy 1,830 Sell 1,847), State Bank (Non-Cash Buy 1,827 Sell 1,846) FX rates

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, September 15 Close

















































September MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:


Link to rates


BoM issues 100 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -9.1% to 390.8 billion

September 15 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 100 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


Mongolia's Foreign Trade Review, August 2014

September 15 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Total trade turnover: $7,175.6 millions

As of Aug 2014 the total cumulative trade turnover increased by 3.1% (USD 215.5 millions) from that of the previous year and reached USD 7,175.6 millions. The increase in the trade turnover was due to the increase in exports by USD 873.1 millions.

The structure of the trade flows with the neighboring trade partners is as following: (i) trade with PRC: 61.2% or USD 4,390.2 millions and (ii) trade with Russia: 15.1% or USD 1,082.1 millions. The trade volume between Mongolia and China increased by 24.7% and the trade volume between Mongolia and Russia increased by 4.9%.

Trade balance: -$23.0 million

As of Aug 2014, the cumulative trade balance decreased by 98.5% (USD 1,530.7 millions) from that of the previous year and reached USD –23.0 millions. During the reporting period the total exports increased by 32.3% from that of the previous year, imports de-creased by 15.4% from that of the previous year, thus the trade balance improved by USD 1,530.7 millions.

The value of the three-month moving average of the difference of annual growth rates of exports and imports has been decreasing recent years (Picture 1 shows that the annual growth rates of ex-ports and imports have been declining since October 2011). But since the beginning of 2014, it has been increasing.

Trade balance of paid trade flows: $183.5 million

The state of the trade balance of paid trade flows is one of the main variables that determines the pressure on the domestic foreign exchange market.

As of Aug 2014, the trade balance of paid trade flows reached USD 183.5 millions. During the reporting period, paid imports decreased by 15.1%, and paid exports increased by 30.3% from that of previous year.

Terms of trade: 1.631 (test estimation)

As of Aug 2014, terms of trade index (2012 base year) increased by 18.9% from that of the previous year and reached 1.631.

This increase in the terms of trade is mainly attributed to the de-crease in import prices of durable consumer goods, fuels, machin-ery and equipment.


Composition: 87% + 13%

The share of mineral exports in total exports increased by 0.5 points from that of the previous year and reached 87%.

Exports of coal, copper concentrate, iron ore and concentrate and crude oil have a weight of nearly 77% of total exports and 89% of mining exports.

In addition, these 4 products' share in the mining exports in-creased by 3.7 points from that of the previous year, share in the total exports increased by 3.6 points.

Growth: +32.3%

Mongolian export increased by 32.3% from that of the previous year, which was mainly affected by 28.8% increase in mineral exports. Exports of copper concentrate and crude oil increased by 158% and 49%, respectively, which accounted for 44% in growth of mining export. On the other hand, coking coal, iron ore and zinc ore export decreased by nearly 15%, 35%, 5% respectively, which accounted for 11% decrease in the growth of mining export.


As of Aug 2014, Mongolian export increased by 873.1 million USD from that of the previous year. It is affected by the increase of export commodities' quantities (USD 932.7 millions) and decrease in export commodities' prices (USD 59.6 millions) .

Because of the increase in crude oil and copper concentrate quan-tities, mining export increased by 774 millions USD. On the other hand, because of decrease in prices of coal, iron ore and de-crease in quantities of iron ore, zinc ore mining export declined by 464 million USD.

Cashmere, cashmere products and other exports increased by 36.4 and 59.4 million USD respectively.

World market prices for primary commodities

As of Aug 31 2014, gold price reached 1,287.3 USD, increased by 7.7% from that of the previous year and increased by 0.4% from that of the last month.

As of Aug 31 2014, copper and iron ore prices reached 7,008.5 and 87.9 USD, decreased by 1.8%, 7.7% from that of the previous month respectively. Copper price decreased by 1.0%, iron ore price decreased by 36.2% from that of the previous year.


Composition: 26% + 42% + 21%

As of Aug 2014, 26% of total imports were consumer goods, 42% were capital goods and 21% were fuels.

Share of consumer goods in total imports increased by 2% from that of the previous year and share of the capital goods decreased by 6% from that of the previous year . And the share of fuels stood at the same level.

Growth: -15.4%

Mongolian imports decreased by 15.4% from that of the previous year. Main contributors of this decrease were capital goods de-crease, which equals to 12% of the total decrease, and oil import which equals to 2% of the total decrease.

Capital goods and fuels imports decreased by 26% (519 millions USD) and 12% (102 millions USD) respectively. Thus total import decreased from that of the previous year.


Consumer goods import decreased by 9% (86 millions USD) from that of the previous year. Main contributors of this decrease were durables goods, in particular decrease in passenger car imports.

Capital goods import decreased by 26% (519 millions USD) which was mainly contributed by 41% decrease in machinery, equipment and supplies (556 million USD). On the other hand, import of construction materials increased by 10% (50 million USD).

Intermediate goods and industrial materials import increased by 11% (41 millions USD). The main contribution was 85% in-crease in electricity (48 millions USD).

Fuels import decreased by 12% (102 millions USD). The oil price on the border decreased from beginning of 2012 to august 2012. Since then, the oil price increased slightly, but from October 2012 it is decreasing slowly. (Figure 8).

Import of the consumer goods

The growth of consumer goods import, calculated by 3 month moving average method, is constantly declining. / Figure 7/.

Even though the import growth of non-durable consumer goods was relatively stable, that of durable consumer goods was declin-ing by the bigger phase.

Link to report


Mongolia: The Next Asian Tiger?

A new Free Trade Agreement with Japan is a good sign. But more action will be needed to jump-start Mongolia's economy. 

By J. Berkshire Miller

September 15 (The National Interest) The news of July's agreement in principle of the Mongolia-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was merely another addition to Tokyo's stable of trade agreements in Asia. But for Mongolia, the trade pact with Japan is of far more significance—and not merely because it was with the world's third largest economy. The conclusion of negotiations represents Mongolia's official entry into East Asia's proliferation of trade agreements, as this is the country's first FTA. Meanwhile, Ulaanbaatar is also studying proposed agreements with South Korea and China.

But will Mongolia's drive for FTAs and a greater push for economic regionalism help its economy? After years of soaring economic growth, the Mongolian economy has precipitously cooled over the past year with a sharp decline in GDP growth and a looming deficit of foreign direct investment (FDI). Indeed, Ulaanbaatar remains heavily dependent on the mining sector for its economic fortunes, which have been battered over the past two years due to the sinking price of coal as global supply outpaced demand. But while the demand for coal is once again slated to surpass supply in the coming years, Mongolia's FDI numbers remain low.

Over the first six months of 2014, FDI to Mongolia dipped more than 70 percent as compared to the year before. This lack of capital flow compounds an already sizable challenge facing the Central Asian country, which saw its FDI numbers halved in 2013 after record growth in previous years. In addition to concerns about FDI in its minerals sector, Ulaanbaatar's economy is likely to continue to feel pain in the coming years as a result of significant economic imbalances due to government policies aimed at stimulating economic growth. Without improved FDI flows, Mongolia's trade imbalance—currently under -10 percent—will likely worsen as the country continues to depend on imported energy and infrastructure, rather than focus on strengthening its exports.

According to the most recent World Bank report, other key sectors are faltering too—such as agriculture, electricity and construction. These economic pressures are contributing to double-digit inflation in Mongolia and less purchasing power for domestic households. This inflation is also contributing to an already overheated housing market in Mongolia that is rapidly increasing household debt.      

The news of the FTA with Japan—a significant source of regional FDI—is a good sign for kick-starting Mongolia's drive to improve its investment appeal. But FTAs won't be the only solution here. The government of Mongolian president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj continues to try to repair Mongolia's international image after it rounded circles on its mining investment regulations over the past couple years. The new investment law has been more transparent and less restrictive than previous legislation, which handcuffed foreign investors and curtailed large investments in key projects, such as the multibillion-dollar Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.

What can Ulaanbaatar do to change the course of its economic fortunes? There are a number of domestic policies—including reigning in spending and attacking inflation—that are necessary, as noted previously. There are also key foreign-policy actions that Mongolia should undertake. First, Mongolia must address its FDI gap with a full-court press on international investors and a more transparent environment to court multinational companies. Second, Ulaanbaatar needs to recognize the limits of its "third neighbor" policy—which focuses on diversifying Mongolia's strategic partnerships beyond Russia and China. While the policy has been, in general, a success story, Mongolia must work harder towards also pushing for stronger economic and investment ties with Beijing and Moscow.

Mongolia's recent history as a landlocked vassal to these superpowers has understandably cautioned Ulaanbaatar's appetite for stronger ties. But despite historical resentment, most acutely focused at China, Mongolia must remain pragmatic in order to maintain its economic success of the past decade. This pragmatism was on display during Chinese president Xi Jinping's two-day visit to Mongolia last month. The visit, the first by a Chinese leader in over a decade, was a significant step towards an improved economic relationship between Beijing and Ulaanbaatar. During Xi's visit, both sides agreed to elevate their relationship and enhance economic cooperation in the minerals sector and also in areas such as infrastructure development. Beijing also relished the opportunity to attempt to upstage Japan's surging engagement with Mongolia.

Ties with Russia also remain vital to Mongolia's prosperity and Elbegdorj has looked to enhance the relationship with Moscow, despite strong international pressure against Russia due to its actions in the Ukraine. At the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Tajikistan, Elbegdorj took part in a trilateral summit meeting with Xi and Russian president Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, Xi proposed the three countries create a trilateral "economic corridor" that would serve as a modern-day Silk Road.

But while the prospects of large FDI numbers from Beijing and Moscow are appealing, Mongolia will have to tap-dance around the geopolitical pressure from both. This maneuvering is becoming increasingly more difficult as both Moscow and Beijing seem adverse to U.S. and Japanese efforts to strengthen partnerships in the region. Indeed, Xi demonstrated this baggage during this week's trilateral summit by inviting Mongolia to next year's commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II—an opportunity to celebrate "the victories of the World Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression." In other words, Ulaanbaatar's ability to balance its economic needs with its desired geopolitical trajectory will be put to the test in the coming years, especially if its economy fails to regain momentum.

J. Berkshire Miller is a fellow on Japan and Chair of the Japan-Korea Working Group with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum. Follow him on Twitter: @jbmllr.

Link to article

Back to top


Wikileaks: #Mongolia revealed to be extremely high user of German surveillance malware

Through FinFisher's support and feedback platform, customers could provide feedback, open support request and obtain updates to the products they acquired.

The majority of customers are just identified by a 8 digits long alphanumeric username, the few recognizable usernames revealed names of third companies such asCobham Surveillance GmbH in Germany, Dyplex Communications Ltd in Canada, Elaman GmbH in Germany and Trovicor GmbH in Germany. It's important to notice that none of them have product licenses associated with them, meaning they might be distribution partners, rather than actual customers.

Some customers were identified through the analysis of support requests and attached documents they provided to FinFisher support. This included SlovakiaMongolia, Qatar State Security, South AfricaBahrainPakistanEstoniaVietnamAustralia NSW Police, BelgiumNigeriaNetherlands KLPD, PCS Security in Singapore, Bangladesh, Secret Services of HungaryItaly and Bosnia & Herzegovina Intelligence.

Provided with the price list, we calculated an estimation of the profit FinFisher generated through the sale of surveillance products. Applying the retail price to all the licenses available in the database, they amount to a total of €47,550,196, or €98,362,554 if we consider all the licenses marked as "deleted" too.

Consider that the FinFly ISP licenses were not taken into account as no price as provided, and that support and training costs were not included in this estimation. Therefore we could realistically expect a higher number.

In the following table you can browse through each customer record, read their support requests, see the licenses they acquired, whether they are customers at the time of this publication and an estimation of how much money was invested in the acquisition of such licenses.










Estimated Cost



2010-09-01 00:00:00

2011-09-03 00:00:00

Base license


FinFly USB

2010-09-01 00:00:00

2011-09-03 00:00:00



FinUSB Suite

2010-09-01 00:00:00

2011-09-03 00:00:00




2010-09-01 02:00:00

2013-09-03 02:00:00

Base license + 25 targets + 3 agents


FinFly USB

2010-09-01 02:00:00

2013-09-03 02:00:00



FinFly USB

2010-09-01 02:00:00

2013-09-03 02:00:00



FinUSB Suite

2010-09-01 02:00:00

2013-09-03 02:00:00



FinUSB Suite

2010-09-01 02:00:00

2013-09-03 02:00:00



FinFly USB

2010-09-01 02:00:00

2014-09-03 02:00:00



2010-09-01 02:00:00

2014-09-03 02:00:00

Base license + 150 targets + 10 agents

FinUSB Suite

2010-09-01 02:00:00

2014-09-03 02:00:00


FinFly ISP

2013-08-18 02:00:00

2014-09-30 02:00:00


FinIntrusion Kit

2013-11-13 01:00:00

2014-11-21 01:00:00



2013-11-13 01:00:00

2014-11-21 01:00:00


FinFly LAN

2013-11-13 01:00:00

2014-11-21 01:00:00


FinFly Web

2013-11-13 01:00:00

2014-11-21 01:00:00


Total: €853560 (€1358160)

Link to release

Back to top


Mongolia to Get Exploration License Requests, Bids From Sept. 24

By Michael Kohn

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia will receive bids and requests for mining exploration licenses beginning Sept. 24, the Ministry of Mining said today in a statement.

* From Sept. 24, 19.88% of new territory will open up for exploration. The area includes 13.39% to be available based on license requests and 6.49% based on a tender process: statement

* In total, 28.48% of the country's territory, including previously allowed tracts, will be open to mining and exploration

* Licenses will be the first to be issued since a 2010 ban on exploration



Mongolia to issue mining exploration licenses from September 24

September 15 ( Mongolia has announced that it will issue mining exploration licenses starting September 24th. The news was announced during a press conference held by Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag and Chairman of the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia D. Uurintuya on September 15th. Officials say that the exploration and mining license issuing process has become completely regulated and will licenses will be issued on a scientific basis, not like the previous process.

Application numbers for licenses will be available online in order to provide more transparency in the procedure.

The move comes after Mongolian parliament passed amendments to the Minerals Law, which lifted a ban on the issuing and processing of new licenses, on July 1st.

Under the amendments, areas that can be granted under exploration licenses will be determined and publicly reported based on the suggestions from the National Geology Office.

Mining Ministry officials hope that this will create the opportunity to conduct step-by-step surveys and analysis of Mongolia's mineral resources, maintain a thorough database and national registry of mineral resources, increase economic growth and competitiveness, and attract more investment.

It is estimated that the areas that qualify for exploration licenses cover 19.88 percent of the nation's territory, or 31.09 million hectares.

Link to article


Exploration Licenses to Be IssuedMontsame, September 15


MIAT Launching Direct Flights to Singapore on September 24

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 15 (MONTSAME) The national flag carrier--Mongolian Airlines company will launch direct flights to Singapore on September 24.

Mongolia first gained the 5th freedom of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 1996, which gives a right to fly between two countries on a flight originating or ending in one's own country. This year, the MIAT got this 5th freedom again and is ensuring a preparation for the flights to Singapore via Beijing.

As of present, the MIAT operates regular international flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Erlian, to Seoul, Tokyo, and Moscow. Charter flights are performed to Sanya, Osaka, Pyongyang, Jeju, Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi and Dubai.  

Link to article

Back to top


Mitsubishi Hands Over Electric Car to Ulaanbaatar for Testing

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 15 (MONTSAME) A ceremony has ran on Chingis Square to receive an electro mobile granted by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation to the Office of the Mayor.

Present at the ceremony were the UB city Mayor E.Bat-Uul, the Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia Mr Takenori Shimizu, and representatives of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.

This electric car consumes demands some MNT 60 thousand a moth, it can run 130 kilometers when charged to its fullest. The Mayor said he would put these vehicles into taxi services if this car proves its tolerance to -30-40 Celsius in the winter coming. The city administration consider that this would be nice way to reduce Ulaanbaatar's air pollution, which consists mainly of coal smoke and fair amount of car-emitted smokes during winters.

Link to article

Back to top


Mongolia's Current Observer Status at SCO Enough for Now, Says President Elbegdorj

September 15 ( On September 11, 2014, the Heads of State of Mongolia, the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China for the first time sat behind a roundtable trilateral meeting upon the initiation of Mongolia's President Ts.Elbegdorj right before the 14th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization took place in Dushanbe, the Republic of Tajikistan.

Following the statements delivered by the President of China Xi Jinping and President of Russia Vladimir Putin on organizational issues of Tripartite Meeting in Ulaanbaatar, President of Mongolia Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ gave a press conference and commented on the statements made by his two counterparts answering on questions forwarded by Mongolian journalists accompanied him.

How do you see the results of the first formal meeting? The meeting was pretty much in the center of global attention.

I would be impressed as an historical event, if parties had agreed to organize the Ulaanbaatar Meeting in Mongolia. Today's meeting was decided to organize in a very short period, because I was re-requesting during the recent visits of the heads of state of China and Russia to Mongolia, after which, the two leaders were aware whether to meet or not during the Dushanbe SCO Summit and finally the meeting was agreed to host, which was revised at the Foreign Ministries and Presidential Offices level of the three parties. The issue to hold tripartite meeting has been discussed earlier and at this time, many questions aroused, for instances, how to organize and in what format it should run, at least who will speak first and who will stand next to each other or to consider an alphabetical order and etc. many details were consulted. Nevertheless, I am very satisfied. We should use the opportunity. Before, the heads of state used to figure out the meeting as formality, but now considering more by the means of its content to reach decisions.

Probably Mongolia's status to join the SCO will be asked again by the Presidents of China and Russia. What the Mongolia's position?

This proposal was forwarded not for the first time. We used to answer 'We respectfully accept the proposal'. Currently, Mongolia is an active Observer and has been participating actively at all measures organized by SCO even in the regional activities.

Mongolia's initiatives in the Organization have been implemented, but the key interest of interlinking the transit transport network is not resolved yet. This talk is being continued with the two neighbors. Thereof, we are requesting to discuss this issue by three-party, despite of we are asking to take part in the major infrastructure projects in the frames of SCO member and observer states, particularly in the railway sector. In addition, the natural gas pipelines and constructing power plant to distribute energy are parts of possible joint implementation. Therefore, the Ulaanbaatar Meeting is aimed to discuss these opportunities, besides, Mongolia's gateway in the auto road network linking Europe and Asia is also open, so let us to join these projects. We see such factual results should overcome, instead of just organizing the meeting as to deliver a few-minute speech and shaking hands. Thus, we urge an effective works are awaiting us, moreover, we will be continuing to participate actively in the SCO activities and Mongolia's current status of Observer is enough for now.

It is expected that Mongolia will be joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forcefully and handed over the Certificate accredits as a member-state of the SCO. How it is realistic?

It will not be happened. I do not think such primitive methods would be used. In the case of such recruit into the SCO, the last call is on the behalf of Mongolia whether to accept the Certificate or not. We express our position very clear. In the terms of accepting Mongolia's proposals on transit transport and economic beneficial negotiations, we would consider to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on its own decision. 

Link to article


President Elbegdorj: Mongolia to Stay as ObserverMontsame, September 15


Russia hints Mongolia's joining to SCO as China backs up with financial measures

By Amarsanaa

September 15 ( Last Thursday (September 11), during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Meeting, the Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Russia, China and Mongolia to increase trilateral contacts and cooperate on joint projects in infrastructure, mining, and energy, which is codenamed in Mongolia as "Talyn Zam" or "Steppe Infrastructure" (in English.)

Specifically, Putin said: "The natural geographic proximity of Mongolia, Russia and China makes it possible for us to implement good long-term projects in infrastructure, the power sector and the mining industry. We have what to discuss with each other. Naturally, we deem it important, expedient and useful to start a permanent dialogue."

The origin of the idea for a Russia-China-Mongolia trilateral cooperation on "Talyn Zam" is elaborated during the preparation the Chinese Chairman's visit to Mongolia in August 2014, when the Mongolian side actively working on the negotiation. Sources could say that Minister Batbayar is masterminded the idea, because of his lead the team of the preparation for the visit. The idea was enriched by the Chinese side and later with Russians, which has a little passive reaction over the initiative. However, the Russian President promised to continue the dialogue in the future, namely until the 70th anniversary of Russia's victory in the Second World War next year, where Xi and Elbegdorj are both invited. Even the Russian side invited the Mongolian armed force to take part in the military parade.

The whole idea was coincides with the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, proposed by Xi during his visit to Central Asia last year, eyes a revival of the ancient trade route linking China with Central Asia and Europe.

The three countries, Xi pointed out, can dovetail the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Russia's transcontinental rail plan and Mongolia's Prairie Road program, and jointly build a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor (Talyn Zam).

On building the corridor, Xi called on the three sides to strengthen traffic interconnectivity, facilitate cargo clearance and transportation, and study the feasibility of building a transnational power grid.

As part of the initiative, Xi also suggested that the three countries beef up cooperation in such areas as tourism, think tank, media, environmental protection, and disaster prevention and relief.

The three countries should deepen cooperation within the framework of the SCO, jointly safeguard regional security, and achieve common development, said the Chinese leader.

Founded in Shanghai in 2001, the SCO groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative offers important opportunities for trilateral cooperation, the Russian president said, calling on the three sides to combine their development plans and establish a long-term and stable cooperative relationship in the areas of energy, mining and transportation infrastructure construction.

As the Russian official suggested that SCO is expected to consider Mongolia as the next member of the organization, which is set to become a transport hub.

"We hope that the SCO will consider the issue of accepting new member states, including Mongolia. New members will receive aid to develop security," Feng Noyzun said at the International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya press conference.

"We will seek more innovative ways of collaboration. China, Russia and Kazakhstan have reached a lot of mutual understanding in Central Asia, the oil and gas pipelines are just the start of the partnership," he said.

"For Mongolia, we need to see how it can become a transport hub in SCO, and how it could offer a new model of cooperation," the Chinese expert added.

Chen Yu Zhu, who also heads the international relations institute, said expanding the SCO is important as it will lead to stronger influence of the organization on the international arena.

Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, said: "Mongolia's membership is a prospect. Mongolia has its own keys to North Korea. So the SCO is not a war or economic bloc, but a more flexible, more functional organization. And that is why the Mongolian case is needed."

The Chinese experts participated in the video link-up between Moscow and Beijing organized by the International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya press center ahead of the SCO summit to be held in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe on September 11-12.

SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are currently observer members.

Link to article


A New Dawn In the East

By Harry Riley-Gould

September 12 (Russian International Affairs Council) Given the state of current Russian relations with the West over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, one could be forgiven for considering President Putin's visit to Mongolia on the third of September to be an oddly timed affair. Certainly for many, even in Russia, the state of Mongolia is not a primary concern in terms of global politics. However, hidden behind Mongolia's understated international reputation lies a country holding increasing significance to Russia's Eastern realignment, as well as an important node in Moscow's reassertion of its Soviet-era partnerships. Furthermore, the two nation's extensive history of interactions provide a rich background for cooperation in the 21st century.

Mongolia and Russia: A Shared History 

It is a quirk of Russo-Mongolian history that one can avoid hyperbole in declaring Mongolia as a crucial factor in the original development of the Russian nation. Whilst Russia has often been best understood through its interaction with Western nations, it is the East that established much of what we now consider 'Russian'. Whether one commits to conservative views of the Golden horde as a stagnating presence -- or revisionist views which view the Khanates as a force for development -- the twelfth century Mongolian invasion had a formative effect on the Russian state. Traditional views have considered the Golden Horde as having had a devastating effect on the Rus', but recent changes in attitude can be seen in academic circles. The Mongols certainly slaughtered thousands, but they also brought benefits to the peoples of Rus including a postal service, paper money and safe borders within the pax Mongolica. Arguably, a unique and unified Rus identity only developed in opposition to the so-called 'Tatar Yoke', and the rise of Moscow as the centre of Russian culture can also be attributed to the Golden Horde's sacking of Kiev in 1240. Perhaps most significantly, it is the Rus' people's time under domination by the Khanates which first distinguished an alternate path for Russian development to that of Western Europe.

This relationship was reversed during the years of the Empire, as Russia developed into an industrialised and powerful nation state. Mongolia, by contrast, remained both overwhelmingly rural and tiny in terms of population. Subsequently, during the Soviet era, the then-People's Republic of Mongolia functioned as a satellite of the USSR, relying heavily on Soviet aid and investment. Since the fall of communism however, Moscow's presence in Ulaanbaator has declined. 

The Myth of Russian Disengagement 

It is frequently asserted that the Russian Federation 'forgot' Mongolia in the immediate post-Soviet era, but this is an easy generalisation which overlooks important aspects of the Russo-Mongolian relationship. The growth of China, Russia's domestic problems and a foreign policy geared towards the West have muted Moscow's voice in Mongolia since '91. Nonetheless, whilst Moscow's political clout may have lessened, its presence is definitely not forgotten. Russia owns a fifty-one percent stake in Mongolia's railway (Mogi: 50/50 actually) and forty-nine percent of its largest state-owned copper mine (Mogi: not the biggest anymore) -- no small matter in a nation in which mining constitutes 18.5 percent of GDP, and where the most important and transport system for industry is rail. The Russian Federation also maintains a stake in over two hundred and fifty smaller ventures worth twenty million US dollars. On top of this, Russia is Mongolia's second largest importer after China, providing the petrochemicals necessary for the mining and extraction industries upon which the Mongolian economy is structured. 

Russia therefore maintains an important economic presence in Mongolia. Furthermore, Russian military cooperation with Mongolia has been steadily growing under President Putin. Russia and Mongolia have held joint yearly military actions in Selenga since 2008, and there is reason to believe that Mongolia will become the newest member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, in which it has maintained observer status since 2004. The memory of the Russo-Mongolian defeat of Japanese forces at Khalkhin Gol is frequently revived in order to foster recollections of the two nations' long history of cooperation.6 The stage is clearly set, therefore, for greater integration. 

Why now? 

Crucially, Putin's visit to Ulaanbaator (Mogi: couldn't Wikipedia it at least) last week comes at a time when both nations are increasingly gearing themselves towards the East, in a move away from the unreliable European economy. Since the collapse of the People's Republic, Mongolia has attempted to adopt a 'third neighbour' policy, seeking to balance Russian and Chinese influence with that of Europe and South-East Asia. This policy has been guided by a fear of economic, and subsequent political, overreliance upon its two primary neighbours. The efficacy of this policy is looking increasingly tenuous (Mogi: totally disagree), however, in the face of friction between Mongolia and Western corporations. The Oyu Tolgoi mine, for example, is a joint project between the Mongolian government and British-Australian corporation Rio Tinto, and was intended to represent the zenith of the 'third neighbour' policy. When at full capacity, it is predicted that the Oyu Tolgoi project will increase Mongolia's GDP by 30%. Despite this, delays and taxation arguments are hampering the mine's profitability -- it has not been open since November (Mogi: well, there you go, open for more than a year now) -- and foreign investors are becoming increasingly wary of becoming involved with Mongolia. Equally, Western governments themselves have done little to capitalise on Mongolia's 'third neighbour' policy; former prime minister Amarjargal Rinchinnyam has has gone on record as saying the government has been 'disappointed' by the visibility of their third neighbours in Mongolia.

Similarly, Russia is currently undergoing its own eastern tilt in light of increasingly hostile relations with Europe. Mongolia in particular is primed to benefit from Russia's ban of EU food products due to its extensive levels of meat production. This beneficent relationship goes both ways however. If a deteriorating situation in Europe, or a drop the price of crude oil, begins to threaten energy profits, then Eastern partners will be key. Mongolia has immense potential in this regard. Rapidly developing economies require ever greater energy levels in order to match development, and Mongolia's growth is certainly rapid. In 2011 Mongolia's GDP grew 17.5 percent. Admittedly, in recent years, growth has been slowing amid rising inflation and a weak tugrik. 'Weak' 2013 growth however still totalled 12.3 percent, and there is little evidence to suggest that Mongolia is on the brink of protracted stagnation. 

Sino-Russian Cooperation 

Whilst the potential of greater integration between Russia and Mongolia is undeniably significant, it is also necessary to point out that Russia is not the only great power presence in the region. China's stake in the nation is significant -- it is the country's largest foreign investor, and also has significant ethnic considerations when it comes to Mongolian interaction: there are more ethnic Mongolians living in China than there are in Mongolia. Several publications have interpreted the Chinese presence in Mongolia as posing an inevitable threat to Russia's desire for influence in the region. 

However, such zero sum assessments of Mongolian foreign policy overlook the nuances through which international relations frequently operates. One need only look at the recent trilateral summit between Russia, China and Mongolia to see the extent to which these nations can be defined by cooperation rather than conflict. Furthermore, each nation serves to fill an export niche within the overall trade network between the three countries. China uses Mongolia's raw materials to support its economic boom, whilst Mongolia utilises Russian energy supplies to fuel its extraction industries. Russia, meanwhile, is looking to import cheap goods produced in China, especially as it increasingly moves away from European trade. Rather than forming a conflict of interest therefore, Russia, China and Mongolia's shared investments are mutually reinforcing and maintain strong growth potential. 

The Future of Russian-Mongolian Relations 

Mongolia's declining interest in a 'third neighbour' policy (Mogi: disagree entirely here too) is therefore both pragmatic and somewhat inevitable given its common economic space between China and Russia. The role of the Russian government, therefore, should be to promote this space as much as possible. China is currently considering the establishment of a free trade zone between itself and Mongolia. Whilst the suggestion has been made as far back as May, Russia should seriously invest in setting up a special free trade partnership between the EEU and Mongolia, as well as use diplomatic means to push for a free trade agreement between China and Mongolia. Creating a common economic space between these three zones would boost trade and streamline the energy-extraction flow from Russia through Mongolia and finally to China. Certainly there are obstacles to overcome in achieving this goal -- sticky issues such as the differing track gauge between Chinese and Russian railways is just one example.16 Nonetheless the economic benefit to working through such problems is real and significant, and if Russia is to benefit from the global reorientation towards China, Mongolia is the perfect place to start.

Link to article


Mongolia-China Youth Experience Exchange Program Underway

September 15 ( As part of intergovernmental cooperation between Mongolia and China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia is launching  its third year of a Mongolia-China youth exchange program in politics, business, society, culture and sports, in collaboration with the Mongolian Youth Federation.

For the Mongolia-China Youth Experience Exchange Program, 60 youth from China are visiting Mongolia from September 10-16th.

The Chinese youth participating in the program are delegates from China's government, the All-China Youth Federation, and China's young leaders in politics, business, society, art, culture, and sports.

As part of the program, the Mongolia-China Youth Business Conference was organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia on September 12th. Youth from both countries exchanged views on their nations' business environment, seeking opportunities for cooperation, and held an open discussion for sharing their experience.

Talented, successful young people with businesses in construction, real estate, railway, roads, travel, IT, energy, education, and agriculture in China came together with young Mongolian entrepreneurs in construction, roads, transport, banking and finance.

This is the first time the Mongolia-China Youth Business Conference has been held, and it is expected to be organized in a wider range next year.

Link to article


Mongolia and DPRK to Cooperate in Science and Technology

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 15 (MONTSAME) Mongolia's Ministry of Education and Sciences will cooperate with North Korea's National Committee of Science and Technology (NCST).

A cooperation memorandum was signed last week in Pyongyang city by M.Ganbold, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the DPRK, and by Mr Jang Ryong Hyog, a deputy head of the NCST. 

Present at the signing ceremony were also diplomats of the Mongolian Embassy in North Korea and officials of the NCST.  

Link to article


FormLAB Exhibition Series in Mongolia

September 15 (U.S. Embassy) FormLAB, a multi-country exhibition series that re-activates how the spectator views artworks not only as finished objects but also as process and happening, is holding simultaneous exhibitions at Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art and Gallery 976 in Ulaanbaatar.

·         Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Preview on September 16, 2014 at 6-9 pm
Performances on September 16, 2014 at 7pm

·         Gallery 976, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
September 23-October 12, 2014

FormLAB was founded in 2007 by artist Les Joynes (US) as a collaborative and nomadic extension of his studio practice and as an observable space for intercultural creative experimentation.

For FormLAB 2014 Joynes works with artist/designer Hagen Betzwieser (Germany), contemporary artists from Blue Sun and Human Nature Love Freedom, Mongolian contrabass/ix xuur musician Monkbat Myagmarjav (Mongolia) and contemporary dancer Enkhgerel (Mongolia). Participating from Blue Sun (Mongolia) include: Dalkh-Ochir (Mongolia) Blue Sun's founder, Enkhbold (Mongolia), Batkholboo (Mongolia), Batzorig (Mongolia). Also collaborating are members of contemporary band Mohanik (Mongolia): Davaajargal Tsaschikher, Tsogt Sambalkhundev Enerelt Otgonbaatar, and Batbayar Ganbaatar, Each of these participants are considered pioneers of contemporary art, music and dance in Mongolia and have exhibited and or performed in galleries, museums and other venues in Europe, Asia and the USA.

FormLAB challenges the notion of the passive consumer. It entreats museum audiences to respond in a more active and reactive sense to art by presenting the work not in static form but as a constantly evolving art-making process. The mutating and radical nature of the collaborative process leads to unexpected discoveries and brings new meaning to the notions of local and global art communities.

Creating a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration FormLAB provides a base where artists from diverse various cultural backgrounds can learn from each other. Using combinations that hybridize disciplines leads to advancement in the arts and its connection with cultures as they themselves are mutating and evolving. FormLAB examines these structures and works to catalyze the development of interdisciplinary relationships into practice – in discourse and in artmaking.

FormLAB-Mongolia is supported by the U.S. Department of State; CEC ArtsLink, New York; The Mongolian Ministry of Culture and the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) ArtSpire Program.

For Inquiries contact or and

Link to release


Back to top

Social, Environmental and Other

Five Thousand Footballs Project Launched to Promote Sports in Schools

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 15 (MONTSAME) A ceremony took place Sunday to launch the "5,000 balls" project initiated by the President Ts.Elbegdorj.

In its frames, five thousand soccer balls together with textbooks about football will be delivered to some 800 secondary schools across the country. At the ceremony, the official partner of the Mongolian Football Federation (MFF)--the "MCS Coca Cola" company--gave the gifts to children at the Central Stadium, after which young footballers showed a demo game. 

Present at the ceremony were also L.Gantomor, the Minister of Education and Science; A.Ganbaatar, an advisor to the President and vice president of the MFF; B.Ganbold, the MFF president; Urs Zanitti, an executive director of the Project on Asian Football Development; Stephen Sonderman, a director of the "One World--Football" project for Asian region; and John Hibbert, a spokesman of the World Vision International Organization in Mongolia.  

Link to article


Mongolia Finishes 2014 FILA Wrestling World Championships with 1 Gold and 3 Bronze

September 15 ( The 2014 FILA Wrestling World Championships in the Men's Greco-Roman Wrestling, Men's Freestyle Wrestling and Women's Freestyle Wrestling tournaments successfully ended at "Gymnastics Palace" in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on September 14, 2014.

Mongolian National Team participated with its 16 athletes both 8 wrestlers in the Men's and Women's categories and on the Day 2, E.Nyam-Ochir, Men's 61 kg and G.Mandakhnaran, Men's 65 kg, have won Bronze medals.

As of Women's Team, our female wrestlers grabbed a Gold by S.Tserenchimed, 60 kg and a Bronze by O.Burmaa, 75 kg.

The World Champion title by 19 years old age S.Tserenchimed is the fifth Gold medal in Mongolian freestyle wrestling history.

Before, Mongolia won its first and second Gold medals by Zeveg OIDOV, Men's 62 kg, in Istanbul, Turkey in 1974 and in Minsk, USSR in 1975; by Khorloo BAYANMUNKH, Men's 100 kg, in Minsk, USSR in 1975; and Soronzonbold BATTSETSEG, Women's 59 kg, in Moscow, Russia in 2010.

Mongolian Men's and Women's teams both achieved sixth places respectively, thus accredited to compete in the Teams competitions at the 2015 FILA Wrestling World Cup.

Link to article


About Participation in FILA Wrestling World ChampionshipMontsame, September 15


Mogi: Hmm, not the best nomads we are, huh?

Mongolia Finishes Fifth at First World Nomad Games Held in Kyrgyzstan

September 15 ( The 2014 World Nomad Games were successfully organized at Issyk-Kul in Cholpon-Ata city of Kyrgyzstan with a closing ceremony held on September 14, where 22 national teams with over 430 athletes from 19 countries have participated in 10 sports categories.

The Games were held in Alysh (traditional wrestling on the belt), At Chabysh (longdistance horse race), Zhorgo Salysh (sport races of amblers at great distance), Kok-Boru (horse game in which two teams attempt to carry a goat or calf carcass into the opposing team's end zone), Kunan Chabysh (three years old horse race), Ordo (game with alchiks or anklebones), Toguz Korgool (mancala game), Oodarysh or Er Enish (wrestling on horseback), Salbuurun (eagle hunting) as well as presentation performances of ethnic sport games, cultural, musical and theatrical events from various nations were also presented.

At the first World Nomad Games, the host nation of Kyrgyzstan collected a total of 55 medals (16 Gold, 20 Silver and 19 Bronze) from various events followed by the Team of Kazakhstan with 28 medals (10+9+9) and Turkmenistan with 3 Gold and 3 Bronze medals. The fourth place went to Tajikistan (1+0+3) and the Team of Mongolia stood at the fifth place with 7 medals (0+1+6).

Following the five-day festivity, a broad range gala concert was performed, where well-known artists from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Turkey, United States, and Kyrgyzstan have participated. Moreover, greeting messages were delivered by the President of Kazakhstan N.A.Nazarbaev, President of Turkey R.T.Erdogan, President of Tatarstan R.N.Minnikhanov, Second Vice President of Afghanistan M.K.Khalili, President of the Olympic Council of Asia Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah, FIFA President J.S.Blatter, FIDE President K.N.Ilyumzhinov, President of Russian Wrestling Federation M.G.Mamiashvili and other officials.

To note, the World Nomad Games was first proposed by the President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev during the official visit of then Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Kyrgyz Republic held on February 01-02, 2011.

Link to article


25 Best Adventure Marathons in the World: Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset

Who: 100 runners

When: August 5, 2015

Why it's unique: The full or ultra version of this single track lakeside marathon takes your breath away for a number of reasons – the dark start though the windblown wooded lowland, the 2,400-feet ascent to Chichee pass and, of course, the sweeping views of Hovsgol National Park and its alpine lake, one of the largest single bodies of drinkable fresh water in the world. []

Link to page


3 Weeks in Mongolia - The Long Journey, In Pictures


September 14 -- If you've been following this blog for a while, you'd know I made a 30 Before 30 List few years ago. The first one on the list was "Go to Ulaanbaatar". I don't when or how this fascination with Mongolia began but I was pretty awestruck by this country. I also (in)famously talked about Why I never traveled out of India so far. Apart from the reasons mentioned in the post, I also never thought of traveling out of India because visiting some country for a week or two didn't really sound exciting. So, as soon as I quit my job and had all the time in the world, the first thing I did was to book myself a ticket to Mongolia - The Land of Eternal Blue Skies!

Link to photo story



September 14 (QNews) I recently conceded to two things most alarming: camping (ie really camping, in a tent, without the Sheraton sign) and dressing as a MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra). No it wasn't my regular Friday night at home, this was the adventure of a lifetime: mountain biking in Mongolia.

Now other than Genghis Khan and a sizzling lamb dish, I have to admit my knowledge of Mongolia was fairly light, but 'Come to Mongolia' the brochure said, 'wild Mongolia in Summer' it said. So, a small group of cyclists and I (note the separation between myself and cyclist) booked our spots and headed over to Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia). A quick overnight and then into the combie vans (Russian versions of the VW) to drive to the centre of Mongolia. From there we would cycle 550km back to a pick-up point in 10 days. Sounds easy right!

Camp night 1 came with the fraught realisation that a yoga mat isn't really ideal sleeping material and as I heard the self inflating mattresses go up around me I had to fight the urge to secretly stab them during the night (the mattresses that is). Dinner conversation centred around the extent of 'training' people had done (during which I very much felt like Fat Amy screaming 'horizontal running').   It was an average of 50km a day and 'how hard could that be?'   Mongolia is a very cold country, read minus forty in winter, so Summer at 4 degrees overnight should have been a treat. The trick for sleeping and riding would be layers and protection. The cycling part proved to be VERY challenging. The paths were more rocks or bumpy soil (both of which looked decidedly smooth in every photo I took) and the hills were often long and relentless climbs. Saddle soreness rarely subsides despite constant assurances that it would get better in a couple of days.

What you do discover with a cycling trip though is the wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and other human beings. Aside from desperate gasping for air and the fact that I was usually at the tail end of the group, it was a perfect time to chat about life in a mobile and iPad free experience. Other than the odd click of cameras it was just us and nature. Mongolia is very sparse and the locals are somewhat nomadic but often very friendly and would usually stop in to our camp to check out what we were doing and offer some vodka if they liked us. Our awesome guide Scotty advised that every group gets a slightly different experience and two trips are rarely the same.

Showering was limited to opportunities in freezing creeks for most of the trip but no-one really seemed too fussed. All in all it was a physically challenging and incredibly liberating experience. We went with Bike Asia   ( – ask for Scott) who specialise in cycling tours around the more unusual Asian destinations. Mongolia isn't for everyone but they have a range of tours which can include nightly stays in guest houses or hotels - so check the details to make sure you are happy it suits your style. As much as I hate to admit it, I am keen to do another tour. They have a cycling tour to Tiger Leaping Gorge in China which includes overnight stays in Guest Houses, wifi and warm showers.... Because my moto now is definitely 'camping, don't put me down for camping'.

Link to article

Back to top


P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

No comments:

Post a Comment