Monday, October 12, 2015

[GUF ramps up; SGK ratifies AIIB, UBTZ hikes freight prices; and Mongolia not a bad place to die]

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Monday, October 12, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

TRQ up 22% in last 6 session


GUF trading flat at A$0.026in early trading

Guildford Coal: Ramp Up to 1.5Mtpa Annualised Production on Track for BNU Mine

October 12 -- Guildford Coal Limited (Guildford or the Company) (ASX:GUF) is pleased to provide an update on the ramp up to commercial coal production levels at its Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) coking coal mine in Mongolia. The Company is providing operational guidance for its BNU coal operation based on positive progress of mining operations in the BNU Pit 2 area.

Progress to date at BNU Pit 2 has met Q3 2015 production targets and delivered a Q4 2015 forecast in line with the production target of 125,000 tonne per month. Once reached, operations will be producing at a 1.5Mtpa annualised rate. This ramp up has been delivered with zero lost time injuries and environmental incidents. BNU Operations has now reached 1.34 million man hours without an LTI and remains focused on delivering further ramp up in volumes safely.

The following table outlines the actual production volumes for Quarter 3 - 2015 and forecast volumes for Quarter 4 – 2015:










Coal Mined (tonnes)







BNU Operations has delivered the increased coal volumes at direct mining costs of US$1.85 per cubic metre of material in Q3 2015. This is estimated to place the operation within the bottom end of first quartile mining unit costs compared to global coal producers.

The direct cash cost positive margin on the hard coking coal product is forecast to be between US$9/t and US$11/t for the last quarter of 2015. Strong operational performance has maintained forecast margins despite continued weakness in coking coal markets.

While the market continues to remain soft there are some positive signs and there is still strong buyer interest for the BNU coking coal and Guildford remains committed to developing its Mongolian business in the most capital and cost efficient methods.

The following sequence of photos shows the development of the BNU Pit 2 and the export of hard coking coal product to end users in China.

Link to release


276 trading -4.2% at HK$0.23 in morning session

MEC: Adjustment to Conversion Price Under 2014 Convertible Notes

The Conversion Price under the 2014 Convertible Notes is adjusted from HK$0.91 to HK$0.90 per Conversion Share.

October 9 -- Mongolia Energy Corporation Limited (the "Company") refers to its announcement dated 21 November 2014 in relation to, among others, completion of the subscription of the 2014 Convertible Notes; its announcement dated 12 August 2015 in relation to adjustment to the Conversion Price under the 2014 Convertible Notes; and its announcement dated 5 October 2015 in relation to completion of issue of Shares under General Mandate (the "Announcements"). Unless otherwise defined herein, capitalized terms used herein shall have the same meanings as those defined in the Announcements.

Upon completion of issue of a total of 14,449,760 Subscription Shares as announced on 5 October 2015, and pursuant to the terms and conditions of the 2014 Convertible Notes, the Conversion Price of the 2014 Convertible Notes is adjusted from HK$0.91 to HK$0.90 per Conversion Share.

As a result, the total number of Shares issuable according to the outstanding principal and interests at the maturity date (i) under the 2014 GI Convertible Note upon full exercise will be 692,958,380 Shares; (ii) under the 2014 CTF Convertible Note upon full exercise will be 3,098,383,561 Shares, and (iii) under the 2014 SF Convertible Notes upon full exercise will be 638,733,000 Shares. As of today, no conversion has been made by any of the respective holders of the 2014 Convertible Notes. Save for the above adjustments, all other terms and conditions of the respective 2014 Convertible Notes remain unchanged.

The Conversion Price adjustments have been reviewed and confirmed by a financial adviser pursuant to the terms and conditions of the 2014 Convertible Notes.


The table below illustrates the shareholding structures of the Company as at the date of this announcement and under the following scenarios (assuming that there is no other change in the issued share capital and shareholding structure of the Company from the date of this announcement up to the occurrence of the relevant events mentioned below):

Link to release


NUR: Issue of Convertible Notes Under General Mandate

October 9, National United Resources -- On 9 October 2015 (after trading hours), the Company and each of the Subscribers entered into the Subscription Agreements respectively in respect of the issue of and subscription for the Convertible Bonds in the aggregate principal amount of HK$197,207,700. Completion is subject to the fulfillment of all conditions set out in the paragraph headed "Conditions Precedent" below. Detailed terms of the Convertible Bonds are set out in the paragraph headed "Principal terms of the Convertible Bonds" below.

As at the date of this announcement, the Company has a total of 5,606,660,500 Shares in issue. Assuming there is no further issue or repurchase of the Shares, based on the initial Conversion Price of HK$0.265 per Conversion Share (subject to adjustments) and assuming full conversion of the Convertible Bonds at the initial Conversion Price, a total of 744,180,000 Conversion Shares will be issued, representing approximately 13.27% of the total number of Shares in issue as at the date of this announcement and approximately 11.72% of the total number of Shares in issue as enlarged by the issue of the Conversion Shares. The Conversion Shares will be allotted and issued pursuant to the General Mandate.

The net proceeds from the issue of the Convertible Bonds (after deducting all related expenses), are estimated to be approximately HK$197,160,000, the Company intends to apply the net proceeds as to (i) approximately 33% for settlement of outstanding debts and related interests; (ii) approximately 47% for investment activities when such investment opportunities arise; and (iii) approximately 20% as general working capital to strengthen the Company's financial position.

Completion is subject to the fulfillment of conditions precedent as set out in the paragraph headed "Conditions Precedent" below. As the Subscription Agreements may or may not be completed, Shareholders and potential investors are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the Shares.

Link to release


HSBC Upgrades Centerra Gold Price Target to C$8.60, Reaffirms BUY Rating

October 9 ( HSBC reaffirmed their buy rating on shares of Centerra Gold (TSE:CG) in a research note released on Thursday, reports. HSBC currently has a C$8.60 price target on the stock, up from their previous price target of C$8.10.

Link to article


Centerra Gold PT Raised to C$7.00 at BMO Capital Markets, Potential Downside 7.16%

October 9 ( Centerra Gold (TSE:CG) had its price target lifted by stock analysts at BMO Capital Markets from C$6.25 to C$7.00 in a report released on Wednesday, Marketbeat reports. BMO Capital Markets' target price suggests a potential downside of 7.16% from the stock's previous close.

Centerra Gold (TSE:CG) opened at 7.54 on Wednesday. Centerra Gold has a 1-year low of $3.96 and a 1-year high of $7.98. The firm has a market cap of $1.78 billion and a PE ratio of 36.96. The firm's 50-day moving average is $7.08 and its 200 day moving average is $6.89.

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +0.14%, ALL -4.27%, T-Bills ₮8.84 Billion, Stocks ₮151.3 Million

October 9 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Historic low ₮1,997.26/USD set September 11

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, October 9 Close


































































































Bank rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,992 Sell ₮1,998), Khan (Buy ₮1,990 Sell ₮1,997), Golomt (Buy ₮1,992 Sell ₮1,998), XacBank (Buy ₮1,989.5 Sell ₮1,997.5), State Bank (Buy ₮1,990 Sell ₮1,998)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates


BoM issues 95 billion 1-week bills at 13, total outstanding -63.3 billion ₮135 billion

October 9 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 95 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


Sample Survey of Foreign Tourists in Mongolia

October 8 (BoM) --

Link to report (in Mongolian)


What are the challenges towards achieving better public participation in Mongolia?

October 9, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT)

Oyunbadam Davaakhuu, Economy Policy Program, Open Society Forum - Mongolia

Link to video

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Politics & Legal

Ulaan Ch. Appointed Chairman of Budget Standing Committee

October 9 ( The 2015 Autumn Plenary Session of the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) has issued decision to appoint member of the parliament (MP) Chultem ULAAN to position of Chairman of the State Budget Standing Committee on occasion of reassignment of previous chairperson MP Bayarbaatar BOLOR as Minister for Finance of Mongolia.

The decision was accepted by 88.9% of the votes. Mr. Ch.Ulaan was promoted by proposal of "Justice Coalition" merged from Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP).

Link to article


Mongolian President makes statement at parliament regarding earthquake preparedness in Ulaanbaatar

October 9 ( President Ts.Elbegdorj has made a statement during the afternoon Autumn Plenary Session of the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) on October 08, 2015.

He said: "Members of the Parliament should know about the current activity of earthquake in Ulaanbaatar city. This issue concerns all residents of the Capital city. I am making this statement so that you are ready take measures in case of emergency and not to panic.

According to relevant research organizations, earthquake is getting active from year to year in Ulaanbaatar. Its magnitude is also increasing each year. Last time, 4.4-magnitude earthquake hit Ulaanbaatar at 05:35 pm on October 03, 2015. Especially, it was noticeable to people who live in apartments. Its epicenter was just 20 km away from the city. 

The National Security Council had meetings on the matter in 2010, 2012 and 2014 respectively and relevant working group was established. However, only few officials and specialists have discussed it. It is time to pay more attention to this matter.

The earthquake in Haiti has brought huge damage to the state. Terrible event of Haiti shows us that we need to be ready as it is possible that we could face the same disaster.

In case of earthquake, there will be huge damage and human loss as 20-40% of all buildings in the Capital city cannot resist 6.6 magnitude. What will happen if it hits the city in wintertime? The danger of earthquake is now real and we need to be prepared."   

Link to article


President Ts.Elbegdorj raises earthquake awarenessMontsame, October 9


Mongolia Parliament ratifies AIIB founding articles

Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) At Thursday's plenary meeting, the State Great Khural considered and approved the bills on ratifying the Articles of Agreement on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The articles were signed by PMs and finance ministers of 57 founding member states in Beijing this June 29.

China has initiated an establishment of the Bank, while Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries have proposed joining the bank as founding members. Establishing the bank will help settle the financial source of investment for infrastructure developments and ensure fair distribution of capital throughout the region, and is of great importance in giving impetus to the regional development, considered the Cabinet.

At the end of plenary meeting, the bills were backed by 78.5 percent votes.  

Link to article


World Statistics Days 2015 in Mongolia, October 8

Date: Thursday, 08 October 2015

The celebration of World Statistics Day coincides with the 2015 Population and Housing Bycensus in Mongolia.

The following activities will be organized to mark the World Statistics Day in Mongolia:

·         The National Statistical Office of Mongolia will organize a series of events under the theme "World Statistics Day" for the students from the national and private universities, studying statistics and economies, on 16 October, 2015, and for the staff members from the Statistics Divisions in district of Ulaanbaatar and the Municipal Statistics Department, and the NSO Headquarters on 20 October, 2015.

·         The senior staff of the NSO will give interviews to the mass media to promote the World Statistics Day and the operation of the NSO.

·         A promotional video for the World Statistics Day will be broadcasted through 3 big screens in the main streets and squares of the capital city. Also, it will be distributed to the regional statistical offices in order to publicize the event for the citizens in rural areas. 

·         The logo of the World Statistics Day will be placed on the taxi-top advertisement.

·         Banners and posters of the World Statistics Day will be placed at the entrance of the regional statistical offices and the NSO Headquarters.

·         The staff members in the national statistical system will launch a public campaign to publicize the importance and the logo of the World Statistics Day and the operation of the NSO throughout the social network.

Link to release

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UB Railway hikes transportation rates

October 9 ( The "Ulaanbaatar Railway" Mongolian and Russian Joint Venture has decided to increase the transportation costs as of 1st November. For example, the transportation of non-ferrous and ferrous metals will be increased by 20%, and petroleum and petroleum products and all construction materials will increase by 10%. Also, "Ulaanbaatar Railway" has decided to increase the exchange rate of the currency from Swiss franc to Mongolian tugrik by MNT 250-300 bringing it in line with international passenger transportation costs.

Link to article


RC Inspection's Mongolia Laboratory is ISO 17025 accredited

October 9 (World Coal) RC Inspection Group's RCI Analytical Services, based in Mongolia, is now ISO 17025 accredited. This is the second accredited laboratory for the company – the first is its Ukrainian laboratory. The company wanted ISO 17025 accreditations for its laboratory activities in order to ensure a high level of assurance to its clients.

The accreditation shows the Mongolian laboratory has successfully fulfilled the ISO evaluation process, which includes an assessment of the laboratory's compliance with the technology programme requirements.

RC Inspection has indicated this accreditation has been a key step in its overall future development, enabling it to carry out fully independent qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the chemical elements contained in metals listed on the LME. The relevant and required techniques are used to define the purity and minimum assay that the registered brands must meet.

The company's laboratories, based in the Netherlands, Mongolia and Ukraine, provide analytical science problem solving and testing capabilities to a wide range of customers across many industries. ?According to RC Inspection, this accreditation broadens its reach by certifying the quality of the data acquisition and analysis processes used across a range of techniques and capabilities.

RCI Analytical Services is currently working on getting all the laboratories accredited under ISO/IEC 17025 and are actively participating in inter-laboratory tests and international round robins.

Link to article


Transforming Construction in Mongolia using Supplementary Cementitious Materials

NAMA Profile #2 | Seeking support for implementation | May 2015

One dilemma that developing countries face is that the process of improving basic infrastructure often also leads to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For example, cement production techniques are responsible for a high percentage (5-10%) of global CO2 emissions.

In Mongolia, vast grasslands and erratic climates have historically defined and determined nomadic traditions. When the weather would change, herders could pack up everything and move to more friendly pastures. However, in recent years, the unpredictable climate has become consistently hotter and drier, leaving much of the grasslands unsuitable for grazing. As a result, herders are leaving their nomadic culture behind and moving to cities in search of new livelihoods. Together with cultural changes, Mongolia is experiencing a rapid economic transformation generated by mineral discoveries, and, in 2012, the country's GDP growth was 12.3%, one of the highest rates globally for that year. In addition, the country is undertaking its largest infrastructure investments ever, including spending US$40.5bn on energy, housing, rail, roads and industry, much of which requires cement production. Cement production, which as mentioned above, is extremely GHG intensive, emitting approximately one ton of CO2 per ton of cement on average (in Mongolia 1.2 tCO2e). Cement production makes up 25% of total coal consumption in Mongolia.

NAMA description

The proposed NAMA aims to initiate the transformation of Mongolia's construction sector towards a less carbon intensive development path through introducing supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) and replacing up to 70% of the cement used in concrete. The proposed NAMA represents an extremely innovative approach because it will introduce an environmentally sound alternative to portland cement, thus leading to a transformation of the building materials sector.

Intended impact and output

This NAMA will establish a 350,000 t/y SCM production facility, and help with the design of supportive policies and management of the standardization process. The project will recycle fly ash from local coal-fired power plants as raw material, and is expected to result in a reduction of approximately 420,000 tCO2 emissions annually.

Link to profile


PMI Mongolia 2015 Annual Conference Presentations

Link to presentations


The New Media Group: Persistence Is the Key to Prevail in the Mongolian Market

October 9 (2 Geeks, 1 City) The New Media Group has been our first experience interviewing a startup in Asia.

With a 80 people team, offices in USA and headquartered in Mongolia, they are a great example of entrepreneur spirit.

Mend-Orshikh Amartaivan original intention was not to build an agency, but… Ok, he can explain better:

Link to video page


Invest Mongolia 2015 Post Conference Report

Message from CEO

I am glad to inform you that Invest Mongolia 2015 has been a great success. We managed to attract distinguished speak-ers from both public and private sector and record high number of audience even in such a difficult time. You can find several statistics in our summary section. As promised we discussed following points and tried to come up with actiona-ble and measurable steps for government of Mongolia.:

·         We started the day one with very important panel discussion on the Impact of Mega Projects, especially that of Oyu Tolgoi to the Mongolian Economy. From the public side, we had D. Zorigt, Minister of Energy to speak.

·         Ambassadors from UK, Czech and Turkey have discussed measures that Mongolia should take to reach out to the world and the challenges.

·         The implications and opportunities of China's one belt one road initiatives have been discussed by Moody's, CRU and representatives from Government of Mongolia.

·         Leaders from top four banks of Mongolia, along with IFC and the central bank, have expressed their honest views on the current economy, rising NPL and the challenges that banking sector faces.

·         Several mining sector experts explained declining demand of commodities from China and its implications to Mon-golia.

·         Infrastructure developments and financing options were discussed by experts.

·         JPX, JICA and other experts have talked about the opportunities with Japan.

·         Real estate experts including APIP discussed the surviving strategies in the difficult condition.

·         Importance of non-mining sector, especially that of information technology, tourism and retail has been explained by Thales and others to diversify the economy.

·         The political outlook after the next election was debated by leaders from current Government and influential politi-cal analysts.

·         The alternative strategies after the next election to replace current policies have been proposed by leaders from op-position party.

·         We wrapped up our two day conference with an exciting conversation among major private investors where they discussed the challenges and suggested measurable and actionable steps to government. Panel was attended by In-vest Mongolia agency and we hope that the suggestions will reach to correct decision makers.

We were glad to see the involvement and interest from professionals working in Mongolia, government and even general public. Even with current challenges there was still a lot of hope and optimism among all the stake holders. Businesses and investors realized that with will and commitment from politicians, this country can realize its true potential. We hope that the constructive opinions, which were proposed during the panels and informal meetings at the conference, serve as yard stick for policy makers and result into positive impact on the state strategies, policies and regulations in a future.

In addition, we will soon publish a report on Experts' opinions to regain trust from investors helped by several speakers of the event.

With the right changes, we still believe that Mongolia has a bright future.

We will continue to educate and drive our investors to Mongolia through our future events. We hope to see similar inter-ests and support from everyone in our upcoming events.

In your service,

Masa Igata

Founder and CEO

Frontier Securities

Link to report

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Private bus companies end strike over unpaid revenue

October 9 ( The private companies involved in public transportation called a strike, without warning on 7th October. Many depressed people were at the bus stops and bus stations on last two days. The heads of the Public Transportation Authority have met with the bus companies, this, however, has not solved the problem. Therefore, the City Representative Meeting intended to resolve the issue yesterday. The strike is ended today, in case of their problem is solved during the meeting. The strikers have attacked the "Ulaanbaatar Smart Card Company", which is responsible for the public transportation reform. In particular, the "Ulaanbaatar Smart Card Company" has only returned 50%-60% of their total revenue, leaving the private contractors at a loss.

Link to article


Chinggis Khaan Airport Transit Hall Construction Nears Completion

October 9 ( The construction of transit-hall at "Chinggis Khaan" airport, beneficial to the development of domestic aviation companies and to boost tourism sector, had started in last July.

As of today, the construction is more than 80% complete and expected to be completed by November 1.

Link to article


UB plans underground parking lots on Chinggis Square, Asashoryu Park

October 9 ( City Council held its regular session yesterday and discussed the implementation of "Carless Street" project. 

According to the presentation by Road, Transportation and Infrastructure Deputy at City Governor N.Gantumur, underground parking lots are planned to be built at Asashoryu park and in front of Chinggis square in scope of the "Carless Street" project. 

The parking lots' construction will be done through the financing of companies owning lands in the area.

  • Three - storey parking lot located in front of Chinggis square will have space of 800 cars.
  • Two - storey parking lot located in Asashoryu park will have space of 180 cars.

Complex with park, trade center and fountain is expected to be constructed at the top of the parking lots invested by land owners who will hold full rights of use.

Link to article


More than 70% of bus passengers now hold smart cards says deputy mayor

October 9 ( Residents are giving positive feedbacks on introduction of smarts cards as the payment method for bus fee, and more than 70 percent of the passengers had already bought smart cards as of October 1, reported by the Finance and Economic Affairs Deputy of Capital City Governor N.Bataa.

According to the official statement by "Ulaanbaatar smart card" LLC, total of 449,400 smart cards were sold as of October 01.

Specifically, following number of different cards was purchased.

  • Simple card – 274589,
  • Children`s card (students of secondary school) – 65430,
  • Elder`s card – 78151,
  • Disabled resident`s card – 23836,
  • Student card - 7594.

Link to article

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Permanent Neutrality

by Julian Dierkes

October 8 (Mongolia Focus) At the UN General Assembly, on Sept 29 2015, Pres. Ts Elbegdorj included a very brief statement in his address that,

Mongolia has pursued an peaceful, open, multi-pillar foreign policy. This stance enabled us to declare Mongolia in a state of permanent neutrality. Our national laws and international commitments [?] are consistent with neutrality principles. Therefore I kindly ask your sympathy and support for Mongolia's peaceful, open, neutral and active foreign policy efforts. I am convinced that Mongolia's status of permanent neutrality will contribute to the strengthening of peace, security, and development in our region and the world at large.

( 16′:42″ – 17′:23″)

Is Permanent Neutrality a New Star in the Firmament of Mongolian Foreign Policy?

It seems that the discussion of some kind of declared and recognized status as permanently neutral is a new initiative for Mongolian foreign policy, but at the same time, it appears to be a logical extension of the Third Neighbour policy rather than a real departure from this.

In short, permanent neutrality takes one of the main motivations for the Third Neighbour Policy – the desire to balance two overbearing neighbours by turning to virtual neighbours – to a next step by permanently declaring Mongolia to remain in between these two neighbours, not siding with one or the other, and not aligning militarily with any outside party to neutralize any – admittedly somewhat absurd – notion of threats against these neighbours emanating from Mongolia.

It is also partly a defensive maneuver to counter pressure from Russia toward a customs union, and from China toward membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

It is an extension of the Third Neighbour Policy by endearing Mongolia further to virtual neighbours like Canada, India, or Germany by not only enshrining democracy, but also enshrining an underdog status vis-a-vis its neighbours.

Finally, this declaration is aimed at the UN where Mongolia is a candidate for membership in the Human Rights Council and where Pres Elbegdorj may well be hoping for a future field of activities beyond his final term as president.

A Brief Chronology

The notion of Mongolian permanent neutrality seems to have arisen very quickly. Pres Elbegdorj seems to have first mentioned this idea in an editorial published on Sept 8 2015.

Following this public announcement, the National Security Council took this topic up on Sept 9 and charged the president with initiating a bill to parliament that would enshrine neutrality permanently.

Since then the idea has been pushed by the President, but also by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was thus sent a precis on the notion of neutrality on Sept 10 suggesting that planning for this initiative had preceded the Sept 8 editorial.

So far, this proposal culminated in Pres Elbegdorj's speech to the UN General Assembly, though it was included toward the end of that speech in an off-hand manner.

What Does Neutrality Mean

Formally, the concept is enshrined in the Hague Convention's 1907 Sections V (land) and XIII (sea). In sum (my interpretation), neutral status trades protection of territory for non-involvement in conflicts, i.e. I will stay out of all (military) conflicts and return expect everyone to not invade me.

Neutral powers can still maintain a military for defensive purposes or (I assume and with some relevance to modern Mongolia) for peace-keeping purposes, though some neutral powers have disbanded their military (Costa Rica, for example).

Why? Strategic Thinking

Vis-a-Vis Third Neighbours

Mongolian neutrality reinforces perceptions and sympathy for the "plucky democracy". The club of declared neutral countries is not a bad club to be a member of with leaders such as Switzerland and Costa Rica, countries that – like Mongolia – have and aim to have a greater impact on international affairs than their economic significance or population size would suggest.

Vis-A-Vis Russia

By appealing to the world community to safeguard Mongolia's status as neutral, any threats to Mongolia or any Russian attempts to draw Mongolia closer into a Russian sphere of influence (for example the Eurasian Union, etc.) can be resisted. This may be parallel to Turkmenistan's intention in declaring neutrality in 1995.

Since the future will likely hold ever-closer (economic) relations between Mongolia and China, the neutrality declaration may assuage Russian fears that Mongolia might become a staging ground for aggression toward Russia, as absurd as that might seem at the moment given Mongolian popular antipathy toward China.

Vis-A-Vis China

Given Mongolian antipathy, any kind of military alignment with China is unlikely, but neutrality would offer a quasi-guarantee that Mongolia will not turn into a Russian buffer state against China in a military sense again.

In turn, the neutrality claim may well offer a "defense" against continuing Chinese attempts to coax Mongolia into membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, given the security-focused nature of that organization.

At the UN

Mongolia has embraced a number of global security initiatives through the UN. The abolition of capital punishment comes to mind, but also recognition of Mongolia's nuclear-free status. Roles in more limited bodies (chairing Community of Democracies, OSCE membership, hosting Freedom Online Coalition, hosting ASEM, etc.) have similarly bolstered Mongolia's credential as an actively engaged member of the international community.

For Elbegdorj

One of the questions that may present itself to Pres Elbegdorj is to find a role after the end of his final term, i.e. in summer 2017. Presidents Ochirbat and Bagabandi have become relatively quiet in their public roles (though Ochirbat continues to serve on Mongolia's Constitutional Court). President Enkhbayar has (in)famously re-entred the daily combat of party politics. While some have speculated that Pres Elbegdorj may harbour ambitions to "do a Putin" and somehow stand for re-election as president in 2021, his active engagement of the international community seems to suggest much more strongly that he may be on a low-key campaign for some kind of role at the UN, perhaps heading up a UN body or agency.


There have been some dissenting views in Mongolia. Disagreement has focused on two aspects,

1.    If push came to shove, Mongolia should side with Russia

2.    What does it mean to be permanently neutral and does this not limit options in the future massively.

Ambassador J. Enkhsaikhan (a preeminent expert on Mongolia's security, especially institutionalizing the nuclear weapon free zone status) has probably been the most vocal critic of the neutrality initiative.


Mendee J contributed significantly to my thinking and information about this issue.

Link to post


Interview with South Korean Ambassador to Mongolia

October 9 ( The South Korean Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Mongolia, Mr. U Sung gave interview to

-Before coming to Mongolia where have you worked?

-Since becoming a diplomat, this is my sixth appointment in a foreign country. I started my diplomat career in Chicago. Later, I worked in India, Washington, Indonesia, and Ottawa. It has been five months since I came to Mongolia as the South Korean Ambassador.

-It has not been long, since you came to Mongolia. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of diplomatic relation between Mongolia and South Korea. Could you mention some of the things that have taken place?

-The relations between our two countries have developed so rapidly over the last 25 years. The Presidents of two countries have made official visit in each other's countries. Foreign trade between Mongolia and South Korea has reached USD 370 million, which is 100 times more than 25 years ago. There are, currently, 30,000 Mongolian citizens living in South Korea, this means our country has the largest number of resident Mongolians. Also, there are also about 3000 Korean citizens living in Mongolia.

-What are you planning to work on, in order to deepen the relationship between Mongolia and South Korea?

-In the future, we will pay attention to make our relationship as tangible as possible, with real end-results, especially in the economical and culture sectors. Overseas Development Aid (ODA) is the international cooperation organization of South Korea. We have provided USD 300 million worth of economic aid to Mongolia via KOICA. Also, we would like to develop the culture sector, by increasing the number of culture events, and public and contact between our people in order to introduce South Korean culture to Mongolians. Therefore, we are working to establish a South Korean Culture Center on Seoul Street.

I am personally paying a lot of attention to the Doctor Lee Te Jun Memorable Park in Zaisan. Doctor Lee Te Jun was one of the people who were active in the Mongolian independence campaign. He also and shared his medical skills with Mongolians. We are currently undertaking repair works at this symbolic park of Mongolian and South Korean friendship. Next year, many Mongolians, Koreans, and many other tourists will be able to visit this park.

-What kind of interests do South Korean companies have in Mongolia?

-South Korean companies would like to work primarily in the infrastructure and construction sectors. These sectors are more important than any others. I think that many South Korean companies will participate in Mongolian Governmental infrastructure tenders.

-Many examples of South Korean best-practice are currently being used in Mongolia. One of them has been the "U-Money" bus pass. What opinions do you have about the application of South Korean technology in Mongolia?

-The smart card service was launched in Mongolia in July 2015. South Korean information technology has reached a high level. We will work to improve Mongolians skills in IT.

-Mongolians are very keen to make short trips to South Korea. What kind of changes will be made to visa requirements?

-Since coming to Mongolia, the thing I have heard most is about visas. We introduced new simplified visa requirements, which took effect from April 2015. In connection with this change, we have supplied 32,000 visas, which have resulted in a 60% increase of Mongolian visitors to South Korea. In connection with this change, the number of visas supplied and visa applicants have increased sharply. An issue of concern to our Embassy, the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mongolian Embassy in South Korea is that of illegal immigrants. This problem is hindering the progress of visa policy.

-What do you think about the Korean Peninsula issue?

-Mongolia has good long-term direct relations with North Korea. Therefore, we can say for sure that Mongolia can be a potential intermediary between South Korea and North Korea. I would like to ask for Mongolia to continue to provide support developments between South Korea and North Korea as it has been doing.   

Link to interview

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Health, Education

90% discount for 5,000 Mongolians on Hep B medicine Tenofovir

October 9 ( The U.S pharmacological company "MYLAN", the Asia-Pacific Hepatic Pathology Federation, the Mongolian Hepatic Pathology Federation, and the "Happy Veritas Hospital" are implementing the "Livelihood" Project. In accordance with the project implementation, the "Tenofovir" medicine will be sold to 5000 Mongolian people at a 90% discount. These beneficiaries must first undergo nine examinations before they can buy this anti-HBV medicine. These include:

1.    Biochemical livertest

2.    Kidney analysis

3.    Comprehensive blood test

4.    Urine test

5.    ECHO test

6.    Liver cirrhosis test

7.    HDV Test

8.    Antigen test of virus surface

9.    HBV count

Link to article


Get your free marmot plague vaccine shot!

October 9 ( Ministry of Health and Sports, and National Center of Zoonotic Disease held joint press conference on the issue of marmot plague. After the conference, we had interview with Director of NCZD N.Tsogbadrakh.

Another person has been just infected of the disease after the citizen of Khuvsgul province was dead due to the disease. Please give us details?

41 year old person in Darkhan city assumed of being infected is currently receiving treatment. But the diagnosis is not clear after we made bacteriological testing of the sample brought from Darkhan city. There were 40-50 people whom the patient had first-level contact. Then, 6 of them have been brought into the capital city and quarantined at their homes. Also, we have partly declared quarantine zone in Darkhan city.

Is there any integrated research on the disease conducted by the center? How many people have been infected until today?

The center has run the research on human sickness rate from the disease during the period of 1995 – 2014. In total, 82 people have been registered as infected, 34 of them were dead. This year, 9 people have been infected, and two were dead. Symptoms of marmot plague have been previously shown in majority of our country, 70% of total areas. 6 soums of those areas have "A" level infectious rate every year. During last 20 years, the disease infection rate has been increasing in countryside and showing a tendency for further spread in crowded areas including cities for last two years.

It is said that there are vaccines to prevent the disease. How much does it cost to get injected?

We injected 30 thousand dosages of vaccines nationwide during the period of July 15 – August 15. We injected herders, livestock, policemen, state emergency workers and hospital staff in rural areas, who are likely to be first exposed to the disease. Anyone who is necessary to travel to rural areas could get injected for free of charge at district health centers or National Center Zoonotic Disease.

Link to interview


The world's best and worst places to die, ranked: Mongolia 28th

October 7 (Washington Post) No one likes to think about the end, even if everyone knows it's coming. We prefer to prepare for more joyful milestones: birthdays and marriages, graduations and employment. These all factor into our measures of well-being — our quality of life.

We're repeatedly told to plan for retirement, yet we rarely talk about what will happen at the end of that slow sunset. As a result, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, we neglect to think about "dying better."

In its second Quality of Death Index, published Tuesday, the Economist ranks the quality of palliative care in 80 countries. As it did in 2010, the United Kingdom comes out on top. The U.S. ranks ninth.

The report distinguishes between end-of-life care and palliative care, which is defined by the World Health Organization as limited not only to care in the final stages of a terminal illness, but also includes early assessments, psychological attention and support systems.

Commissioned by the Lien Foundation, a Singaporean philanthropic organization, the index looks at indicators across five categories: palliative and health-care environment, human resources, affordability of care, quality of care and community engagement.

By and large, the greatest predictor of how a country fares on these measures is wealth. The list's top 20 is dominated by wealthy Western and Asian-Pacific countries. Australia and New Zealand are just behind the U.K. in second and third, while Taiwan and Singapore are sixth and 12th.

Though America's score of 80.8 (out of 100) is respectable, it's far below the 93.9 garnered by its mates across the pond. The report cites comprehensive national policies, the extensive integration of palliative care into its National Health Service and a strong hospice movement for the U.K.'s superior showing.

The index's surprise successes are Mongolia and Panama — 28th and 30th overall — two poorer countries that ranked above ostensibly more advanced places like South Africa and Brazil.

Mongolia owes its impressive record to a single doctor, Odontuya Davaasuren, who is leading the push for a national palliative care program.

Before she helped establish the Mongolian Palliative Care Society in 2000, the report notes, the country had no hospices or palliative care teaching programs, and used just two pounds of morphine a year.

"No one talked about it," Davaasuren tells The Economist. Now, there are ten palliative care facilities in Mongolia's capital alone.

In a statement for the International Palliative Care Leadership Development Initiative two years ago, the doctor recalled the cruel passing of a ten-year-old Mongolian girl from leukemia. With limited painkillers, her disease made it so she could not move, sleep or smile; "she suffered from severe pain until her death."

Davaasuren has assured that such cases are now increasingly rare. "Learning palliative care, doing palliative care, I feed my heart and brain," she said. "I believe that my life has been used well."

The full list of rankings is on page 15 of the report.

Link to article

Link to report (Mongolia page 46)


Speaker meets Ural Federal University delegation

Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold Friday received a delegation of the Ural Federal University of Russia.

The head of the delegation thanked the Speaker for the audience and said they are here to "boost cooperation in preparing specialists for mining sector". "Our university collaborates with Schools of Energy; Construction and Architecture; Mechanics and Transportation, and the Institute of Foreign Language at the Mongolian University of Sciences and Technology (MUST). In a scope of this cooperation, we exchange students, support ties between teachers, share textbooks, co-organize conferences, symposium and exhibitions, and host summer training," he said.

In order to expand the collaboration. "we have met with students majoring in mining engineering and technics in Darkhan and Erdenet cities," Mr Popov added.

The Speaker Enkhbold noted that Mongolia is rich in minerals and underlined its needs in high class mining and energy engineers and technical experts.

"Due to some reasons, a number of Mongolian students studying in Russia has declined. I have considered this matter with the Minister of Education, sharing issues of promoting Mongolian students in Russia and augmenting scholarships for Mongolian students," the Speaker said.

He also noted that the Ural Federal University (UFU) and the MUST have a big chance to broaden their collaboration, for example, by implementing joint programmes on technologies of turbine structure in metallurgical and energy sectors.

After this the sides shared views on realizing a joint programme on ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy at the MUST and UFU, on running training programme on Russian language, and co-founding a research laboratory.

Present at the meeting were also Ts.Buyantsogtoo, an advisor to the Speaker on social policy; Prof. B.Ochirbat, a rector of the MUST; Dr L.Orosoo, a teacher at the MUST.

Link to article


Oyu Tolgoi awards 20 students with Gobi scholarship

- Gobi scholarship programme marking 10 years of establishment -
- 292 students have received the Gobi scholarship since 2005 -
- MNT 600 million awarded in scholarships till date -

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 8 October 2015 (Oyu Tolgoi) -- Oyu Tolgoi on Wednesday hosted an awards ceremony to recognize the latest recipients of its Gobi Scholarship programme. This year, 20 students received scholarships, which focus on developing key skills and professions needed in the region.

Speaking to the students, Batsukh Galsan, Chairman of Oyu Tolgoi's Board of Directors, said, "Oyu Tolgoi's vision is to go from natural wealth to enduring value, knowledge, and skill. This is best showcased by our scholarship programme – now in its 10th year – that encourages and supports the best of our young talent. I'm confident that our youth will develop themselves into the highest standard in the respective professions, and contribute to the development of Mongolia."

One of the 2015 scholars, Davaajargal said "I'm studying medicine thanks to the generous support by Oyu Tolgoi. I'll return to my home town upon completion of my studies and it'll be my privilege to serve the local community."

The Gobi Scholarship programme started in 2005 as a part of Oyu Tolgoi's efforts to build capacity in Umungobi. The programme ensures Umnugobi student's skills fill critical gaps in Umnugobi by returning to their home region upon successful completion of their studies.

Oyu Tolgoi provides full scholarships to the students and, additional development training. Students whose skills match Oyu Tolgoi's business requirements need are also considered for internship opportunities at the company.

Over the past ten years, 292 students from Umnugobi have received scholarships, with a total investment in programme reaching MNT 600 million.

Link to article


10th Mongolian Young Leaders Program, Silicon Valley, November 13-14

We are excited to announce the 10th Mongolian Young Leaders Program under the topic "THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN MONGOLIA'S DEVELOPMENT" which will take place in SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA on NOVEMBER 13-14, 2015. The program will bring together 16-18 distinguished Mongolian young leaders from diverse academic backgrounds to discuss how technology and entrepreneurship can reduce our dependence on the volatile mining industry and further accelerate Mongolia's socio-economic development.

In the recent past, we have witnessed disruptive technologies rapidly transforming how people are informed, communicate, and make friends, how leaders make decisions, and how businesses deliver goods and services. Innovation and advancement in technology are drastically changing the dynamics of competition among businesses and nations. Top 5 of 10 most valuable brands in the world now are technology companies.

Silicon Valley has been the epicenter of innovation and is pulling the best talents, revolutionary ideas, and billions of investments to itself like a black hole. Tech companies in Silicon Valley are now worth over $3 trillion, and just last year, venture capital firms in the U.S. invested over $48 billion for new tech ideas. Policy makers and business leaders all around the world are trying to imitate and establish their own Silicon Alley, Silicon Steppe, and Silicon Fen.

Members of our Mongolian Young Leaders Network and other Mongolian professionals, who will be the guest speakers during MYLP, are already working in some of the top Silicon Valley tech companies, start-ups, and VC firms. Participants will visit the headquarters of Facebook, Google, and Start-up incubators to meet our guest speakers at work. MYLP in Silicon Valley is a great opportunity for Mongolia's best minds to meet and network with one another, learn from the industry leaders, exchange their opinion and ideas, and inspire one another to become the intellectual leaders and entrepreneurs.


We will provide for the incidentals during the three days of the program, including food and hotel accommodation. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to/from Silicon Valley, California.


Participants must be Mongolian students studying at U.S. higher education institutions who have demonstrated potential leadership. Application is open to both undergraduate and graduate students studying in related fields, and/or professionals interested in technological entrepreneurship.

Link to program

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Inspired by Zaya: S.Odbayar - Editor, GoGo Mongolia

October 9 ( "Future of Mongolia is not just mining. Instead I believe our future is dependent on educated, intelligent and multifaceted youth". I want to proudly introduce those talented and educated young professionals to others.

Editor E.Ariunzaya

I am very glad to interview to S.Odbayar, Editor of English version of the Mongolian number one portal website Even she is not a journalist by her profession, she is an innovative woman, succeeding in this sector with her talent and sense. By the way, congratulations to "Mongol Content" LLC on its 10th year anniversary. It is an honor for me to cooperate with, which is the only online broadcaster of my interviews. For the full interview please click here.

Link to article


Free concert for good cause in Grafton tonight

October 9 (The Daily Examiner) JACARANDA Brass and the Jack and Jill Preschool Choir will team up with other creative youth tonight to present a very special free all-age fundraising concert for Dream Family, a charity which provides early childhood education and training in Mongolia.

"We're incredibly grateful to all the creative young people and their teachers for donating their artistic services to enable us to present a relaxed and entertaining fundraising concert open to all members of the community," said organiser, Ellie Annesley of Grafton Uniting Church.

"It's inspirational to see local young people want to raise money to help furnish the Dream Family model preschool and early childhood teacher training facility in Mongolia.

"At the concert the young people will be bringing music, puppets and dance to life and running a stall with handicrafts they've made themselves.

"We hope many people will come along to throw their support behind local youth making a difference."

With its latest concert attracting a huge audience, Jacaranda Brass, the brass ensemble for budding young musicians at The Salvation Army's Grafton Corps, will be playing a blend of beautiful brass classics.

Educators at the Jack and Jill Preschool believe all children have a voice and deserve to be heard and so were keen the students to do their bit for preschoolers in Mongolia.

"Because all the items will be for kids by kids, the concert will be a great evening out for all families and for the young at heart," Ms Annesley said.

"The concert will take place at Grafton Uniting Church, 126 Prince Street, opposite the video store and gym and begin at 6pm."

Admission will be free and all the community are invited to attend.

Donations both big and small, gratefully received on the evening, will go to raise funds for the set up of the Dream Family model preschool in Ulanbaatar, Mongolia, which provides affordable early childhood education and teacher training.

Link to article


ACMS: This Month in Mongolian Studies, October 2015

In this Issue:

-       ACMS Announcements

-       Become an ACMS member or renew your membership

-       ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events

-       Calls for Papers, Conferences, and Workshops

-       Position Openings

-       Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants

-       Other News and Events

-       Recent Publications

Link to newsletter


Mongolia's Transition from a Pastoral to a Market-Driven Economy: A Threat to the Right to Food

By Munkhbolor Gungaa, Focal Point of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP) in Central Asia

"Who is rich, if not Mongolia, with its language, border and livestock?"

Zunduin Dorj The phrase of the poet Zunduin Dorj, born to a nomadic Mongolian pastoralist family, expresses strongly, yet succinctly, how livestock is a crucial element for the country's sovereignty and security. Mongolia lies between Russia and China and has a population of three million, almost half of which depend on pastoral livestock, making it central to the country's economy. Over 80% of land is grassland, providing home to fifty million heads of livestock, including horses, sheep, goats, cattle, yaks, camels, and reindeer. Pastoralism in Mongolia is a way of life, adapted to the prevailing harsh climatic conditions, which range from extremely cold winters down to -50°C and hot summers up to 35°C, and the meagre ecological conditions. Nevertheless, Mongolian pastoralism is currently under threat due to the impact of climate change, the expansion of mining, and a lack of adequate public policies.


Although Mongolian constitutional law does not explicitly recognize the human right to adequate food and nutrition (right to food or RtAFN), the Constitution stipulates that "the citizens of Mongolia shall be guaranteed the privilege to enjoy the right to a healthy and a safe environment, and to be protected against environmental pollution and ecological imbalance." This is consistent with the right to food principles. National legislation does, to a certain extent, strengthen this right. Moreover, the State of Mongolia has ratified several international conventions that are directly and indirectly linked to the right to food, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). However, as clarified below, despite the State's obligations under domestic and international law, there is no concrete application or development of public policies that makes the right to food a reality or, specifically, to protect and promote the rights of pastoralists in Mongolia.


Mongols' traditional diet is based on meat, flour and milk. Vegetables and fish do not play a significant role. Although consumption of animal products in Mongolia is among the highest in the world, cereals, like flour, are still the main source of energy, providing on average 55% of the daily intake. Meat and meat products constitute a further 20% of daily intake, while milk and other dairy products amount to 11%. Within the latter category, fermented mare's milk, airag, is very important in the Mongolian diet. It contains five times more vitamin C than cow's milk and also provides vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, and D. Airag is said to have many health benefits and is used to treat tuberculosis and other lung ailments. A traditional food made of barley, milk, butter, tea and sugar, arvain guril, is also a popular staple.

Livestock is vital for the Mongolian diet. However, the cultural and traditional food system of pastoralists is disintegrating. This has a great impact on food and nutrition security in the country. According to official statistics, one quarter of the population in Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city in Mongolia, one third of that in the aimag (provinces) centres and almost half of that in the soum (districts) centres has been classified as poor. About 60% of households live with inadequate daily food and nutrition requirements. In addition, at least 25% of children under five suffer from growth problems, 32.1% suffer from malnutrition and 43.2% lack vitamin D. Furthermore, 37.1% of pregnant women and 30.5% of breastfeeding mothers lack vitamin D.


Pastoralism is under threat due to the impacts of climate change, which result in severe droughts, storms and even harsher winters, locally called zuds. The 2010 zud was the worst ever and resulted in the death of 20% of the national herd. Under these unpredictable severe climatic conditions, it is estimated that, according to international standards, the daily calorie intake in Mongolia should be 2,700 kilocalories. As explained above, the Mongolian diet is directly connected to pastoralism, as it is largely based on meat and dairy products.

The situation of pastoralists is also being exacerbated by new land use policies and the recent spurt in mining and mineral industries. These adversely affect the life-sustaining pastures and water springs, while the accompanying pollution poisons grasslands and livestock and affects human health. Moreover, seasonal pastoral camps are being lost to open-pit mines, road building, waste dumping and water extraction. There are also fears that the government may declassify currently designated Protected Areas so that mining can commence in pastoral areas. As a result, pastoralists are forced to migrate from rural to urban areas. However, young pastoralists frequently do not find suitable jobs in urban areas. This migration thus contributes to undermining the centuries-old pastoral culture, as well as to increasing the rate of food insecurity in the country. It is clear that the Mongolian pastoralists' right to food is directly related to whether or not they are able to continue practicing pastoralism.

As well as dwindling traditional food production systems, domestic markets do not favour Mongolians. Pastoralists and peasants are not able to deliver their produced food to markets directly due to the lack of a direct supply system; middlepersons manage the food distribution system. Furthermore, the production of basic food, such as meat, milk, wheat and poultry, receives little State support. The government prioritizes the importation of cheap products, instead of developing a favourable environment of national loans and tax policies to benefit family farming and smallholders. In this context, poverty is a severe problem in rural areas, especially due to the lack of public policies on capacity building for nomadic communities to empower themselves, influence policy and develop local food production.


There are various factors hindering a strong response to the situation in Mongolia. Policy makers, civil society and local communities do not yet have a critical unified approach. These actors generally lack human rights knowledge and do not realize the contribution of indigenous or nomadic food systems to food security in the country. On the other hand, mineral resources are often seen as a tremendous economic opportunity, while its negative impacts on the environment and culture are only slowly being understood and acknowledged.

However, some positive signs are emerging. There are sporadic protests by herders, and an increasing number of people are also raising their concerns in favour of pastoralists. Furthermore, a number of civil society organizations and social movements are supporting and fighting for land and water rights in Mongolia. The Mongolian Alliance of Nomadic Indigenous Peoples (MANIP) was recently constituted by nomadic pastoralist communities themselves. It aims to build a strong pastoralist network at the national level, build the capacity of pastoralists and bring their voices to regional and international dialogues and consultations, as well as to influence government policy. Its Board includes gender-sensitive focal members from each region, as well as youth representatives. Under the Pastoralist Knowledge Hub,17 an initiative supported by the FAO, MANIP will host the first Central Asian Meeting of Pastoralists in July 2015 to discuss food and nutrition security, as well as issues related to land tenure and ways to sustain traditional knowledge.


Mongolia is a striking example of a country where centuries-old traditional livelihoods are at odds with 'industrial' market-based State development policies. There is tremendous pressure on historic pastoral land rights and pastoralists' way of life, and hence on the survival of the pastoral culture in Mongolia. Its continued existence will depend on the policy environment and on people's capacity to influence change. For this reason, partnership and understanding between the government, pastoralists and all other supporting organizations will be essential to build a strong mechanism for strengthening food and nutrition security and ensuring the realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition for all in Mongolia.

Link to report


Lynette Phuong on the AVID volunteer program In Mongolia

September 30 (Asia Options) As a nation of 2.8 million, Mongolia often slips behind Australia's diplomatic and commercial periphery, and even the intrepid Asia Options' team are yet to explore the picturesque steppes north of the Chinese border. Australia though has for many years played an active role in funding and implementing international development projects in Mongolia. One of these programs is the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID), an Australian Government initiative. This week we're thrilled to share insights of the AVID volunteer program in Mongolia from Lynette Phuong in Ulaanbaatar. 

What is your experience in development? How did you come across the AVID volunteer program in Mongolia?

My parents' experience of fleeing their war-torn homeland, Vietnam, some 36 years ago, has been a major driver and inspiration for my eagerness to give back to the community, and in particular through my work with recently arrived refugees and asylum seeker youth with the Australian Red Cross. This is my ninth year volunteering as a Young Humanitarian with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. In 2010, just after completing my undergraduate studies in a Bachelor of Arts/Commerce at Monash University, I embarked on an internship year with the United Nations Association of Australia (Victorian Division) whilst still holding various leadership positions with the Australian Red Cross and a voluntary role with the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria (AIIAV).

That year, Access, the AIIA's youth network established a mentoring program and I was matched up with a truly inspiring mentor, Adjunct Professor Ian Howie, who has spent the majority of his 30 years' international development work with the United Nations as a career official. After working with Ian on some presentations on family planning and sexual reproductive health and learning of the shocking maternal health indicators in the Pacific region, I knew I had to do something to address this. So that's when I started looking at various postgraduate study options in public health.

After reviewing various programs, I ultimately applied for the Master's degree in Public Health (MPH) at the University of Melbourne and was successful with my application. I commenced my studies with my older sister Linny who is now an advanced trainee paediatric doctor at the Royal Children's Hospital. Just months later, our younger sister Judy also commenced her postgraduate studies in the Master's Degree in Social Science at RMIT where she majored in International Development.

After undertaking a three-week immersive course at the world–renowned Comprehensive Rural Health Project at Jamkhed, India, and seeing first-hand the strength of community mobilisation efforts to empower individuals to 'own' their ideas and actions to enable behavioural change, I knew I wanted to hurry my studies along so I could be working in the field. This led to the decision to resign from my full time position with the Cancer Council's Daffodil Day and Pink Ribbon Day campaigns (a job I loved!) to finish my Master's Degree. Six subjects later (five intensives and one semester long subject)… exhausted… but definitely worth it, I finished and graduated with a Distinction average last December. Funnily enough, the day after I submitted my final paper for my master's degree, the application for the Public Health Program Officer role with the Mongolian Public Health Professionals Association (MPHPA) through the AVID program was due. Sick, sleep deprived, but determined, I polished up my application and crossed my fingers! Two days after my graduation ceremony, I received the offer. My sister Judy also received an offer for an AVID assignment too – doubly great news!

With a passion for health promotion and education, and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases and diabetes, and an interest in healthy food, it made sense to apply for this role with MPHPA. The assignment's three major outcomes got five ticks from me! The assignment seemed 'perfect' – the three major risk factors accounting for the major disease burden in Mongolia are dietary risks, high blood pressure and tobacco smoking, which are modifiable lifestyle NCD risk factors. MPHPA is a professional, experienced and recognised NGO that works actively in public health research, policy and program evaluation, policy development, advocacy and professional development. Since 2003, MPHPA has conducted ongoing policy and advocacy activities with a particular focus on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs laws and regulations in close collaboration with government, professional and non-governmental organizations. Their efforts have seen an increase in excise tax of alcohol and tobacco, a revision of alcohol and tobacco control law in 2003, 2008, 2010-2013, and the Mongolian Government's focus on "Healthy Mongolians" Program in 2006. 

What were the initial hesitations before signing up and how did you overcome these?

The extreme cold did frighten me, and still does. Of course knowing that I am now living in the coldest capital city in the world is a tad scary, but then I have to remind myself that I do love challenges. Gulp! Although I have experienced some cold days in my first few days here in Ulaanbaatar, I'm trying to stay optimistic about my preparations for the upcoming winter. My mentor and I had a very successful shop at Icebreaker before my departure, and to tell you the truth, I've brought all the Icebreakers and duck feather down jackets I could carry and have purchased some camel wool thermals and socks here. Another shop with some local friends in time for the harsh winter is definitely on the cards. The other little 'heart attack' I had before leaving Melbourne was related to the language. I Googled 'Mongolian language' and had only stumbled across the traditional Mongolian script. Unsure of how (if ever) I could grasp that, after a goodnight's sleep, I re-Googled and found that Mongolians use the Cyrillic alphabet. Phew! But nonetheless, I saw this as an exciting opportunity to pull out my dusty calligraphy set and exercise my calligraphy skills. I was very pleased that my time spent familiarising myself with the Cyrillic alphabet before departure as it instantly came very handy upon my arrival in Ulaanbaatar- signs didn't look so unfamiliar!

What have been some of the highlights?

The sunshine. Mongolia is after all the "land of blue skies." Actually, every time I pass Chinggis Square, I stop for a moment and take in the view. Immediately after, I can feel a big cheesy smile form on my face as I observe the steppes in the south, the modern Blue Sky Tower, Mongolia's tallest building in the middle, and the perfectly blue cloudless sky – what a view! The orientation program provided by our In-Country Management Team, including our first two weeks of Mongolian language lessons with the lovely Urnaa were superb! Another highlight was meeting other AVID volunteers who were already in country and happy to share their tips and favourite places – this definitely made my transition into life in Ulaanbaatar much easier!

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there is free Wi-Fi almost everywhere you go in the city. It makes staying in touch with family and friends back home way easier. My colleagues and active members of the Mongolian Public Health Professionals Association are such a delight to work with. There's never a dull moment in the office! Although we're a very small team, the work of the association is highly regarded. I'm happy to share that we work hard, giggle, eat (constantly, maybe that's just me snacking the entire time) and celebrate often. Excitingly, during my short time with the association so far, we have launched our pilot mentoring program; a bi-monthly eNewsletter for MPHPA members; signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mongolian National University; been awarded two bids for tenders with UNICEF and Ministry of Justice; and delivered many public health training classes.

In late July, just after Naadam, I was excited to have the opportunity to deliver health leadership and management training with our former Executive Director to the directors of the Umnigovi (South Gobi) aimag health departments and heads of soum and inter-soum hospitals. Whilst there, I visited Yolyn Am, which is a region in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in the Gobi Desert, which is famous for its rocky cliffs and canyons where blue veined ice survive well into the summer. So, yes, the vast landscapes offered by Mongolia are definitely a highlight! And how could I forget to mention the wrestling at the Naadam festival? Other highlights include: living with three amazing Australian volunteers; kickboxing (a new martial art to me; I am however missing my Judo and Jiujitsu training); delicious vegetarian tacos at Avocado Café; my daily (therapeutic) visits to Nomin supermarket; movies in 3D (I haven't watched so many!); karaoke; and, being a pescatarian, scrumptious fish from Lake Baikal in Russia!

Would you recommend this program and Mongolia to others?

Absolutely! Through the AVID program, Australian volunteers have the exciting opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences to help build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities in their host country and make a positive difference in a developing country – all the while having an adventure and experiencing a new culture! Moreover, Mongolia has a very long history, vast landscapes spanning camel-trod deserts, canyons and grasslands, a difficult language (one for the language enthusiasts!), varying climates, but… the welcoming people and fun had at every grocery shop can make everyday a new adventure!

The Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program is an Australian Government initiative.

About Lynette Phuong

Lynette is an Australian volunteer who has come to Ulaanbaatar as part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, funded by the Australian Government. In addition to completing a Master's Degree in Public Health from University of Melbourne, and a Bachelor of Arts/Commerce (majors: International Commerce, German and Spanish) from Monash University, she has actively contributed to the community through volunteer work since 2006 with organizations including the Australian Red Cross and United Nations Association of Australia (Victorian Division).

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Address in Recognition of the Greater Significance of the Roerich Peace Pact

By J. Philip Jimenez, Secretary-General, The Roerich Bira Foundation, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 10 October 2015

At present, we at the Roerich-Bira Foundation feel charged with a sense of immediacy.  The world is gripped in a roiling conflict of great complexity.  It is different from the great conflicts of the 20th century in that most of it is happening under the surface and yet its ramifications feel even more all-encompassing and our future feels even more crucially at stake than in earlier times. The Foundation feels it wise to be as optimistic as humanly possible.  Yet we recognize the urgent need to contribute to a positive outcome to the fullest extent of our potential–which, while only newly tested, seems considerable.  The sense of urgency that animates our thoughts and actions is balanced by a recognition that a thoughtful, well-considered agenda is best.  Indeed, these times demand an ingenious blend of timely action and time-tested wisdom.

However great the chaos and however dark appear the prospects of failure, we believe in embracing a spirit of harmony and celebration.  We believe this is the wisest course and the one most likely to produce the most effective action and to inspire the most cooperation.  The spirit of innovation is the spirit that solves the thorniest problems.  And this spirit is fed and is regenerated in the cultural realm. 

We at the Roerich-Bira Foundation believe that culture should be celebrated actively, with an urgent yet self-confident attitude.  We believe to our core that an active, engaged and solution-oriented celebration of culture will stoke the engine of development.  It is the spirit of innovation and development that constitutes Humankind's connection to the highest version of our collective identity.  Through culture, we are enabled to imagine and actually connect with the highest principles of the Universe.  Through culture, we connect with the means to actualize the highest version of ourselves.

The vision, the means and the will which bring about the total development of the human being are gifted to us through culture.  Just as the individual is inevitably brought to a closer approximation of his/her higher self through access to a higher vibrational understanding of life, so the collective–the entire species and even all sentient life–can be raised above the lower vibrational energies of ignorance and fear through the modes of culture.  These assertions are based on science.  It has long been understood that we attract not what we fear we lack, but we attract a reality that mirrors our vibrational state.  Many individuals have employed this understanding to uplift themselves, to create prosperity and abundance for themselves and for those around them.  It is said that the great ones among us–and certainly Nicholas Roerich and Dr. Shagdaryn Bira must be considered in this light–create hope and abundance through a special connection to the higher energies that flow to and through each of us.  These energies are available to all–and this should be the message that the rest of us must do our best to receive to the fullest possible extent.  We benefit most directly from the dynamic attainments of our cultural, spiritual and scientific achievers when we recognize that the the power to uplift lies within each of us.  I can personally attest that this has been the direct effect of Dr. Bira on my life.  No doubt, Dr. Bira will express himself similarly in regard to George Roerich and the legacy of Nicholas Roerich himself. 

Every significant achievement that has led to a higher state of human development proceeds from a connection to the higher vibrational states that have been attained by the great ones among us.  This is the essence of culture.  This is undoubtedly true anywhere in the cosmos.  And so, when we consider the Roerich Pact some eighty years after its emergence as international law, we should consider it in the light of universal truth.  Indeed, we are indebted to none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt for his transcendent observation that, "This treaty possesses a spiritual significance greater than the text of the instrument itself." 

It is our contention that the spiritual significance of the Roerich Pact is cause for celebration.  It is in celebration that our imaginations are engaged and our actions become ceremonial, expansive and inspired.  It is in genuine celebration that we connect to one another via the higher vibrations.  In true celebration, the willingness to commit ourselves fully to the art of living is invigorated.  The art of living is the essence of development in all its forms.  And so we should celebrate in a manner that attunes us to the higher frequencies along which flow the currents of innovation and creativity.  All the best sources of wisdom admonish us to do so.  And the spiritual significance that Roosevelt intuited is nothing other than Universal Love, through which we find the energy and capability to overcome any obstacle.

Of creativity, Nicholas Roerich wrote: "The language of creativity is that pan-human tongue understood by the heart."  He goes on to state unequivocally that "Culture is the Heart."  It is culture that is spoken from the heart and addressed to the hearts of others.  The great ones among us are imbued with the spirit of sacrifice and this is indicative their great achievements.  While the intellect may manifest the divine, it is the Heart that engages in sacrifice for the greater good.  The sacrificial labors of the great ones are the riches of culture–the indispensable riches that comprise a sort of evolutionary fund that gives hope and opens new possibilities for each generation.

Nothing could be more urgent than the need to create new sources of prosperity in every sense of the word.  We encourage a development that proceeds unencumbered by the restrictions and limitations imposed by the very few who–through ignorance, greed or vanity–seek their own aggrandizement at the expense of the entire race.  We seek to dispel the darkness of want and crooked intentions.  And so our celebration must be followed by concerted effort.  Our discourse here today, illuminated by the Light of Culture, will encourage and inform such laudable efforts as were envisioned by Nicholas Roerich when he announced the beginning of the Epoch of the Heart.  His sacrifice and contribution, distilled in the Roerich Pact, invite us to deepen and broaden our efforts to cultivate and uplift not only the Human Spirit but the Human Being in the flesh.  For it was Gandhi who observed that poverty is the worst form of violence. 

On September 20th of this year, I had the very good fortune to attend the International Day of Peace celebration at the Roerich Museum in New York City.  Disciples of Peace from all over the world were in attendance. An  unspoken consensus that evening affirmed that the Roerich Museum was the best possible place for the United Nations to hold such a gathering.  Roerich's most iconic images glowed on the walls around us.  His energy and spiritual aptitude drew us to this location as if by some irresistible cosmic inducement.  After the powerful statements and personal testimonies that were shared, I was indescribably pleased to be approached by many people who were curious about our work here in Ulaanbaatar.  They expressed the desire to come to Mongolia, to  witness and participate in our research, our actions and our spirit.  I encouraged all to come.  Never before had been in such an ideal position to promote our Foundation or the principles we espouse: economic fairness, respect for our natural environment and non-aggression.  We believe that these principles, held sacrosanct, will serve the cause of development and that the vision of Pax Cultura serves as our guiding light.  But what I wished to emphasize to all those who approached me was that the exceptional nature of their Mongolian colleagues lies in the ability to take action–and to do so, innovatively and persistently, until results are attained and the next level of evolution is clearly revealed for future generations.  Mongolians are doers, I told them.  Please come to Mongolia to witness, contribute and find inspiration.  Quite a number of people assured me that they would!

The great issues of our time are transnational issues: economics, environment and law.  We believe that these issues require the action and reflection which the Roerich Pact dares us to consider.  And we affirm the power of culture both to connect us to the vision of an ideal human society and to provide us with the communicative, educational and scientific means to turn the vision into results.

Thank you all for attending this afternoon's celebration.  May our discourse be animated by the joy both of collaboration and of the fulfillment of purpose.

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First Bishop of Mongolia to celebrate World Mission Sunday

October 9 (Independent Catholic News) Bishop Wenceslao 'Wens' Padilla, the first and only Bishop of Mongolia, will visit London this year invited by Missio, to celebrate World Mission Sunday on 18 October. As the Pope's official charity for overseas mission, Missio is focusing on the world's youngest Catholic Church which was established in Mongolia just over twenty years ago following the fall of communism.

In 1992, the future Bishop Wens, a Filipino from the Italian Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and two fellow missionary priests, arrived in Mongolia and began ministering out of a hotel room. They celebrated Mass with expatriates and slowly their Mongolian friends began to accompany them. Before long, the first Catholic Church building was being constructed, supported by Missio.

Bishop Wens recalls that when he first arrived, the country, which was mostly comprised of nomadic herders, had no knowledge of Christianity, and the community were struggling with alcoholism, domestic abuse, minimal government social services and extreme poverty.

The Bishop worked hard to understand the needs of the people, leading to several initiatives that continue today. They include a care centre for children who were homeless, schools, clinics and training centres for vocational skills.

"All cater to the very poor," says Bishop Wens, "those that have no clothes to wear, no food, no family."

In an effort to share God's love, the young Mongolian church continues to struggle to provide food, shelter, schooling and medical care to all who need it, including a growing community of Catholics. But with extra resources there are so many more lives the church could transform.

World Mission Sunday is celebrated by Catholics in every country where the Church is present. On 18 October, parishes all over the world will be encouraged to pray for the missionary work of the Church and share what they can to support faith communities overseas which are in urgent need.

Bishop Wens will be delivering the homily at all the Masses on the weekend of 18 October at Westminster Cathedral. He and his fellow missionaries rely on the worldwide Catholic family, therefore he is incredibly grateful for this support and says, "Although I've seen many Mongolians come to know Christ, there are still so many more that need to be reached. I want to continue reaching out to the poor and am grateful for the love and support of our sisters and brothers in England and Wales."

Mgr Canon James Cronin, National Director of Missio in England and Wales, reminds us, "World Mission Sunday is an opportunity for the family of the Church to support its youngest member, the Church of Mongolia."

Pope Francis, in his message for World Mission Sunday declared: 'Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people.' As the Pope's official charity for overseas mission, Missio has the responsibility of raising funds to support the Church where it is too young or too poor to support itself.

Mongolia is the focus of the World Mission Sunday 2015 collection and money raised in parishes across England and Wales will go to support the work of missionaries, like Bishop Wens, all around the world. As part of the worldwide Pontifical Mission Societies, Missio supports all of the Churches which are young and poor and the World Mission Sunday collection will also be helping our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

To make a donation, or to find out more, please visit

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Sexual Violence against Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transgender Women in Mongolia: A Mixed-Methods Study of Scope and Consequences

Sarah M. Peitzmeier , Faiza Yasin, Rob Stephenson, Andrea L. Wirtz, Altanchimeg Delegchoimbol, Myagmardorj Dorjgotov, Stefan Baral

October 2 (PLOS ONE) --


The role of sexual violence in health and human rights-related outcomes, including HIV, is receiving increasing attention globally, yet the prevalence, patterns, and correlates of sexual violence have been little-studied among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women in low and middle income countries. A mixed-methods study with quantitative and qualitative phases was conducted among MSM and transgender women in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Methods included respondent-driven sampling (RDS) with structured socio-behavioral surveys (N = 313) as well as qualitative methods including 30 in-depth interviews and 2 focus group discussions. Forced sex in the last three years was reported by 14.7% of respondents (RDS-weighted estimate, 95%CI: 9.4–20.1; crude estimate 16.1%, 49/307) in the quantitative phase. A descriptive typology of common scenarios was constructed based on the specific incidents of sexual violence shared by respondents in the qualitative phase (37 incidents across 28 interviews and 2 focus groups). Eight major types of sexual violence were identified, most frequent of which were bias-motivated street violence and alcohol-involved party-related violence. Many vulnerabilities to and consequences of sexual violence described during the qualitative phase were also independently associated with forced sex, including alcohol use at least once per week (AOR = 3.39, 95% CI:1.69–6.81), and having received payment for sex (AOR = 2.77, 95% CI:1.14–6.75). Building on the promising strategies used in other settings to prevent and respond to sexual violence, similar strengthening of legal and social sector responses may provide much needed support to survivors and prevent future sexual violence.

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Nature, Environment

Why All The Cool New Dinosaurs Are From Asia And South America

October 9 (Atlas Obscura) When paleontologists look for a place to find dinosaur bones, they're searching out spots with a few particular qualities. The rocks need to be the right age, and they need to be sedimentary rock. It helps if they're in an arid environment, where erosion pulls away layers of rock and exposes more of the past. Also, they need to be as far away from other paleontologists as possible.

Ultimately, there are only so many easily accessible places in the world where vast swaths of land meet these criteria. Of all the different kinds of dinosaurs discovered, most have come from just six countries: China, Argentina, the United States, Mongolia, Canada and England.

At one point in the history of paleontology, discoveries came at a relatively slow pace, but now it seems like a new type of dinosaur is being discovered every week. And that's not far off; in some recent years, the discovery of new dinosaur genera (the taxonomic strata above species but below family) has happened at a record pace: three, four, even six dozen new genera of dinosaurs are being described every year. In 1990, 285 genera, most of which contain just one species, were known; by 2006, it was 527. Today, that number's edging towards 1,000.

There are a few reasons why so many dinosaurs are being identified so quickly: technology for scanning and analyzing bones has sped up the pace of paleontological publication, and the number of working paleontologists has increased in the past few decades. But part of the reason is strictly geographical: more paleontologists are being trained in more places around the world and are working locally. And in places like China and Mongolia, international access to potential dig sites, limited through most of the 20th century, has dramatically opened in the past 25 years.

"We are still in the part of history where the rate of discovery is increasing," says Ken Lacovara, a paleontology professor and fossil quarry director at Rowan University. 

There is a limit to how long this fossil frenzy can go on, though. In 2006, a paleobiologist and paleontologist published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimating that, in total, there were about 1,850 discoverable genera of non-avian dinosaurs. At the time, the rate of discovery was shooting up, particularly in four key countries: between 1990 and 2006, the number of dinosaur genera found in Mongolia had increased 45 percent; in the U.S., 48 percent; in China, 132 percent, and in Argentina 165 percent.

The paper predicted that humans would identify 75 percent of discoverable genera within 60 to 100 years and 90 percent within 100 to 140 years; we're already around 50 percent, due in part to the rapid pace of discoveries coming from China. Since 2006, China has become the world's top country for dinosaur discoveries; one Chinese paleontologist has named more new species of dinosaur than any other single person.

The U.S., China and Mongolia do have some features in common: they're gigantic, which is one reason why the finds are so numerous, and they have large stretches of arid environments—think of the badlands, deserts, and plains in the American West or the Gobi desert in Mongolia. (England, in contrast, ranks as a top spot for discovery mostly because it was home of the world's first paleontologists.)

But the story of the boom looks different in each hotspot. In Argentina's Patagonian region, for instance, where Lacovara led a team that discovered the giant Dreadnoughtus, no one had seriously looked for dinosaur fossils until the mid-20th century. But then George Gaylord Simpson, one of the era's great paleontologists, started working there, followed by José Bonaparte, an Argentinian who trained a generation of South American paleontologists. They started finding a wealth of fantastic fossils in Patagonia.

In Mongolia, American paleontologists knew the desert could be a rich resource for dinosaur fossils: they had started looking there in the 1920s, before the Soviet Union closed off access to foreign researchers. It wasn't until the Iron Curtain fell, in the 1990s, that they were able to return and re-start work.

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Researchers Capture and Band First Critically Endangered Siberian Crane in Mongolia

September 8 (International Crane Foundation) Exciting news from International Crane Foundation Research Associate, Dr. Nyamba Batbayar – our Mongolian colleagues successfully captured and banded the first Critically Endangered Siberian Crane in Mongolia! Scientists have surprisingly little information about where sub-adult or non-breeding Siberian Cranes summer. In order to take the most effective action to protect cranes and their habitats, we need more information about where they go and what threats they may face along the way or once they are there. With this first banding, we are on our way to gaining this critical knowledge!

The young crane was captured near the team's research camp in Khurkh Valley, where small groups of non-breeding Siberian Cranes have been sighted the last few years. The valley is an important breeding area for Threatened White-naped Cranes, which Nyamba and his colleagues at the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia have been studying for several years. The team has regularly banded and placed tracking devices on White-naped Crane chicks and a small number of molting and flightless adults through this research; however using these techniques to capture this sub-adult crane, let alone a Critically Endangered bird, was challenging and unusual.

The Siberian Crane was captured by two experienced researchers, who placed a satellite transmitter provided by the International Crane Foundation on the crane's left leg (30g solar North Star GPS PTT), and a red-blue-red color leg band on its right leg (left). The team named the bird "Mongol." The young crane was deemed healthy and was completing a molt of its flight feathers. The team quickly took leg and wing measurements, collected feathers, a fresh fecal sample, and throat swab for further study, and released the bird to rejoin its flock.

We now hope to track the banded crane's migration this fall and learn important information on the behavior and movements of young Siberian Cranes from the time they leave their parents after their first winter until they return to the remote tundra in Russia to breed.

Join our email list to learn more about our conservation efforts in Mongolia and across the globe.

Story submitted by Claire Mirande, Director of Conservation Networking for the International Crane Foundation. Click here to learn more about our work in East Asia.

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Animals of Altai Mountains

(Discover Mongolia) The Altai Mountains, sandwiched between Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan and China is a foreboding and rugged place. Even then, there is a lot of beauty in these mountains and anyone who takes one look cannot help, but marvel at them.

A number of wild animals call these mountains home such as the majestic golden eagle, the Grey wolf, Argali sheep, snow leopard, Eurasian lynx, Siberian ibex, brown bear, Corsac fox, Mongolian gazelle and more.

Many of these animals like the rare Argali sheep are endemic to the region. These are also several species of deer such as the forest reindeer, Altai wapiti, moose, Siberian musk deer and the Siberian roe deer. Wild boars are also found in the Altai mountains. Here is bit more about some of the special animals found in the Altai.

Golden eagle

Hunting with eagles is an old tradition. Some say, it goes back to 4000 years. The only people who still hunt with eagles live in the Altai region of Western Mongolia. It is a skill because eagles are temperamental. If they are not trained properly, the eagles can claw or bite or even get injured (if you don't handle them properly). The eagles can hunt rabbits and foxes. Only about 400 of these falconers are left so it is a dying art, even in the Altai.

Snow leopard

The snow leopard is an elusive creature. Their camouflaged fur gives them an incredible advantage in the ragged mountains where they live. It is difficult to spot one and if you do, count yourself incredibly lucky. The snow leopard preys on the Siberian Ibex and the Argali sheep. However, for all its power, the snow leopard just weights 55 kg at the max. To help it cope with the cold, the snow leopard has been blessed with the thickest fur among all the big cats. There are just about 6000 of these elegant big cats left and there is a large population in the Altai.

Siberian Ibex

With its long, curved horns the Siberian Ibex, a type of wild goat, is a sight to behold. It is usually found above the tree line, only coming down to escape from the cold in winter or to escape a predator like the snow leopard. Like the snow leopard, the Siberian Ibex is also endangered.

Brown bear

The brown bear is one of the largest land-based predators. A brown bear can weigh as much as 355 kg. They are even known to chased down deer. Brown bears are mostly nocturnal and hibernate in winter, when the weather is very cold and food supplies are low. Most of the bears' diet is composed of vegetation and they are opportunistic flesh eaters. 

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Get Into Rugby - Try, Play, Stay!

October 9 ( During this Rugby World Cup year we are trying to promote the interest in rugby in Mongolia. The Mongolian RFU was established in 2003 and is a member Union of Asian RFU as well as Mongolian Olympic Committee.

Rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in Mongolia and is being developed in numerous high schools and Universities around Mongolia.

The Mongolian National team have participated in social as well as international tournaments including Beijing, Hong Kong, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and recently in the Asian Games in Shanghai.

The World Rugby Vision is: Rugby - a sport for all, true to its values. Get Into Rugby is the IRB's development programme which aims to grow the Game of Rugby across the world in partnership with our Regional Associations and introduce people globally to Rugby and the values of Integrity, Respect, Solidarity, Passion and Discipline which inspire millions of people to play our Game.

This programme is designed to assist World Rugby member Unions to develop the Game in a progressive and sustainable way. Get Into Rugby also serves to introduce people to the unique values of Rugby, which are highlighted throughout the programme.

There will be events held throughout the year, at various locations throughout the city, even during winter when sessions will be moved to indoor locations.

For further information regarding Get Into Rugby events please check out the Facebook page. Event info and photos will be posted regularly, so keep coming back to check out new events.

The next Get Into Rugby event is happening on Sunday 11th October, at 82nd School, Barilgachinii St, Unur horoolol, Mongolia.

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Mongolia brings 2 gold, 1 silver, 4 bronze from Asian Bodybuilding Championship

October 9 ( The 49th Asian Bodybuilding Championship-2015, organized by the Asian Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation took place in Tashkent on 29th September- 5th October. The Mongolian team, which consisted of nine bodybuilders, a coach, the team manager and a photo-journalist, participated. The Mongolian team is returning today; they are bringing with them two gold, a silver and four bronze medals from the Asian Champion. The bodybuilders are coming to Mongolia, today.

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Meet the Mongolian Modern "Tarzans"

October 9 ( Do you remember "Yamasaki" French film? The film shows the seven young sport nuts of obviously different ethnic backgrounds who are all dedicated to parkour.

We are introducing you the Mongolian modern "Tarzans" that is the reason for remembering this film to you.

Children in nowadays have became "curious" and "adventurous". They discovered their interest in parkour by watching videos on YouTube, and came up with own style that played to their unique strengths and interests.

Team U'naided composed of more than 10 boys with different dreams, was established ten months earlier and united under same interest. Most of them are students at secondary school while one of them is freshman at University of Science and Technology.

Except two of them who were training in Taekwondo and Judo for a while, none is quite experienced in sports. As the result of continuous preparation, they have reached the current level in terms of skills.

Below is the video which you can get acquaint with what they are doing.

Tsenguun provides first-aids to the team and called as Medic. Hurelbaatar called as Rek due to practicing of Taekwondo in his childhood. Tsogtbayar called as Tester because he always tries something new and though. Usuhbayar called as Poskii and Dandar called as DK, which are the names of their idol traceurs.

-First of all, could you introduce us the advantage of parkour and freerunning?
Team U'naided: 
Parkour was developed as overcoming the obstacles with the aim to develop human body. David Belle appeared in District B13 film, is the founder of the parkour, coining it based on his training. Freerunning is a cool-looking acrobatic movements developed as a more inclusive form of parkour. It adds more attraction and fun for the movement.

Parkour requires full-body workout while all muscles of body even eyes are in conditioning. Therefore, it improves your body both physically and mentally. In addition, it helps to develop sharp mind too. Because I have to think quickly about many things during the parkour performance such as what I should do when I get there or what I should do after then. This helps to quickly resolve the issues faced in real life. Traceur (Parkour practicer) is three times faster compared with ordinary people. You can use your abilities anywhere and prevent yourself from potential dangers. Parkour has advantage to be performed in anywhere.

-I heard that you are the only junior parkour team in Mongolia. How many teams are there?
Team U'naided:
 There are 3-4 teams in Mongolia. Also, there are several teams specialized in stunt and graffiti.

-I felt that the techniques and skills done by your team are difficult and could not easily done by anyone. Have you experienced in any sports before?  

Team U'naided: Huslee was training Taekwondo as Dandar was doing judo. Others have no experience in sport activities. But all of us like sports in our childhood.

-I think doing such movement and jumping is risky for children with no experience for sports. How often do you get injured from parkour?

Team U'naided: We often get hurt. Traceurs must have enough courage and patience to overcome the obstacles and challenges. It is hard to leave what we try to struggle because of once or two times of injury. From the start, our parents have always told us to stop practicing parkour and said it is too risky. However, they eventually accepted us after looking their children who were trying hard what they like.

Parkour is dedicated to ensure human safety. Freerunning has developed as more artistically. It allows us to spend our leisure time in fun and interesting way. If we provide our training well and get properly sequenced, the probability for the injury will decrease. We had broken our hands, feet, tail base and even clavicle when we just started training. Because of not having a mentor in this field, we were forced to learning skills by watching videos on Youtube, taking advice from several people and rehearsing for remaining period of time. We always remind ourselves the word that one percent talent and 99 percent hard work will bring success.

-How much time do you spend on parkour rehearsal in a day?

Team U'naided: Everytime we have time, we want to do our training. Recently, international competition titled "Art of motion" was held. We watched it together. After the competition ended at 11 PM, we went outside and started our rehearsal right away. We have trained until 2-3AM that night. Thus, if we have time, we always go for "jumping".

-Your training can be done in anywhere such as city street and square in summer. How about the winter? Where do you rehearse in winter?

Team U'naided: During the winter, we put on warm clothes suitable for our body. Of course, it is tough to rehearse in winter. But we consider winter as a opportunity for us to improve our skills more because training with heavy clothes and winter shoes are crucial for making advancements in our abilities. If we get used to train in cold with heavy clothes, it will be easier for us in summer with less burdens. Therefore, the most suitable season to up your level is winter. Sometimes we conduct our training at gymnastic hall. Typically, capital city as a whole is our basic training field.

-You posted on your Facebook page that you recently joined the parkour federation. Could you tell us more about it?

Team U'naided: Our team has joined in Parkour Federation of Europe. Moreover, our member Tsogbayar has individually joined as member in Parkour Federation of Europe.

-Except being experienced in parkour, you have learned many skills in photography, video and montage?

Team U'naided: Sure. Mostly, Tsenguun focus on photography, video, montage and style. But all of us have learned computer, taking photos and video recording. We always inspire each other. Even though we are best friends in life, we love to compete and learn from each other at the preparation.

-Having no teacher, you have joined in international federation and brought your team at this stage. What is your aim of your team?

Team U'naided: We have the dream to succeed at "Art of Motion" international competition. By the next year, all team members will send introduction videos to the competition in order to qualify for the right to participate.

-Thank you for the interview. May your dreams will come true. Good luck.

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Art, Entertainment

"Romeo and Juliet" returns to Mongolia 19 years later

October 9 ( Inarguably, any theatre director has once dreamed of directing "Romeo and Juliet" play, written by William Shakespeare. Also, every young actors and actresses have an aspiration to star and preserve their youthfulness in Rome and Juliet. Certainly, the play "Romeo and Juliet" is one that makes you feel beauty and joy of the love.

The play was initially presented at the theatre of Mongolia in 1966, directed by S.Genden as Ts.Gotov as Romeo and B.Enkhtuya as Juliet starred respectively. 30 years later, the play was staged for the second time in 1996, directed by Ch.Naidandorj.

Artists, actors and actresses starring in the play back in 1996 recollect that there was full of audiences gave the standing ovation and left satisfied.

Then, the play was quite successful in 1996 "Goo Maral" theatre awards, and won the best play, the best actor and the best actress.

1996 "Romeo and Juliet" play:

Director Ch.Naidandorj

Producer Ya.Sanjaasuren

Composer Kh.Bulgan


Actors O.Gerelsukh and G.Altanbagana as Romeo

Actresses I.Odonchimeg and G.Urnaa as Juliet

Now 19 years later, State-honored artists and director N.Naranbaatar set to relive the play at the theatre in November.

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Exhibitions of Mongolian artists mounted at UC Berkeley

Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) In series of the "Mongolia celebration" event, dedicated to the revival of Mongolian language program and the establishment of the Center for Mongol Studies at UC Berkeley, the two separate art exhibitions of Mongolian artists opened in the San Francisco Bay Area, says on Thursday a website of our Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The exhibition "Visions from Afar" by Mongolian artists S.Turburam, S. Tamir and B.Enkhbat who are living in the San Francisco Bay Area, was opened in the Silk Road Gallery in Berkeley on October 4. Other Mongolians S.Tugs-Oyun, J.Munkhtsetseg and B.Nomin opened their exhibition named "Three Gems" at UC Berkeley on October 6.

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Beyond the dunes: road-tripping Mongolia's Gobi Desert

October 1 (Lonely Planet) Giant sand dunes fringed by sun-scorched valleys. Primordial fossils hidden within flaming-red cliffs. The sun setting pink and purple over a Mongolian yurt. Few experiences bring together offbeat adventure and epic road-tripping quite like bouncing through Mongolia's Gobi Desert in the rear-facing seat of an off-road van, hoping against hope that the next little village has a couple of cans of petrol.

Hiring a van and a driver and spending a week cruising around the Gobi is one of the highlights of an adventurer's trip to Mongolia. The region's main natural sights are all less than 150km from one another, making an easy interchangeable loop that starts and ends in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.

Charge up your mp3 player, grab a few handfuls of camel cheese and set off on one of the best drives this side of Siberia.

Prepping in Ulaanbaatar

Before any of the photogenic bits, the adventure starts in Mongolia's capital city, Ulaanbaatar. You'll need to hire a van and driver, possibly source a group of travellers to fill it with (and share costs), and get enough supplies to keep the lot of you in good shape for the duration.

You'll need to negotiate a set route or daily distance with your driver, either agreeing on the places you want to go or just driving each day in the direction that seems most promising. Sometimes drivers will have suggestions for a route based on the weather and road conditions, or places where they know they can make camp or find a ger-stay. Stock up on food (otherwise it's camel cheese for a week!), fill up with plenty of petrol, and it's time to hit the Gobi.
Most travellers end up in old-school UAZ vans (utilitarian Russian vehicles originally for military uses) that are, shall we say, light on safety equipment and creature comforts. Prepare to be covered in dust, absolutely battered by a combination of rough roads and a vehicle with no handles, and often hundreds of kilometers from the nearest flushing toilet. Still sound like fun? Then embrace your inner Indiana Jones and get out into the wilds of Mongolia.

Leg 1: Valley of the Vultures

Amidst the wide-open spaces of the Gobi, the narrow walls of the Yolyn Am seem somehow out-of-place, as do the ice floes that have historically covered the valley floor even through the summer. Neither the ice nor the namesake Yol vultures stick around very long these days, but it still makes an easy day hike (or a challenging scramble) and the craggy canyonlands make a nice change of scenery from the desert landscapes that characterise most of the region.

Leg 2: Flaming Cliffs

If dunes and dromedaries aren't adventurous enough for you, how about following the trail of the man that some claim to be the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones? In Bayanzag, the area he dubbed the Flaming Cliffs for their deep sunset hues, Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first scientifically-recognised fossils of dinosaur eggs in 1923. Though the excavations have long moved on, the desolate desert that stretches to the horizon and beyond continues to draw travellers looking for adventure and beautiful sunsets.

Leg 3: Climbing the Khongoryn dunes

The Mongolian Gobi at Khongoryn Els is the desert you've always dreamed of: sand dunes up to 300m high and stretching nearly 12km into the distance. Ride a camel from the nearest nomad camp to the foot of the dunes, climb to the top as your steps  slide backwards down the sandy slope, and stare out over Asia's largest desert. (Just don't turn your back on that camel for too long – they're decidedly cranky and might not be waiting for you when you get back!)

Leg 4: Exploring the ruins of Kharkhorin

While actually outside the Gobi , the Erdene Zuu Khiid is absolutely worth a detour on the drive to or from the desert. Located on the site of one of the once-prosperous 13th-century capitals of the Mongol empire, the city withered after Kublai Khan abandoned the site in favour of the area we today know as Beijing. The monastery itself, constructed to mark the 1585 establishment of Tibetan Buddhism as the official state religion, is believed to have been built from the repurposed stones of the ancient city. Though the modern monastic community is significantly smaller than it was at its historical peak, even just the approach to the impressive fortress-like wall of stupas is worth the drive.

Sleeping and eating

Though you might occasionally wind up camping wild in a tent, the end of most days will see your driver steering towards the nearest ger (yurt) camp. These traditional nomad tents (similar to the yurts found throughout Central Asia) dot most of rural Mongolia, including the Gobi. A stop will almost certainly include a bowl of tea or airag, a slightly fermented horse milk, while a night spent in the ger can easily turn into a meaty feast...followed by tea and airag.

Most of the meat, milk and dairy in Mongolia is from home-grown livestock raised and consumed by these same nomad families; but while the rest of the country abounds in horse, goats, and sheep (and even the occasional reindeer), the Gobi region also relies heavily on camels. That means camel meat, camel milk, and the dreaded camel cheese. The cheese, actually a hardened curd but very rarely referred to as such, is particularly unusual. Not only does it taste like sweat smells, but it's also hard enough that it takes serious commitment to finish even a single piece. Worth trying exactly once, if only for the experience.

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Winter Weekends at Terelj National Park

Prepared by Zola, General Manager at Mongolia Tourism Association for

October 9 ( As winter is approaching many might be already thinking about weekend escapes for fresh air and some activities. We will be introducing possible weekend getaways from now, and here is some information on the Terelj National Park, an easy 70km drive from Ulaanbaatar to the east. The national park has long been a favorite destination of the locals and the foreigners alike, with its' spectacular granite mountains & the Tuul river valley – excellent for hiking and horse riding. 

Take your family or friends out of UB and enjoy a fun weekend in the wilderness of Terelj. Additionally, you can stop at the impressive Giant Genghis Statue at Tsonjin Boldog – the newest landmark of Mongolia, on your way to Terelj.

There are many Ger camps in Terelj, however, only a handful of them operate all year around.

Below is where you can stay in en-suite accommodation in Terelj National Park throughout the winter:


We offer accommodations that include high-end hotel suites and rooms, as well as cabins, and traditional gers (yurts). With over 70 beds on the property, we can accommodate nearly any group, function or personal requirement. Our facility has all modern conveniences, including fiber-optic WiFi, genuine 24/7 HOT AND COLD RUNNING WATER (guaranteed), full-service restaurant and bar service….etc. The property is completely fenced with a sheep-and-goat proof exclosure and is supported by two deep wells, and a completely redundant electrical system, including a standby generator. We are open year-round, 24/7/365, and welcome you to our island of tranquility and adventure.

Ayanchin are happy to introduce their "winter package" especially for GoGo travelers:

  • Comfortable Authentic Mongolian Ger accommodation
  • Mongolian & Western style cuisine, enjoyed by everyone who stayed at our Lodge
  • Experienced & skilled staff, who served hospitality industry between 5-10 years.

Ayanchin also offers horse trekking, sledging, and karaoke rooms for your leisure.

The package price in MNT/per person:


Price per Pax (adults)

Mongolian staff

Package 1 (Ger, dinner, breakfast)

*shared washing facilities





Package 2 (cabin, dinner, breakfast)

*shared washing facilities





Package 3 (Hotel room, dinner, breakfast)





Child discounts available.

Contact us at:

Phone: 976 – 93032323, 976 – 99094539

Email:; Website:


Being the premier luxury hotel in Mongolia, Terelj Hotel is recommended to everyone wishing to indulge themselves in coziness in the wilderness. A scenic upcountry drive from Ulaanbaatar transports you to the Terelj Hotel and Spa, one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Nestled in an almost untouched corner of the earth – Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, this palatial yet intimate hotel is a destination in itself. Luxury spa, swimming pool and playground available.

Moreover, discover serenity and renewal in the Tereljmaa Spa, with its array of massages and treatments. Share family time in the heated pool and Jacuzzi. Or let the children play in their own club – while you enjoy time as a couple over fine cuisine and a fine Cuban cigar. Then relax in luxurious rooms and suites designed for comfort, and accented by Mongolian antiques and contemporary art.

Contact us at: or call +976 9999 2233

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Mongolia Part 1 - Ulaanbaatar and around

October 9 (Richard Simko) Land of Eternal Blue Skies. That's how Mongolia is often called. It was my dream of many years to visit this country. Intrigued by the beautiful vistas, history and people. I finally got my chance. I started and ended my trip in Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital in the world.

I landed in Ulaanbaatar mid day so I had a good look at the city from the plane. I was surprised how big the city was. Nearly half of Mongolian population live here today and more are coming. With total population just over 3 million and being the 19th largest country in the world, Mongolia has the lowest population density of all independent countries. Somehow Ulaanbaatar felt very much like going back to my own country about 20 years back, just after Velvet Revolution. Russian influence is still very visible although being slowly taken over by western influences. Cyrillic alphabet also adds to impression of being in former Soviet satellite. Especially architecture gives it away. Older residential blocks look just like the ones from Eastern Europe. I know, I used to grow up in one just like these. Looking at number of construction sites, the industry is booming. There is an obvious shift  from Russian style concrete blocks to modern western style condominiums. Very distinct feature of Ulaanbaatar is the fact that many of it's residents still live in gers. They can be found even in very close proximity to the city center. Suburbs and outskirts are full of them. I guess some habits die hard. It is also quite possible that many of them still live in the gers for pure economic reasons. 

Today's Ulaanbaatar is a modern city with everything you would expect from it. All the modern amenities are widely available. People go around their business and nothing suggests this is the capital of the country where most of the population still more less follows traditional nomadic style of life. Also traffic is like in any other modern metropolis. It is bad. I mean really bad. At the times I compared it to Bangkok. Relatively low price of the cars caused this traffic boom and negative effects are visible especially during peak hours. Roads are congested, air is quite smoggy. I suggest to allow for extra time when trying to catch a flight. Airport is just outside the city but getting away from city center buzz might take a while. Cars drive on the right side of the road but strangely enough vehicles with steering wheel on either side can be seen. Main street in Ulaanbaatar is called Peace Avenue and it stretches few kilometers from East to West side. Along this street you find the heart of the city, the Chinggis Khaan (Sükhbaatar) Square. It is an interesting place. I spent few hours there and got approached by students wanted to practice their English or tour guides offering their services. All people were very kind and not pushy as experienced in some other countries.

Chinggis Khaan (or Genghis Khan) is everywhere. Just like the King in Thailand, Chinggis Khaan enjoys the same cult status in Mongolia. Air crafts land in Chinggis Khaan International Airport. There are equestrian statues of him just outside the airport. There is the Chinggis Khaan Square, Khaan Bank, Chinggiss Khaan Hotel and of course Chinggis Vodka. Obviously he is almost on every bank note. Mongols are very proud of their most famous ancestor, the founder of largest continuous empire ever known to the man kind. Chinggis is a very interesting figure. I was fascinated by him as young boy. Barbarian and conqueror as well as very pragmatic and inventive leader. For example Mongolian Empire enjoyed quite unprecedented religious freedom and tolerance which the world would need these days in triple doses. There is still lot to be learned from his legacy. Another monument, the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex can be found about an hour drive from the city. It is bit far but definitely worth to see. It is a huge 40m tall statue that is symbolically pointed to the east towards the direction of his birthplace. 

Morning walk to the Zaisan Hill, a World War II memorial offers probably the best view of Ulaanbaatar. From here the sheer size of the city is evident as well as layer of grey smog hanging above it even during clear days. 

Another popular destination, the Terelj National Park can be reached within a hour drive from Ulaanbaatar. Main attractions here are the Turtle Rock and a Buddhist Monastery. Unfortunately, this area doesn't resemble real Mongolia any more. There are tourist ger camp resorts everywhere and area around Turtle Rock seemed to be overrun by them. Also there is lots of rubbish everywhere. It is hard to get a good photograph without any of these distractions in the frame. It could have been beautiful few years back.

Mongolian language doesn't sound anything like you heard before. They use Cyrillic alphabet but this is as close it comes to Russian or other Slavic languages using the same alphabet. It sounds very exotic but it is not a tonal language either. This suggests that it should be easier to learn Mongolian but I guess the opposite is true. From the sound some Mongolian words are close to impossible to say correctly. There are also few dialects used across the country but for me there is no difference. They sound the same.

Best feature of Mongolia are it's people renowned for their hospitality which I can confirm is true. I was warned prior to the trip about usual suspects of "modern diseases" of city life as pick pocketing, ripping of and taking advantage of tourists but I personally have not encountered any of these. Country is considered safe for travel, even for families or single females. Most likely visitors will be accompanied by guide or driver anyway. Distances are huge and transport infrastructure for tourism outside the city is almost non existent. Either you have few months of time and you get yourself a horse or just go with the tour and transportation will not be an issue any more.

As for staying in Ulaanbaatar I booked very affordable hostel called Danista Nomad Tours Hostel. It is very good value for money. Nothing fancy but feels very cozy and homely. Also staff is very friendly and helpful. I stayed with them at the beginning of the trip and I didn't see any reason why not to book few days at the end of my trip. It is a good place for solo travelers and couples on budged. I highly recommend them.

National currency is called Mongolian tögrög (or Tugrik). Conversion rate is roughly USD $1 to 2000₮.

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Suite 702, Level 7, Express Tower

4 Peace Avenue, Chingeltei District 1

Ulaanbaatar 15160, Mongolia

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