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Thursday, January 5, 2017

[CICG to issue shares; TRQ appoints director; MNT sets another low; OT suppliers forum to be held; and who really killed Zorig?]

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         CIC Gold To Issue 70 Million Shares, Working On Re-Admission

·         Turquoise Hill appoints Maryse Saint-Laurent as independent director

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report: Top 20 +0.06%, ALL +0.03%, Turnover ₮19.2 Million Shares

Economy

·         Mongolia's MNT sets 2nd straight historic low vs USD

·         BoM issues ₮133 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -41.5% to ₮344.3 billion

·         8% mortgages being issued normally says Bank of Mongolia

·         Mining accounts for 85 percent of Mongolia's total exports

·         Bank of Mongolia not considering introducing ₮50 thousand banknotes

Politics & Legal

·         Who gave the order to kill S.Zorig?

·         New mining law draft to cover wider scope

·         Saturday Jan 7 is a normal working day

·         Military registration begins in capital city

·         Mongolia Focus: Blogging in 2016

·         Mongolia year in review 2016

Business

·         Oyu Tolgoi Supplier's Forum will be held

·         UB's Central Swimming Pool to be privatized on January 9 auction

·         Exporting is GREAT: Mongolia - Ice-cream production equipment needed

Ulaanbaatar

·         ₮132 billion spent on reducing air pollution in 2011-2015

·         UB city and Energy Ministry to cooperate on reducing air pollution

Diplomacy

·         Mongolia asks Turkey's assistance in upgrading Karakorum airport

·         Mongolia's 'Indian' refinery: an end to petroleum imports

·         India's outreach to Mongolia as China throttles imports to the landlocked nation

·         The Minister of Defense of Mongolia receives the Cuban Ambassador

Culture & Society

·         Mongolia's 'Adidas' mummy to go on display at National Museum

Nature & Environment

·         Mongolia: Severe Winter - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA)

Sports

·         D.Sumiya and D.Otgondalai named Best Athletes of 2016

·         Mongolian athletes will compete at Ice Climbing World Cup

·         World weightlifting champion M.Ankhtsetseg's sibling follows in her footsteps

Art & Entertainment

·         Movie Review: The Eagle Huntress 'simple but empowering'

·         "My World - 3" painting exhibition on display at UMA gallery

·         Mongolian-Russian teenage dance couple win US championships

·         20th "Foremost Calligraphers of Mongolia" national competition to be held

Travel

·         Ulaanbaatar-Darkhan road to be expanded in 2017

·         Joseph Recupero '17 shares reflections on studying in Mongolia

·         An Unforgettable Experience - Riding Guests talk about their horsetrek in Mongolia with Stone Horse

·         The Muck Bucket List: Mongolia, Revisited

·         Tours to Mongolia – Enjoy the Mongol Nomadic Culture

·         Trans Mongolian Train – heading for Beijing

·         Surprise in Mongolia- from Hell to Heaven

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

CIC Gold To Issue 70 Million Shares, Working On Re-Admission

LONDON, January 4 (Alliance News) - CIC Gold Group Ltd (LON:CICG) said Wednesday it will place 70.0 million shares at 1.45 pence each ahead of its re-admission to trading on the London Main Market, and said it continues to work with the UK Listing Authority to resolve an ongoing enquiry.

CIC is placing the shares in order to raise funds for its acquisition of an 80% stake in Gobi Minerals. The original plan had been for CIC to directly issue 280.0 million shares to the sellers of Gobi Minerals, but this was adjusted to meet rules requiring at least 25% of the company's issued share capital to be in the hands of European Economic Area residents.

The 1.45p issue price is the same at which the company's shares last traded, on November 3, 2016.

Although CIC did not disclose exactly how much it expects to raise from the placing, the price indicates a GBP1.0 million fundraise. CIC has previously said its acquisition of Gobi Minerals is for a payment of around GBP5.6 million, with the remainder to be satisfied in 210.0 million shares issued directly to the sellers of Gobi Minerals.

CIC said market makers and other investors have committed to purchasing the issued shares and shares will be placed with existing shareholders first.

The company also said it continues to work with the UK Listing Authority ahead of its re-admission, having been subject to an enquiry from the body in January 2016, relating to its acquisition of the stake in Gobi Minerals. CIC Gold did not say when it hoped to achieve re-admission to trading.

CIC added that during 2016 it entered into convertible loans with CIC Capital Fund Ltd for GBP1.2 million and a Hong Kong syndicate for GBP1.1 million. CIC said the loans are sufficient to meet its historical debts and fully fund its expanded operations for the next twelve months.

Link to article

Link to CICG release

Back to Headlines

Turquoise Hill appoints Maryse Saint-Laurent as independent director

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - January 04, 2017) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced the appointment of Maryse Saint-Laurent, ICD.D, to the Company's Board as an independent director effective January 4, 2017.

Ms. Saint-Laurent is an accomplished legal executive, corporate director and senior advisor to boards and management teams with almost 20 years of experience in the energy and electricity sectors. Since 2015, she has served as a legal and governance advisor. From 2013 until 2015, Ms. Saint-Laurent was Vice-President Legal and Corporate Secretary (General Counsel) for TransAlta Renewables Inc. From 2005 until 2015, she was Corporate Secretary and later appointed Vice-President Legal for TransAlta Corporation. From 2001 until 2005, Ms. Saint-Laurent served as Corporate Secretary and General Counsel for TC PipeLines, LP. From 1997 until 2005, she was Senior Legal Counsel at TransCanada Corporation. From 1981 until 1992, Ms. Saint-Laurent served in a variety of labour and human resources positions. Ms. Saint-Laurent currently serves as a director for the Alberta Securities Commission, Western Sky Land Trust and the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre.

Newly-appointed Turquoise Hill Chairman, Peter Gillin, said, "We welcome Maryse to the Turquoise Hill Board and look forward to benefitting from her diverse background as a legal executive as well as an experienced director."

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Jan 4: Top 20 +0.06%, ALL +0.03%, Turnover ₮19.2 Million Shares

January 4 (MSE) --

Link to report

Back to Headlines

Economy

Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, January 4 Close

 

1/4

1/3

1/2

12/28

12/27

12/26

12/23

12/22

12/21

12/20

High

Date

USD

2,493.00

2,491.48

2,489.43

2,489.53

2,486.98

2,490.11

2,490.24

2,490.34

2,489.68

2,488.82

2,493.00

1/4/2017

EUR

2,602.07

2,595.62

2,617.76

2,605.79

2,597.53

2,604.28

2,600.06

2,599.42

2,590.64

2,585.76

2,681.43

11/10/2016

JPY

21.18

21.10

21.25

21.19

21.20

21.25

21.20

21.17

21.16

21.08

23.49

11/09/2016

GBP

3,061.03

3,054.55

3,074.32

3,057.89

3,053.51

3,059.22

3,057.27

3,078.93

3,077.74

3,081.28

3,183.26

8/13/2014

RUB

40.95

40.86

40.63

41.03

40.87

40.89

40.92

40.96

40.73

40.31

54.32

6/27/2014

CNY

358.61

358.08

358.45

357.96

357.85

358.32

358.33

358.50

358.19

358.09

361.23

11/10/2016

KRW

2.07

2.07

2.06

2.06

2.06

2.07

2.07

2.07

2.09

2.09

2.14

12/08/2016

SGD

1,724.66

1,718.38

1,718.33

1,716.50

1,717.35

1,720.82

1,723.17

1,719.73

1,723.38

1,721.29

1,752.48

11/10/2016

CAD

1,858.71

1,856.33

1,851.77

1,834.45

1,838.80

1,843.16

1,846.26

1,853.55

1,862.70

1,855.32

1,896.38

12/14/2016

AUD

1,812.54

1,796.61

1,789.53

1,794.83

1,788.51

1,791.39

1,795.34

1,800.14

1,805.02

1,804.02

1,886.29

11/10/2016

HKD

321.44

321.21

320.88

320.89

320.51

320.93

320.85

320.85

320.78

320.48

321.44

1/4/2017

CHF

2,431.25

2,426.45

2,441.46

2,423.37

2,417.83

2,428.31

2,427.25

2,426.88

2,422.46

2,420.80

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,488 Sell ₮2,495), TDB (Buy ₮2,488 Sell ₮2,495), Golomt (Buy ₮2,488 Sell ₮2,495), XacBank (Buy ₮2,490 Sell ₮2,497), State Bank (Buy ₮2,488 Sell ₮2,495)

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

Link to rates

Back to Headlines

BoM issues 133 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -41.5% to ₮344.3 billion

January 4 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 133 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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8% mortgages being issued normally says Bank of Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) Bank of Mongolia has reported that mortgage issuance continues normally, adhering to 'Regulation on financing apartment mortgage loan'. The regulation was renewed last October with 8 per cent interest loan for up to 30 year term and one can get mortgage loan for purchasing  apartment with less than 80 sq.m, in condition paying less than 30 per cent of the apartment cost in advance.

By November, a total of MNT64.7 billion mortgage loan has been granted to 1072 borrowers. Commercial banks also issued mortgage loan worth MNT14 billion with their own sources.

Link to article

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Mining accounts for 85 percent of Mongolia's total exports

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) More than 20 mineral deposits were put into operation in the year of 2016, creating about 800 vacancies and over MNT 20 billion was invested in the mining industry of Mongolia, the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry reports. 

According to the expected state budget performance of last year, 19 tons of gold, 33 million tons of coal, 7.5 million tons of iron ore, 1.1 million tons of oil and 200 thousand tons of fluorite, 1.4 million tons of copper concentrate, 4.7 thousand tons of molybdenum concentrate and 100 thousand tons of zinc are anticipated to have been produced in 2016.  

The report of the Mining Ministry says, the mining sector accounts for 85 percent of the total exports of Mongolia, 63 percent of the industrial production, 18 percent of GDP and one-fourth of ¼ of the state budget revenue.

Link to article

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Bank of Mongolia not considering introducing ₮50 thousand banknotes

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) "Publishing of a new currency note for MNT 50 thousand is not in consideration of MongolBank", stated a spokesperson of the central bank.

The statement was made in response to unofficial reports that the Central Bank will be publishing a new note for MNT 50 thousand starting from 2017, and circulation of an image of the said note on the internet.

The spokesperson continued, "At present, Bank of Mongolia is putting its all efforts into seeking solutions for overcoming the existing economic challenges and reviving the economy. In comparison to this issue, publishing MNT 50 thousand note isn't important at all".

Thus, the MongolBank denied the alleged reports on the possible publishing of MNT 50 thousand note saying that the reports were unfounded.

"Publishing of a new

note is a matter that requires parliamentary discussion and decision. The MongolBank doesn't make such decision on its own", said the spokesperson.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Who gave the order to kill S.Zorig?

January 4 (news.mn) We will soon know who the person or persons were that gave the order to kill S.Zorig, one of the heroes of Mongolia's peaceful transition to democracy. So believes the Office of the Prosecutor General of Mongolia, which has reported that the law enforcement working group is now investigating exactly who ordered the murder. The working group includes officers from investigation division of the Office of the Prosecutor General and Police Serious Crimes Division.

On 27th of December, 2016, Ts.Amgalanbaatar and two others were sentenced to 24-25 years in prison for the murder of S.Zorig. The trial was held at the 461st detention centre 18 years or 6642 days after the event occurred.

On October 2nd 1998, the then Mongolian Minister of Infrastructure S.Zorig was brutally murdered. The fact that such a long period of time has elapsed since the murder of such an important politician has given rise to speculation about cover-ups in high places.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

New mining law draft to cover wider scope

January 4 (news.mn) The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry of Mongolia is drafting a new Mining Law to regulate all mine-related business from starting operations to the mine closure. The new law will also cover technical and matters concerning the miners themselves. Currently, these matters are regulated by the Minerals Law of Mongolia, adopted in 2014.  The initiators of the new draft said, the Minerals Law of Mongolia is gives priority to regulating obtaining licences and financial accountability. The new law is intended to cover a wider range of issues.

Link to article

Related:

Mining relations to be regulated by specific lawMontsame, January 4

Back to Headlines

Saturday Jan 7 is a normal working day

January 4 (gogo.mn) According to the Cabinet decision, working day of Dec 30th, 2016 transferred to this Saturday (Jan 7th, 2017) nationwide, letting the residents to have four days off during the New Year. 

The decision was made due to influenza outbreaks and severe weather condition.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Military registration begins in capital city

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) "The City Administration announced that 2017 will be designated as a year for reformation of legislation with citizen participation. Corresponding to this decision, Military Staff of the Mayor's Office will be working towards raising public awareness on defense legislation and promoting its implementation this year", said Chief of the Military Staff J.Boldbaatar to reporters on January 2 during a press briefing.

The press briefing was held to announce that the 2017 military enlistment registration would be taking place on January 4-20. Therefore, starting from today, all men aged 25 to 50 and women with military profession will start applying for the military registration in Ulaanbaatar.

Pursuant to Clause 34 of the Law on Military Service of Mongolia, 'Procedure for the organization of military and technical registration' of the General Staff of Mongolian Armed Forces and the 2016 ordinance No. 853 of Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, the registration for military aged personnel will be made at 152 Khoroos of the 9 districts of Ulaanbaatar.

"On September 1, 2016, a package of revised law on defense sector was adopted by Parliament, and this registration process is to run in compliance with the Law", said J.Boldbaatar. The Law states that local administrative units will conduct a military registration every year. Military service is compulsory in Mongolia.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia Focus: Blogging in 2016

By Julian Dierkes

January 4 (Mongolia Focus) In the sixth calendar year of the existence of this blog, we were once again very happy to find a significant number of readers. In the course of the year, we wrote 68 new posts.

Highlights of Google Analytics data of our readership for calendar 2016:

§  14,500 readers (all time: 83,000) read over 41,600 pages

§  our  busiest day was June 29, the date of the election with over 600 readers that day alone

§  returning users make up about 40% of our readers

§  1.76 pages per session

§  just under 2min per session

§  country shares of readers:

§  Mongolia 28%

§  U.S. 16%

§  Canada 13%

§  UK 5%

§  Australia 4%

§  Germany 3%

§  then Japan, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, India…

§  most popular posts (with number of readers and authors other than me noted)

§  "Planning for 2016 УИХ Election" (980) [posted at the end of 2015]

§  "Immediate Reactions to MPP Landslide" (930)

§  "Mongolia in the Panama Papers" (780)

§  "The Many Habits of Successful Mongolian Digital Diplomats" (610)

§  "The Story of the Discovery of Oyu Tolgoi" (552) by Byambajav D

§  "Questions about Purchase of Erdenet Mining" (532) guest post by Lkhagva E

§  "Democracy in Decline?" (509)

§  "Politbarometer April 2016" (425)

§  "Mining Governance: Learning from Erdenet" (378) by Mendee J

§  "Resource Nationalism?" (331)

§  Not surprisingly, the majority of these posts were related to politics and the 2016 election and to mining.

§  The all-time most-read post is "Corruption in Mongolia According to Transparency International" (1,500+)

§  Just over half of our readers find us through web searches, just under 20% arrive via social media.

Comparing to 2015

If we compare to 2015, our readership has remained roughly stable, though this year's readers read more posts.

There were more Chinese readers this year.

Social media referrals are up.

Link to post

Back to Headlines

Mongolia year in review 2016

January 4 (Mongolian Economy) MPP wins parliamentary election

One of the most important events this past year was the general election determining the government for the next four years.

The parliamentary election was held on June 29, 2016. The Democratic Party (DP) faired poorly in this election while it was a landslide victory for the Mongolian People's Party (MPP). The MPP won 65 out of 76 seats, while the DP won 9, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party 1, and independent candidate S.Javkhlan won the one remaining seat. Leaders of the DP Z.Enkhbold, Ch.Saikhanbile, N.Altankhuyag, Kh.Temuujin, M.Batchimeg, Lu.Gantumur and Kh.Battulga lost out in this election.

ASEM Summit held in Mongolia

The presidents of 11 countries and 23 heads of governments attended the ASEM Summit held in Ulaanbaatar in summer 2016. President Ts.Elbegdorj noted the summit as "once-in-a-century opportunity." More than 4,000 guests and delegates from about 50 countries that attended the summit returned home with good impressions of Mongolia and organisation of the event, whichwas the largest political gathering in Mongolia's modern history. Prior to this, historical sources say that the number of guests invited to Guyuk Khan's accession to the throne in 1246 reached 4,000.

Mongolia, sandwiched between the two major powers of Russia and China, showed the world that it can contribute its voice in international affairs and peace. Mongolia made a huge investment in itself within the framework of the preparation for the ASEM Summit.

Erdenet Mining Corporation becomes fully Mongolian-owned

Just two days before the parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg made the announcement that the 49 percent stake of Erdenet Mining Corporation's (EMC) owned by Russia's Rostech was transferred to the Mongolian Copper Corporation. Thus, the Mongolian-Russian joint venture Erdenet Mining Corporation became 100 percent owned by Mongolian entities.

U.Byambasuren was appointed as the Chairman of the board and Kh.Badamsuren was appointed as the Director General of this major national public-private joint industry. The new board members consist of four government members and three members of the Mongolian Copper Corporation.

In the past years, EMC used to split the dividends 51:49 with the Russian side and paid about USD 40 million to Rostech,money which can be absorbed domestically.

"Economic corridor" established

The results of the meeting between the heads of Russia, Mongolia and China held three years ago were realised in Tashkent at the end of July of last year.

Thirty-two projects was approved to be implemented within the framework of Mongolia-Russia-China economic corridor during a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS countries held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, laying the foundation for broad cooperation among the three neighbouring countries.

These 32 projects cover a broad range of sectors including energy, transportation, humanities, medicine and agriculture.

Judges of the S.Zorig case reach conclusions

The murder case of political and social figure S.Zorig was carried over from investigation to the courts after 18 years. Although it is said that this case, which determined the suspects after 18 years, is not related to politics, the court stated that a closed trial should take place as state secrets and classified documents are invoked in the case.

After five days of trial, the court made itsfinal decision on December 27. The court handed a sentence of 24-25 years to the defendants B.Sodnomdarjaa, T.Chimgee and Ts.Amgalanbaatar.

The court concluded that the three suspects carried out orders to murder S.Zorig motivated by greed; however, the person who ordered the assassination remains unclear.

Dalai Lama visits Mongolia

The 14th Dalai Lama visited Mongolia for the ninth time in November.

On the last day of his visit on November 23, it was clear that the main reason of the Dalai Lama's visit was to identify the 10th reincarnation of the Jebtsundamba Khutugtu. The Dalai Lama informed that there was an indication the 10th reincarnation was born in Mongolia, and said: "I believe that there is no need to publicly announce it since the 10th reincarnation is a child."

Although Gandantegchinlen Monastery stressed that the visit of his holiness was purely religious, Chinese officials, which opposed his visit to Mongolia, indefinitely postponed four meetings with Mongolian counterparts.

MNT falls by 40 percent

The Mongolian tugrik was named as the weakest currency in the world,with the picture of Genghis Khan on the 20,000 tugrik note plastered across global media.

A shock due to expectations on November 10 created bubbles, and the tugrik started to fall by MNT 100 per day against the USD. This year, the weakening of Mongolia's currency was felt even more intensely after the parliamentary elections, and fell nearly 40 percent in the span of six months.

Mongolian scientists contribute to cancer research

A team of scientists led by State Honoured Academic D.Batsuren, the Director of Chemistry and Chemical Technology Institute of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, has conducted research on cancer treatment medicine using plants that grow in Mongolia and started producing experimental cancer prevention drugs. The scientists made their discovery in the US.

The government awarded the scientists MNT 100 million in appreciation of their achievement. It was shown in experiments that the new substance, called daurinol, works against many types of cancer, particularly colon cancer.

Olympic silver medal

The 31st Summer Olympic Games were held in Rio de Janeiro on August 5-21.

Mongolia sent the biggest team of athletes in its history, with 43 Mongolian athletes competing in these Olympic Games. D.Sumya won silver in the 57 kg women's judo, and D.Otgondalai won bronze in the 60 kg men's boxing. Mongolia ranked 76th out of 206 countries on the final score sheet.

As for the Paralympic Games which began on September 7, eight Mongolian athletes competed in 5 categories. E.Sodnompiljee won bronze in men's powerlifting in the 88 kg category, and B.Uugankhuu won bronze in the 60 kg men's judo.

The 11th Assembly of International Mongolist Scholars was held

The 11th Assembly of International Mongolist Scholars was held on August 15-18 under the auspices of President Ts.Elbegdorj.

First held in 1959 and held every five years, the assembly was attended by 400 international and domestic scholars from 29 countries. The researchers joined sub-conferences under the topics "Mongolian Language and Script Studies", "Mongolian History Studies", "Mongolian Culture and Literature Studies", "Mongolian Society and Economy Studies" and "Mongolian International Relations." Participants noted a growing interest in Mongolian studies across the world.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Business

Oyu Tolgoi Supplier's Forum will be held

January 4 (gogo.mn) Oyu Tolgoi invites interested parties to register for the Supplier Forum to be held on 31 January, 2017 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The Oyu Tolgoi Supplier Forum is designed to:

  • Demonstrate Oyu Tolgoi's commitment to building in country supply chain with focus on Life of Mine goods/ services, covering both operations and underground
  • Communicate on how to do business with Oyu Tolgoi
  • Elaborate the Contractors' key requirements in doing business with Oyu Tolgoi

Click HERE to register now.

Link to article

Related:

Oyu Tolgoi to gather its suppliersMontsame, January 4

Oyu Tolgoi Suppliers' Forum to be heldnews.mn, January 4

Back to Headlines

UB's Central Swimming Pool to be privatized on January 9 auction

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) 'Central Swimming Pool' owned by the capital city will be privatized through an open auction on January 09. The center was built in 1986 and big amount of money has been spent from the capital city's budget to maintain the building. Every district of Ulaanbaatar now has its own training centers for swimming and the "Central Swimming Pool and the its Training Center" runs activities with financial loss.

"- The Central Swimming Pool gives services to 80-120 thousand persons annually, running its training courses in four types of swimming. However the number of customers has decreased year by year, as there are more and more private owned swimming pools and training centers now. Therefore, previous authorities of Ulaanbaatar made a decision to privatize the center" said Ch.Odnasan, chair of the Property Relations Department of Ulaanbaatar city. The starting price of the auction is MNT10 billion 871 million and 620 thousand.

On January 09, more properties will be privatized in open auction, including kindergarten and family hospital buildings. For more information about the properties, visit www.umch.ub.gov.mn.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Exporting is GREAT: Mongolia - Ice-cream production equipment needed

A dairy production company is looking for a production line capable of producing 300kg of ice cream per hour.

Market: Mongolia

Sectors: Food & Drink

Opportunity Type: Private Sector

The company is looking for automated technology that produces packaged ice-cream in a cone or on a wooden stick.

Packing could involve some manual work.

The company currently produces milk, yoghurt and beverages.

Register your interest for more information from our Department for International Trade team in Mongolia.

Link to opportunity

Back to Headlines

Ulaanbaatar

132 billion spent on reducing air pollution in 2011-2015

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petitions called a meeting on Wednesday on reducing air pollution. Answering to a question of MP Sh.Radnaased on how much has been spent over the past year for fight against air pollution, the working group on reducing air pollution informed that some MNT 132 billion was spent on actions directed at curbing air pollution between 2011 and 2015.

About 90 percent of the spending was dedicated to the distribution of low-emission stoves and alternative fuels, said the official.

Yo.Baatarbileg MP put forward a criticism that the air pollution issue has been on the table for too long with no evident results, and underlined that it is important to set short, medium and long term objectives in details.

He also wanted to clarify on whether it is possible to implement the nighttime electricity tariff discount in provincial centers, which the working group answered that they had been studying the possibilities.

Link to article

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UB city and Energy Ministry to cooperate on reducing air pollution

January 4 (MONTSAME) Today, a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in 2017-2020 was signed by Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold and Energy Minister P.Gankhuu. The two sides agreed to cooperate in four directions, including heating and electricity supply of the city, combating air pollution and implementing certain projects and programs.

"- Ulaanbaatar City has been developing and is growing bigger from day to day. Followed by the growth, there is a need to newly build or expand and increase the capacity of networks of heating and electricity supply and infrastructure. We will work together with the Energy Ministry to solve these pressing issues" said Mayor S.Batbold.

Link to article

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Diplomacy

Mongolia asks Turkey's assistance in upgrading Karakorum airport

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) B.Batkhishig, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Turkey held a meeting with Serdar Cham, Head of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) on December 30. The dignitaries talked about bilateral economic relations and collaboration between Mongolia and TIKA.

Underlining that TIKA has successfully implemented a large number of projects cost over USD 30 million in total in Mongolia, Ambassador Kh.Batkhishig requested the TIKA's support for the development of the tourism industry, in particular, the renovation of an airport in Kharkhorum city.

In turn, Head of TIKA Serdar Cham expressed his willingness to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Mongolia and implement new projects in the future.

Link to article

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Mongolia's 'Indian' refinery: an end to petroleum imports

January 4 (news.mn) Mongolia will soon stop importing petroleum products when its new oil refinery begins operation. The new plant, is to be constructed using a USD 1 billion credit line from India's 'Export-Import' Bank.

The landlocked central Asian country hopes to save hundreds of million dollars by producing its own petroleum products; every year it spends nearly USD 1 billion on imports, practically all from Russian refineries. In December alone, USD 219 million of diesel and USD 172 million of petrol were imported.   

The refinery is expected to be a 'game changer' and will help the currently floundering Mongolian tugrik against foreign currency as well as drastically lowering the retail price of petroleum products. Mongolia will also become energy independent from its neighbours; at present 90 percent of all processed petroleum products used in Mongolia are imported from Russia and the crude from the domestic oil fields is all sent to China for refining. The refinery will provide a stimulus for the development of the country's extensive hydrocarbon resources, mostly located in the east of he country. Another economic possibility would be the creation of a domestic chemical industry and producing plastics. Assuming that the refinery will be able to provide high levels of refining, Mongolia could produce aviation fuel, which, in turn, would reduce ticket costs and boost tourism.  Finally, the refinery and all its spin-off enterprises would generate jobs for thousands of people.  

The new refinery is expected to have an annual processing capacity of 1.5 million tonnes; the crude oil will be transformed into 560 million tonnes of Euro Standard 4.5 fuel, 670 million tonnes of diesel fuel and 107 million tonnes of liquefied gas.

The oil refinery is forecast to generate USD 1.2 billion in production revenue annually and will have a USD 43 million net worth. It is expected that the refinery will cover the investment costs within 8-10 years.

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India's outreach to Mongolia as China throttles imports to the landlocked nation

Mongolia is sandwiched between powerful China and Russia and Narendra Modi has accepted the challenge by giving a $1 billion LOC and reaching out

by MG SINGH

January 4 (Blasting News) #Mongolia is a landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and #china. At one time the likes of Genghis Khan had swept that part of the world but now the country is confined by its two big neighbors. The Americans have shown just a cursory interest in this landlocked nation dictated by a fear of China. Maybe things will change with the advent of Donald Trump. Mongolia is a Buddhist nation and recently it invited the Dalai Lama to a prayer meeting. This incensed the Chinese to whom the Dalai Lama is something akin to persona non grata. They decided to act and throttled all goods from China to Mongolia.

Modi steps in with LOC

The Indian prime minister had earlier as part of his outreach visited Mongolia, the first ever by an Indian prime minister. He had also given a $1 billion line of credit to Mongolia. This angered China. After the Chinese blockade, #Modi went into the act and decided to help Mongolia use the $1 billion line of credit and buy essential goods. Mongolia has a long historical connection with India - the Buddha the founder of Buddhism was born in India and Buddhism spread from India to Tibet, China, Japan and Mongolia from India. The Mongols follow the Mahayana school of Buddhism which is similar to the religion followed by the people in the Indian state of Ladakh. Modi decided to call the Chinese bluff which in an editorial was said that if the Chinese could take on the USA (like capturing their drone from the high sea) they could easily take on India. Modi was, however, undeterred.

India and Mongolia

India and China are the big players in Asia and China is cultivating Pakistan. Probably for that reason, Modi reached out to Mongolia which has been sending its soldiers for training to Indian military schools. Mongolia landlocked between Russia and China, is in an unenviable position and Donald Trump must focus on this state in Central Asia. The Indian have been cultivating Mongolia for last three decades but it is only under Modi that the Chinese bluff has been called.With a restive Tibet on its south and Mongolia in the North, the Chinese are vulnerable and Donald must realize that these people and Asians look up to Donald to rectify the wrongs of history.

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The Minister of Defense of Mongolia receives the Cuban Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 4  2017 (Cuba's Representative Office Abroad) The Minister of Defense and Member of Parliament of Mongolia, Mr. Bat-Erdene Badmaanyambuu received today the Ambassador of Cuba in Mongolia, Raúl Delgado Concepcion, in a friendly meeting where the Minister, who also serves as President of the Parliamentary Group of Friendship with Cuba, highlighted the good relations between the two countries and appreciated the cooperation offered by Cuba in the field of scholarships for higher education for young Mongols.

Mr Bat-Erdene has been in charge of the Parliamentary Friendship Group with Cuba for four terms since 2004 and has contributed substantially to the development of friendly relations between the Parliament of Mongolia, And the National Assembly of People's Power in Cuba. During 2001 and 2007, delegations headed by Mr. L. Enebish and Mr. D. Lundeejantsan, former president and vice president of the Greater Mongolian Hural respectively, made official visits to Cuba as a sample of the continuous exchange between the two countries.

In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, were highlighted the possibilities of cooperation in areas such as health, culture and sport.

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Culture & Society

Mongolia's 'Adidas' mummy to go on display at National Museum

January 4 (news.mn) Recently archaeologists unearthed the 1,500-year-old remains of a woman in Mongolia's Altai Mountains. But the cutting edge footwear, with the trademark stripes of the sportswear 'Adidas' brand, has been causing a stir on the internet, and fuelling talk of time travel.

Experts believe the mummy was a young Turkic woman. The corpse was buried with a saddle, bridle, clay vase, wooden bowl, trough, iron kettle, and an entire horse.

The Mongolian Cultural Heritage Centre is working to restoration the archaeological find and reports that the task is now 80% complete. The mummy wearing 'Adidas boots' will go on display in the National Museum of Mongolia from March.

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Nature & Environment

Mongolia: Severe Winter - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) 

January 4 (International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies) --

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Dzud is a slow onset disaster which continues for several months as a result of many inter-linked factors.

Recent severe winter conditions worsened the situation with average temperature continuously being lower than normal and precipitation forming thicker layer of snow and ice over the grassland. The effect of Dzud is magnified due to the worsening socio-economic situation in the country. Mongolian animal husbandry is totally based on open grazing. In winter season, the open grazing exposes livestock and herders to harsher survival condition. Livestock lose their access to the grass buried under the snow or ice. Extreme snow limits the herders and their families' access to town centres for medical, social, and other services. Many are also at risk of life-threatening health problems if not treated in timely manner, including depression and stress. Many of the affected families lose their sole income source and are forced to move to urban areas especially ger districts in Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia.

Summary of the current response

Overview of Host National Society

The Mongolian Red Cross (MRCS) is a member of the National Emergency Commission and is actively involved in the planning and design of the national response to the emerging crisis. MRCS is working closely with NEMA, which has been assigned by the Mongolian government to coordinate overall response efforts in the country.

The MRCS National Disaster Response Team members (NDRT) have been alerted and are on standby to provide assistance to affected communities. Mid-level branches of MRCS are collecting information from their local soum authorities and participating in their respective local emergency commission meetings. The response plan of MRCS is being drafted with support of IFRC.

Assessments will be complemented by the Trilogy Emergence Relief Application (TERA) in cooperation with G-Mobile LLC. With the TERA, the mobile network subscribers can receive and send messages related to their needs to MRCS. As MRCS and IFRC are concluding experiences from response to the Dzud last year, MRCS's capacity to respond has shown to be strengthened through development and adopting new response mechanisms such as cash – based interventions, building stronger partnerships and establishing strong ties with service providers.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country:

IFRC has an in – country program coordinator in Mongolia with the coordination and support from the Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) in Beijing. IFRC will support the MRCS in the implementation of activities through joint coordination, technical support, assessments, training and PMER.

Movement Coordination

IFRC Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) in Beijing has been working closely and maintains close communication with MRCS. Meanwhile, IFRC had supported climate change adaptation pilot project which included scientific research and small – scale pilot interventions in targeted herder communities and British Red Cross conducted Dzud assessment in July 2016. Both research and assessment have laid solid foundations for the Dzud response planning.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

The Mongolian Deputy Prime Minister called for an Emergency Commission meeting in November 2016 and has instructed government agencies to be prepared for extreme winter conditions in the country. Mongolian government has met with HCT members on 22 December 2016 and issued a formal call for humanitarian aid to affected families. On 23 December, the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia issued a letter to the international community in Mongolia calling for financial and technical assistance. NEMA as the main responder to disasters in the country holds limited stocks of hay as well as maintains reserve pastures to be used during emergencies. However, the preparedness supplies are insufficient to provide for all Dzud affected population.

Other in-country humanitarian actors include UN, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, World Vision, People-in-Need, and Caritas.

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Sports

D.Sumiya and D.Otgondalai named Best Athletes of 2016

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) Asian Sport's Journalist's Association has announced the Best Athletes of 2016. Mongolian athletes D.Sumiya, silver medalist of Rio Olympics and D.Otgondalai, bronze medalist of Rio Olympics were included in the list. Apart from Mongolian athletes, three female and male athletes each from China, Iran and Yemen were selected as the Best Athletes of this year.

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Mongolian athletes will compete at Ice Climbing World Cup

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) A team of Mongolian athletes L.Nyambayar, N.Kherlen and D.Otgonkhuu, led by B.Zoljargal, Vice President for competition events of the Mongolian National Climbing Federation will compete at the Ice Climbing World Cup from January 7 to 9 in Beijing, China. 

The team departed from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing on January 4. Mongolian ice climbers will participate in the competition in two categories of speed and techniques.

During the Ice Climbing World Cup 2017, a training for international judges will be held. D.Batbold, Head of Judges Council of Mongolian National Climbing Federation and S.Delgermurun, member of the Federation, both of whom will work as a judge at the Ice Climbing World Cup, will attend.

Series of events of the Ice Climbing World Cup 2017 will continue on January 14-15 in South Korea and on January 20-21 in Switzerland.

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World weightlifting champion M.Ankhtsetseg's sibling follows in her footsteps

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) The State Championships in Weightlifting have been take place at the Central Palace of Sports in Ulaanbaatar. Total of 152 weightlifters from 16 teams are being challenged.

12 year-old Oyu-Erdene Munkhjantsan, a younger sister of the continental and world youth champion M.Ankhtsetseg, has been placed at 4th in women's 69kg. She lifted 41 kg in snatch and 51 kg in clean and jerk.

This weight category has been championed by the International Master of Sports G.Otgontuya from "Aldar" (Glory) sports committee, followed by G.Enerel from "Avragch" (Rescuer) team and D.Byambadelger from "Border Guard" team.

The 12-year-old was challenged this year in the adult championships for the first time. The bronze-medalist in her weight category was eight year older than her.

Her older sister Ankhtsetseg Munkhjantsan was ranked at 8th place in Rio 2016. She skipped this year's state championships due to the injury, acquired during her attendance in the World University Championships, held in Merida, Mexico.

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Art & Entertainment

Movie Review: The Eagle Huntress 'simple but empowering'

January 5 (New Zealand Herald) First time filmmaker Otto Bell spent his life savings to capture this story about Aisholopan, a 13-year-old girl from Mongolia who breaks a local tradition and becomes the first ever female to train an eagle for hunting.

It was money well spent.

This a beautiful and gentle documentary, well, except for a sacrificial killing of a goat and fox, and is filled with stunning landscapes. It's also an uplifting story of female empowerment that will resonate with teenage girls around the world - whether eagles are their thing or not.

Inspired by Israeli photographer Asher Svidensky's photographs of Aisholopan, Bell travelled to the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia to meet Aisholopan's family, including her father Agalai, a seventh-generation Master Eagle Hunter, to convince them to let him film Aisholopan's story.

During the summer, the family lives a nomadic life in traditional gers, or yurts, and in winter they settle in a small house.

They invited Bell to live with them on and off throughout the year as Aisholopan captures, trains, competes and finally hunts with her own eagle.

Much of the film's drama comes as Aisholopan achieves each steps. Watching her father lower her down a cliff face to snatch a young eagle from its nest is particularly nerve-racking. We then watch her work hard with her father to train the eagle, until the first moment of truth when Aisholopan participates in the Golden Eagle Festival. This is followed by a 22 day shoot on the tundra in winter as Aisholopan and her eagle attempt to capture their first fox.

Much of this footage is interspersed with quickly cut comments from older members of the Kazakh tribe commenting on why women shouldn't hunt with eagles. These segments come across as comical, and it's hard to know exactly what the locals think about Aisholopan and her new hobby.

Which points to one small problem - a lack of jeopardy. With supportive parents, determination and natural talent, Aisholopan makes it look relatively easy to achieve her dream, making this uplifting story feel a little too good to be true. It's hard though to look past the simple message - when brought up believing in themselves any young girl can be who she wants to be. For that reason alone, The Eagle Huntress is worth watching.

Cast: Aisholpan Nurgaiv 
Director: Otto Bell 
Rating: G
Running Time: 87 mins 
Verdict: A simple but empowering female story.

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"My World - 3" painting exhibition on display at UMA gallery

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) An exhibition "My World-3" is being displayed at the Art Gallery of Union of Mongolian Artists from January 3 to 5, unveiling over 80 art works of Mongolian painter Kh.Sodnomtseren and his student, ceramist U.Odmaa. 

Artist Kh.Sodnomtseren, who has been teaching for the past 20 years at the Mongolian State University of Culture and Arts, organized his own exhibitions back in 2005 and 2012. This time, he is holding the exhibition, jointly with his student U.Odmaa. In the exhibition "My World-3", he is aiming to present art works created in an unusual way of combining modern arts with the traditional Mongolian art styles with elaborate coloring and painting. 

Ceramist U.Odmaa is an young promising artist who has organized her personal exhibitions in Taejon city of Korea in 2010 and 2015. She has an unique method of ceramic making by incorporating elements of pillow and chain into the God sculptures.

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Mongolian-Russian teenage dance couple win US championships

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) A Mongolian teenager Bumchin Tegshjargal, 17, is now called along with his Russian partner Michelle Klets "the reigning young champions of US Latin ballroom dancing". They have won countless nationwide dance championships together in the USA, where they live.

The couple has been dancing together since September 2014, and became champions of the U-21 category of the Youth National Championships in Latin American Ballroom Dancing in 2016. They have been travelling from competition to competition across the Europe and other countries ever since. Their next goal is to become world champions.

T.Bumchin was born and had been living in Mongolia until he moved to Oakland in 2011 when he was 11 years old. Bumchin started dancing from the age of nine, and now he is dedicating all his time to dancing, "I would do some samba steps when I go grocery shopping", he says. "He never stops dancing", said Michelle about her partner.

As for Michelle, her parents, who danced professionally back in Russia, immigrated to the US when Michelle was only a toddler. She has been dancing since she was three.

"We are like a family, like brother and sister", said T.Bumchin on their relationship. They are not romantically involved, but love each other in a different way. Michelle said "We deeply love one another as friends. He is the one who is always there for me when I am down. I become very sensitive when he's around".

A multi-platform media company 'Fusion' described them in a video documentary that they have been breaking interracial barriers and stereotypes.

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20th "Foremost Calligraphers of Mongolia" national competition to be held

January 4 (MONTSAME) On the 9th of January, the 20th "Foremost Calligraphers of Mongolia" national competition will be organized by the MONTSAME News Agency's "Khumuun Bichig" weekly newspaper published in traditional Mongolian script.

Only Mongolian calligraphers used to participate in the event during its first years, which has been organized since 1997. In recent years, the competition has broadened its range to be attended by artists from neighboring countries.  

Since 2000, the President of Mongolia and the Prime Minister of Mongolia have attended twice and 14 times each, respectively the award ceremony of the competition to hand over prizes to the winners, showing a great importance the Mongolian government attaches to it.

Participants of the competition submit not only calligraphic works but also art works handcrafted using calligraphy styles.

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Travel

Ulaanbaatar-Darkhan road to be expanded in 2017

Ulaanbaatar, January 4 (MONTSAME) Minister of Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat established an agreement on Wednesday with the directors of subordinate divisions and policy departments in order to thoroughly realize the government objectives and actions for road and transport development in 2016-2020.

The agreement consists of 192 plans of actions, to be implemented on the margin of 26 measures of seven objectives.

The government objectives include resuming the construction of roads to reach the Asian Highway Network, connecting the centers of all provinces to the capital city, continuing the construction of the horizontal axis of the Millennium Road project and broadening of Ulaanbaatar-Darkhan auto road.

Also, the continuation of the Tavantolgoi-Gashuunsukhait railroad building, development of the feasibility study and launch of the Khuut-Bichegt railroad construction, start of the feasibility studies and blueprint of the Zuunbayan-Khangi railroad and the Bogdkhan Railroad Project and commencement of the Erdenet-Ovoot railroad construction are intended to take place in 2017.

The Ministry has been working on establishing International Agreement on Road Transport Relations with related authorities of Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.

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Joseph Recupero '17 shares reflections on studying in Mongolia

January 4 (Gettysburg College) "To get there, it took me a 10 hour drive one day, a 15 hour drive the next day, and then two days on a horse on a wooden saddle in -35° weather," recalled Joseph Recupero '17. He was on his way to interview Tsaatan reindeer herders for his independent research through the School for International Training program in Mongolia, where he studied abroad.

"The last month of the program, you complete independent research," said Recupero, a Political Science and Anthropology major and Africana Studies minor. "My project was on culture commodification in the Mongolian tourism industry and the motivating factors behind why tourism is moving into the area."

There are two regions where the Tsaatan herders have lived and worked for thousands of years: the East Taiga and West Taiga in northern Mongolia. While completing his background research, Recupero discovered that a movie released in the 1980s had impacted the traditions of reindeer herders who lived in the East Taiga. They changed their antler carving traditions to match the movie's so they could appeal to tourists. Recupero decided to interview reindeer herders in West Taiga to see if this was also true of that region—thus the long journey by horseback.

In his voice: field notes

During his time in Mongolia, Recupero kept field notes of his experiences and personal reflections. Below are a few snippets from his research journal.

  • "When you are standing on top of the world, you realize you are quite small and it is quite large and you are a part of something so much grander than yourself." -Standing atop mountains in Bayan Olgii, western Mongolia and thinking about my place in the world
  • "I'm slowly learning that anthropology is not about speaking for people, it is about allowing them to speak through you." -Reflection on interviews with Tsaatan reindeer herders
  • "I have no idea what is going to come of this research, but I know one thing, it was one hell of a ride." -Finishing my paper and reflecting on the research experience
  • "You may be sitting around waiting for the world, but it surely isn't waiting around for you. Better get out there and take in everything it has to show you." -Giving myself a little motivation about traveling on my own across Russia

 

Recupero studied abroad in Costa Rica previously and enjoyed the process of conducting research internationally. Originally, he hadn't considered traveling to Mongolia, but learned from the Center for Global Education that the program focused on nomadism, geopolitics, and the environment—areas in which Recupero was interested. It ended up being a good fit. Mongolia would provide Recupero with additional opportunities to hone the skills he knew he would need to pursue his Ph.D.

In addition to interviewing the Tsaatan reindeer herders, Recupero conducted ethnographic research with the Kazakh eagle-hunters in Western Mongolia and conducted interviews in Ulaanbaatar with tourism officials.

"The program helped me to plan everything, but I created my research design, worked on finding contacts, and scheduled my interviews and everything by myself," he said. "That helped prepare me for doing capstone work this year and then dissertation work down the road."

Recupero became interested in anthropology while he was still in high school, after a family friend suggested he research the field. It wasn't until Gettysburg, however, that he would learn he had a knack for teaching and a desire to pursue a Ph.D.

"While graduate school has been in the back of my mind at Gettysburg, I think it was only after being able to do hands-on research, give presentations, and get my work published that I knew research and academia was the road I wanted to go down," Recupero said.

"And it's been nice being able to do research here, because I can also incorporate my political science background and my Africana studies minor into my work. In some anthropological research, you work in isolation and with just one group of people. I am very interested in that, but I'm also very interested in studying how larger trends affect multiple groups of people throughout a country or a region and I can pool all of my majors together to do that. Anthropology as a field is also moving in that direction, so I'll be prepared for graduate school."

During his time at Gettysburg, Recupero has published several papers, including the research he conducted in Mongolia. (If you're curious, he learned the reindeer herders in the West Taiga were not impacted by the movie and tourists like the herders in the East Taiga.) He also had the opportunity to present his overall findings to an audience of professors and administrators in the Ministry of Tourism.

In his last year at Gettysburg, Recupero hopes to learn more about the field of political anthropology—how political decisions and policies are made and how they affect people at the local level. Then, it's off to graduate school.

"I think there's so much in the world to see and explore and learn about, and my majors and experiences allow me to do that," said Recupero. "That's also why I want to go into academia and teaching, because it's one thing to have experiences—it's another to share them and be able to educate people through them. It takes the work a step beyond."

More about Recupero

  • He's the diversity chair of the Sigma Chi-Gettysburg chapter.
  • You can spot Recupero giving tours on campus as an admissions tour guide.
  • He was a triple jumper and long jumper in Track and Field before suffering an injury.
  • He is a member of Friend or FOE, and helped organize a vigil remembering the victims of the Orlando shooting this past June.

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An Unforgettable Experience - Riding Guests talk about their horsetrek in Mongolia with Stone Horse

January 2 (Stone Horse Mongolia) Anna and Greg from Australia joined the Stone Horse Expeditions horsetrek in June 2016. Riders of very different experience levels, they both enjoyed the trip, riding through scenic landscapes, enjoying comfortable camping, good food, great trail horses and the attention the Stone Horse Team pays to ensure guests have a safe and enjoyable horse trekking experience - even when the weather is a challenge at times. The June trek in Mongolia's Gorkhi Terelj National Park saw some rainfall and high running rivers. The right clothing and expedition equipment still made it a trip guests enjoyed.

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The Muck Bucket List: Mongolia, Revisited

January 4 (Horse Nation) In the last installment of The Muck Bucket List, blogger Megan Kiessling brought us along for a horsey trip to Mongolia. She revisits a few unique aspects of that trip today!

Megan Kiessling blogs about the trials and tribulations of retraining her first OTTB at Let's Get Ready to Runkle, following the journey from hurdle horse to eventer through hilariously irreverent prose. This blog post was originally published on Let's Get Ready to Runkle on November 30, 2016.

So in my head I've had a fuzzy list of things I want to do in life. A bucket list. But it's all horsey themed, so instead of just a bucket list, it's a Muck Bucket list. Of all the stuff I want to do with horses before I kick it. See what I did there? It's a play-on-words pun.

  • Gallop on the beach
  • Ride side saddle
  • Go to Mongolia
  • Gallop a racehorse
  • Train a young horse
  • Be the first one on a horse's back
  • Eventing
  • Dressage
  • Grand Prix
  • Polo
  • Saddleseat
  • Combined driving
  • Endurance
  • Ride an Icelandic horse (in Iceland!)
  • Foxhunting
  • Ride with Anne Kursinski
  • Go to Badminton, Burghley, Rolex, Pau, Luhmuhlen and Adelaide

As soon as I wrote my first piece about my travels to Mongolia, I realized there was a TON of stuff I forgot or wished I could have put in. So here are a couple of odds and ends that I thought I might share.

1. Airag

The most typical alcoholic drink in Mongolia isn't something you'd find even in Wegmans' specialty booze section. It's fermented mare's milk.

Apparently mare's milk is great for fermenting. It has tons of sugar in it, which is a key ingredient in the process. They typically milk the mare, put the milk in canvas bags and hang it around the outside wall or ceiling of the ger (yurt in Western terms) for it to ferment.

At the Naadam Festival there were people going around picking empty bottles out of trashcans, filling them with airag from a metal container in some kind of wagon and turning around and selling it to people wandering around the festival.

One of our day trips took us to Karakorum, an epic capital that Marco Polo wrote about in his diaries of his travels on the Silk Road. Unfortunately Mongolians were pretty bloodthirsty savage people so at one point or another the city was razed to the ground. Now there's a monastery there filled with different gold Buddhas.

While we were there our guide managed to procure some airag and naturally I had to try some.

I'm not sure what I was expecting but it was the most disgusting thing I've ever had the misfortune of putting in my mouth. Our guide drank it casually like it was regular milk. She said they even give it to kids, and that Mongolian men ride from house to house drinking with people.

It tasted like liquified feta cheese. Or sour milk. Not just sour milk but milk that had been left out while you went on vacation for a month. And maybe the sun streamed in the window and shined on it. It was all I could do to not spit it out all over but I thought that would be horribly rude. So, uh, I'm glad I tried it because I needed to say I did, but holy crap.

2. The color blue

Shamanism isn't as popular in Mongolia as it used to be. Communism kind of ruined everything, what with its godlessness necessitating the murder of almost every religious person in the country. Mongolia was Communist until the early 80's, and when I was there it still had some sketchy commie leanings (for instance, the "Revolution Party" was actually the Communist party in disguise).

Anyway, even though most of the country is non-religious now they still hold on to a few of the more superstitious and popular traditions. Blue, and the sky, are very holy things to traditional Mongolian shamanism. Birds are considered sacred to the point where pigeons (yes, pigeons) are considered a sacred bird and are encouraged to land and poop all over everything in a monastery. It's because they're grey, which is a color of peace. Still seemed odd when we went to see a thirty foot gold Buddha that was covered in bird crap.

For luck, people had tons of these cheap scarves the same blue you'd see in the sky on a bright, sharp, sunny, cloudless day. It's considered good luck to hang them on the top of your ger or on your front door. I actually have one I bought from Karakorum that is still on my front door.

It's also popular and common to tie the scarves on young horses that you hope will be fast one day, as it's said the scarves will help the foal become as fast as the wind itself.

3. Naadam Opening Ceremony

Before the wrestling started on the first day of the Naadam Festival, the opening ceremony told the story of Chinggis (Mongolian for Ghengis) Khan.

Apparently Chinggis' mother flew down to him and his brothers from the top of a mountain to stop their infighting.

She handed him a bundle of arrows lashed together and told him to break them. He was unable to, because tied together they were stronger than they would be apart. It was a metaphor for her kids getting along instead of battling and feuding each other. And to think, my mom just put my sister and me in time out…

I think Chinggis and his brothers were happy and working together for a couple decades or so, at which point either they or their sons tried to murder each other and burn each other's cities to the ground. God his mom must've been pissed.

Mongolia also had the most impressive drill team I've ever seen in my life. Hundreds of horses went into creating the opening ceremony.

The banners are made from the hair of palomino horses. These are the peace time banners. In times of war the banners are made from black horse hair. Fun fact: apparently Chinggis' favorite color of horse was palomino. Palominos are really popular in Mongolia, and it was cute when my riding buddy was trying to explain the color to me because they don't have a word for it, or at least a translation. He pointed out a chestnut horse and said it looked like that but 'a little bit different' and with white mane and tail.

Yup. Palomino.

4. I rode a camel for the first time.

They had the two hump camels. Apparently mine was naughty. He tried to run off with me. Of course I'd fly thousands of miles away and get a naughty camel who tried to kill me.

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Tours to Mongolia – Enjoy the Mongol Nomadic Culture

January 4 (Goyo Travel) Mongolia continues to attract a lot of visitors, tourists, and adventurers because of its breathtaking landscapes, the charm of the city, and its culture. One of the most remarkable aspects of the country is its nomadic culture, which you can explore and experience in a specially arranged tour. In fact, a tour in Mongolia is never considered complete without experiencing the Mongol nomadic culture. A classic cultural group tour arranged by a reputable Mongolia travel specialist like Goyo Travel can get you started in some insightful and comfortable trips to Mongolia through varied landscapes while enjoying the Mongol nomadic culture.

Mongol nomadic culture is one of the oldest, dating back to at least a million years. Nomadic families continue to thrive across the steppes of Mongolia, with their herds living off the land, and in return, nomads live off the meat and milk of their animals. The family life is centred around a ger, a large and portable tent that is made of ornate wooden slats, felt, and tarpaulin outer covers. The ger is able to provide shelter and ample protection against the coldest temperatures, and it has everything a nomadic family will need, including a small kitchen, a shrine to holy figures or to their ancestors, a sleeping area, and a central stove.

A tour to Mongolia can let you experience the nomadic lifestyle and culture first-hand. Some tour itineraries include eating and staying over with a nomadic family, too. A homestay is a good chance to have cooking lessons and riding lessons, too. Some of the best Mongolia tour specialists can arrange a stay at a reputable ger camp in the spring or just before summer starts, which is usually the best time to enjoy and experience the Mongol nomadic culture without the crowds. That way, you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of nature and countryside.

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Trans Mongolian Train – heading for Beijing

January 4 (Boarding Today) The Trans Mongolian route continues: After a couple of days in Ulan Bator, time to add some train-miles.

My last morning in Mongolia was an early one. My AirBNB host had arranged to drive me to the railway station, and to meet me at 6 am in the apartment. Early rise and shine! Another very cold October morning, with some snow in the streets. I was ready for the mild fall temperatures in Beijing.

All Aboard the Trans Mongolian

On platform 1, a green Mongolian train was already waiting, despite me being an hour early. But unlike my earlier boarding, the doors were still closed and no attendants were around. Turned out that this train would "only" go from Ulan Bator to Beijing, and that it did not came from Moscow before. So after a Russian train between Moscow and Irkutsk, a Chinese train between Irkutsk and Ulan Bator, I now could call me a client of the Mongolian Railways.

A few minutes before the announced departure time, the train staff opened the door, and we could start installing our stuff. I found myself in a cabin with a German professor, who was on his way home in China.

Life aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway

The train left Ulan Bator, and made its way towards the southern border via the Gobi Desert. The one thing that keeps on disturbing me, as it did on my tour in Mongolia, is the amount of litter everywhere. The culture of nomads moving their Gers and leaving the garbage behind is, in the age of plastic, a disaster.

Another day on the train that's another day of instant soup. And another day of stops in stations where people are selling instant soup. I start counting down for the fresh Chinese food in Beijing. The one thing that I would recommend travelers on the Trans Siberian trains and Trans Mongolian trains, is to research all the things you can do with hot water when it comes to food. On my next trip here, I'll definitely change my strategy. The food in the restaurant of the train isn't bad, but pretty expensive if compared to what it is and compared to what you'd pay anywhere in Mongolia for a comparable meal.

Mongolia-China Border

By 7pm, about 12 hours after the train had left Ulaanbaatar, it reaches the border with China. As the night had set, it was a ride along spooky lit industrial fields. Exiting Mongolia went pretty smooth, in less than one and a half hour, the government agents had found that we could go ahead.

The seven dwarfs

The Chinese entrance required a lot more official visits to the train. A first official came door to door, asking where all came from. The next officer then asked for my passport, and checked if it had a visa. A third Chinese public servant came to pick up the customs forms. The fourth uniform was to collect the passport and the arrival cards. After a while, a fifth person came to check the cabin for stowaway. The sixth person was from a quarantine service to check our fever. And a little later a seventh visitor came to return our passports. The train could now go ahead to a hanger, where it would be fitted new wheels…

Different rail width

The space between the rails in most of the world is different in Mongolia and Russia than it is the rest of the world, including China. So when the train goes from the Mongolian system into the Chinese system, the wheels suddenly don't fit. So the train is lifted with hydraulic systems, one wagon at the time. The wheels are removed, and new wheels are brought in place. The whole operation took several hours on hour train. Since people are working beneath the train, no use of bathrooms. And without power, no lights either. Oh, and with the trains being shaken during these maneuvers, no chance of getting a sleep. So an ideal moment to meet the other people in the wagon that I hadn't seen before.

After several hours, our train with the new shiny Chinese wheels was on its way to Beijing!

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Surprise in Mongolia- from Hell to Heaven

January 4 (@jankasparec) I had fantasies about Mongolia and its endless planes stretching over the horizon. As with most fantasies, even this one was bound to be shattered. Little did I know what Mongolia had in store for me.

Mongolia was the last station on my second extended world trip sometimes in the last decade or so. Time is a funny concept to me, but I don't buy into it much, so I apologize for lack of precision in time-space continuum.

I was traveling with my buddy Ra. We met in Kazakhstan and slowly made our way on land through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China. Ra was a virgin in the traveling style that I pursue, which basically sums up to- no plan, no guidebook, no bookings, no going with the crowd. I also travel alone, but he somehow convinced me that we are meant to do this trip together. The boy learned fast. He soaked up my traveling knowledge like a sponge. In couple weeks I felt like he is a valuable addition to our trip, and that says a lot, cause I am one moody demanding bitch. Or at least back then I was. He changed me as much as I changed him. As much as Mongolia changed both of us.

We arrived to border crossing in Erlian (China) by bus from Beijing. We aimed to cross to Zamin Uud (Mongolia) by walk, only to find out that it can't be done. One has to be inside a vehicle. Forcing our way in one of the many passing cars after we got our exit stamp was not easy but fun. Because there was no such things as empty space in any of the passing cars. I eventually squeezed in between pile of boxes in old Russian jeep. Ra arrived later in similar smuggling mode.

Outside of busy border crossing, Zamin Uud is a lazy town. Before departure of overnight train to Ulaanbaatar we had enough time to play pool in the main square and get in trouble when we were asked to pay a hilarious sum afterwards, which we didn't do.

Crossing the Gobi desert by train was stunning. Sunset over the vastness of it. Train is my most favorite means of transport and I loved trains in Mongolia. Reminded me of my home country 30 years ago. We met great Mongolian people and I started to get a taste of how they are. Mongolians remind me of Vietnamese. They are proud and authentic. They are not one least bit impressed by westerners and if they don't like you, they will show it openly. I like that a lot.

We eventually found a great place to stay in Ulaanbaatar- the infamous Hotel Negdelchin. It was cheap, clean but shabby, and grumpy Mongolian gentlemen brought their lovers there for a quick fix. Receptionist was an old lady who actually started to like me once I switched from English to Russian. We were the only foreigners there. I loved that place.

One day we decided that it's about time we ride horses. We asked around and ended up in some local bus headed somewhere out of town. To my surprise, after an hour or two, we actually did end up in a village where everyone rode horses. So we went for a ride. First time to ride a horse for me. First time I realized how intelligent that animal is. It can actually laugh at you. At least it did laugh at me. I decided I won't be scared. At one point one local boy who was racing past me forced my horse to gallop unexpectedly. It was like losing virginity. I clung to my horse's neck, feeling the wind in my hair and the rush of awe and exhilaration. Ra scratched his behind to blood (something on his saddle) which made the locals bend in laughter cause they thought he shitted himself.

We camped in the woods by the river, cooked our dinner on fire, and went back to our strategic base in Negdelchin the next day.

The day of greater adventure came soon. We decided to cross Mongolia all the way up to Khovsgol lake, close to border with Russia. Train goes only to Bulgan, from there it's hundreds of kilometres of plains to cross. Some people told us that hitch hiking does not work in Mongolia so we decided to hitch hike. It went great for us. I remembered how I hitch hiked across whole Australia following tips of one of the guys who gave me a ride- he told me to dance. So we danced, by the side of the road, grinning from ear to ear. Some cars actually stopped just to look at us, the white idiots at the side of the road. And that's how we got a two day ride across the wide stretches of plains with an elderly couple. They only spoke Mongolian, so the initial communication about what we actually want (a ride west) was done via phone with their daughter, who spoke English.

It took us another lift to get to Khovsgol lake, actually maybe a few, one of them on a pick up truck.

Khovsgol village was rainy, cold, and unwelcoming. We bought some potatoes to cook in ashes and found a place to camp in the forest close to town. I was tired. And fed up with Mongolia. I liked the people, but I also disliked their manly ego. The next morning was when the biggest breakthrough on this world trip happened to me.

I woke up to sunshine falling through a misty forest. And it pierced the clouds in my mind. I remembered the interview with Eckhart Tolle we listened to in the train, about accepting the present moment fully without trying to change it. And all of a sudden I was there. And I loved Mongolia. The shabby village, my wet tent, the grumpy men frowning at us and back aching from huge backpack. All of it.

Next few days were a bliss. We moved to opposite side of lake and spent 3 days in our improvised hippie camp, naked most of the time. We danced around our massive fire (there was so much wood everywhere!), did yoga, smoked the pure tobacco we got from lovely mountain people in Tajikistan (we named it "Laika" after the Russian dog which was sent to space cause that's where it shoot us), and went to town only once to buy more potatoes and veggies. On the way back we helped a woman repair her fence. She was struggling with the big hammer and had no nails so we had to pull the old ones out and straighten them up. The whole thing happened without a word. She kissed our hands in gratitude when we waved good-bye. We were anxious to be back in our Tarzan mode.

The journey back to Ulaanbaatar went even smoother. I think we broke the world record in speed hitch hiking. As soon as we put our backpacks down in gas station where we intended to hassle our way into someone's car (there were very few passing by...), a drunk guy approached us and in broken English explained- I am an engineer and I need to be back in Bulgan tomorrow or my wife will kill me. There were two drunk women in his car. I told him I can handle that.

An hour later, after he got rid of the ladies and finally handed the wheel of his new Toyota Landcruiser V8 limited edition over two me, I was racing across the Mongolian planes towards the dimming daylight in the east. We only stopped when the engineer needed to vomit then went back to sleep on the backseat.

Mongolia gave me a special gift, which stayed ever since in me. Sometimes it just sits in the background, like silently smoking cinders that could be brought back to fire of life anytime I decide that HERE and NOW is a good place to be.

Thank you for reading,

Love and Light on your journey,

Jan

Follow me @jankasparec

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14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
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