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Friday, February 10, 2017
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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
TER closed +15.15% Thursday on the announcement
PERTH, February 9 (miningweekly.com) – The Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) mine, in Mongolia, is poised to supply its first coal after production was restarted in November 2016.
ASX-listed TerraCom said on Thursday that coal was now flowing from the mine and stockpiles were being built up in preparation to supply product to Kingho group, once Chinese borders reopen following the New Year.
TerraCom and Kingho in November 2011 entered into a five-and-a-half-year offtake agreement for hard coking coal produced at BNU.
Coal deliveries to Kingho will start from February 10.
Meanwhile, the BNU on-site coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) feasibility study has been approved by the Mineral Professional Council, with start-up and commissioning of the plant expected to begin by mid-2017.
TerraCom said on Thursday that the Mongolian CHPP strategy provided a pivotal asset in controlling the volume and quality of the coal supplied from BNU into China, and will allow the company to increase the cash operating margin of BNU through a freight cost reduction, as clean coal will only be transported into China.
The CHPP was expected to have a throughput capacity of some 170 t/h to 250 t/y and will have a plant life of around 15 years.
TerraCom begins hard coking coal delivery to Kingho this week – Metal Bulletin, February 9
AKM trading -3.33% Friday midday at A$0.029
February 9 (UB Post) The Mongolia's National Development Agency has approved an 18-month extension to the preparation for the Erdenet to Ovoot railway concession agreement, reports Aspire Mining.
The Mongolian metallurgical coal explorer and infrastructure company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Aspire Mining, announced the extension on January 6. Aspire Mining received an exclusive 30-year concession from the government to build and operate the Erdenet to Ovoot railway through its subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC, in August 2015.
The preparation work that will take place in the 18-month extension include feasibility studies, environmental studies and permits, land use agreements, and commercial agreements, including the EPC Contract and its funding. Northern Railways has until August 2018 to complete all the conditions precedent for the Erdenet to Ovoot railway project.
Existing land use issues regarding the railway has been resolved by the Cabinet, which approved Northern Railways' plan to alter the alignment as it approached Erdenet to avoid a potential overlap with other infrastructure. This opened the way for approval for the extension in accordance with the rail concession agreement. Engineering works performed as part of the plan shows that the alternative alignment does not add to the capital or operating costs of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway, according to the company.
On January 9, Aspire announced that Northern Railways had received the first stage of the feasibility study from China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Co Ltd (a subsidiary of China Rail Construction Corporation) that confirmed that the Erdenet to Ovoot railway is financially feasible and recommended the immediate commencement of its construction.
February 10 -- Rio Tinto will appoint three new independent non-executive directors to the boards of Rio Tinto plc (LSE: Rio:London) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:Rio) (the "board").
Former Sasol Ltd chief executive David Constable and former Centrica plc chief executive Sam Laidlaw will be appointed with immediate effect. Royal Dutch Shell plc chief financial officer Simon Henry will join the board with effect from 1 July 2017.
Non-executive directors Robert Brown and Anne Lauvergeon have indicated their intention to step down from the board at the Rio Tinto Limited annual general meeting on 4 May 2017.
The new directors broaden the experience of the board, bringing considerable expertise in the resources sector and an international perspective, having enjoyed long careers in executive roles with multinational businesses. All three also have significant experience as non-executive directors with leading listed companies.
David Constable has more than 30 years' experience in senior roles at large-scale construction and engineering companies, predominantly with leading international contractor Fluor Corporation. He later spent five years as president and chief executive officer of Sasol Ltd from 2011. He is also a non-executive director of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and ABB Ltd.
With more than three decades in the oil and gas industry, Simon Henry brings a wealth of financial and board expertise to Rio Tinto. Simon joined Royal Dutch Shell in 1982 and has held senior roles across the business in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He was appointed as chief financial officer and as a board member of Royal Dutch Shell in 2009. Simon, who will leave Royal Dutch Shell at the end of June 2017, is also a non-executive director of Lloyds Banking Group plc.
Sam Laidlaw has had a long career in the energy industry in executive roles across the globe. Sam was chief executive officer of Centrica plc for eight years until 2014 and is a non-executive director of HSBC Holdings plc and chairman of Neptune Oil & Gas Ltd.
Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said "I am delighted to welcome David, Simon and Sam to the board of Rio Tinto. Each of them has an outstanding pedigree, having operated in upstream, capital intensive and global industries. With diverse expertise across successful international engineering, resources and financial businesses, I have no doubt that their insight and hands-on experience will strengthen the board.
"I would like to thank Bob and Anne for the considerable contribution they have both made to the board over the years and for their wise counsel. In Bob's case, I also want to acknowledge the additional demands of travelling from Canada to either London or Australia regularly over the past seven years. On behalf of the board, I wish both Bob and Anne well for the future."
Rio Tinto confirms that, with respect to each of the new non-executive directors, there are no matters to be disclosed pursuant to Rule 9.6.13(1) – (6) of the Listing Rules of the UK Listing Authority.
MSE Trading Report, Feb 9: Top 20 -0.18%, ALL -0.09%, Turnover ₮17.9 Million Shares, ₮174.5 Million T-Bills
February 9 (MSE) --
Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.
USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:
IMF mission continues to work in Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) Talks between the Government of Mongolia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission regarding the potential program to be implemented by the IMF in Mongolia are underway in Ulaanbaatar city.
As a result of the discussion with the IMF working mission in November 2016, the Government of Mongolia and the IMF has reached an agreement on certain issues and policy measures. According to the Ministry of Finance, the two sides are planning to report the result of the discussion of this time to the public by the end of next week.
February 9 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT2480.61 for USD27.9 million and asked weighted average rate of MNT359.25 for CNY90.0 million respectively. The BoM sold USD9.0 million with a closing rate of MNT2481.91.
Swap and forward trade: The BoM received buying bid offers of USD2.0 million of MNT swap agreements and selling bid offers of USD20.0 million of USD swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not receive any bid offers.
February 9 (currentbiz) Last year was terrible for Mongolia. Eclipsed by neighbours Japan and China, the central Asian country saw its commodity exports falling and a budget deficit expanding.
Disputes with foreign investors also delayed spending one of its only major exports: mining. This led to a collapse in investments, hitting tax revenues, growth and the currency.
Mongolia had no choice but to cut spending and request support from the IMF. Its official turn-around plan: lure foreign money to pay for stalled infrastructure and mining projects.
However, a copper rebound and the prospect of a rescue package has turned the country's dollar bonds into an investment winner. According to Bloomberg, the notes returned 1.5% in the three months through last week, the most among nine Asian markets.
Copper accounts for around one third of Mongolian exports, and its price is up 20% over the period amid supply risks and signs US President Donald Trump will ramp up infrastructure spending.
In November, copper posted the highest closing price since July 2015 amid a broad rally in commodities on expectations of a pick-up in global manufacturing and infrastructure spending. Speculators poured into the long side of the market on renewed optimism that the world's top two economies can sustain demanded growth and higher oil prices amid Trump's fiscal plans.
Mongolia is struggling with a 1.6% economic contraction over the first nine months of 2016; a budget deficit amount to 19.5% of GDP last year, from 5% in 2015; a 20% plunge in the tugrik against the dollar and a drop in foreign-exchange reserves to a seven-year low in October.
And while the copper rally is good news, are investors being sanguine in their assessment of Mongolia?
While some positivity is something Mongolia needs at the moment, many fail to factor in the likelihood of a default.
Despite the Development Bank of Mongolia facing a US$580 mil (RM2.57 bil) note repayment next month that would wipe out more than half the country's US$1.1 bil in reserves, the possibility of a default is so real that people are even donating their jewellery to the government, hoping that it would get over the line.
Investors' optimism lies their bet that the IMF will finalise a rescue package that allows the payment to be made and gives Mongolia sufficient credibility to sell new bonds to meet other maturities.
However, things could go the way of Mozambique, which is on the verge of default after an expected IMF hangout failed to transpire. Even if multilateral organisations find no problems with Mongolia, political developments can certainly push a nation over the edge.
Ts.Tsolmon, who is an expert in trade and senior teacher at the Business School of the National University of Mongolia spoke about changes and trends in the global trade and their impact on the Mongolian economy in the following interview.
The economist believes that Chinese goods will lose their competitive edge if the USA suddenly increases its tariff on Chinese goods from three percent to 45 percent, allowing countries like Mongolia, India, and Bangladesh to take advantage and increase exports.
Raw material prices have recovered quite a bit. Will this price hike influence Mongolia's export revenue and economy?
Commodity prices are increasing right now despite the economic downturn and poor fiscal and financial situation. For sure, this is a positive change as it boosts money flow coming to Mongolia. However, its impact on the economy will depend on how this money is spent.
It's difficult to say that we'll see considerable change in the economic growth if the revenue from price spike is used to repay the state debt and budget deficit. On the other hand, we can increase the yield by investing in sectors that increase USD reserves within a short period of time. For example, stimulating Alt 2 Program and advancing stagnant railway projects will benefit the economy. Through these improvements, we can build credibility with investors.
Slow development of the transportation sector is pulling back Mongolia's competitiveness in all fields. What needs to be done to stimulate infrastructure projects?
Long-term policy is crucial. The cost of infrastructure and industrial projects have become very high. In addition, Mongolia is a land-locked country with poor infrastructure. Even if we try to improve infrastructure, it costs significantly. It requires a lot of investment. Moreover, the return on investment is relatively low. This is the main reason why investors aren't very keen on investing in infrastructure projects. To resolve this problem, we need to have a system with good structure and organization that allows investors to benefit from projects.
Besides improving infrastructure, Mongolia is an urgent need to improve its trading competitiveness. What do you recommend for boosting competitiveness?
There are tons of things to do. The World Bank releases Ease of Doing Business Index every year. The ranking of countries is usually based on 11 to 12 criteria. One of the measures is cross-border trading, which includes the fee you have to pay depending on the size of cargo, time it takes to transport the cargo, and documents you need to provide. Mongolia ranked in around 80th place out of over 180 countries for cross-border trading. It costs 3,000 USD on average to transport a container weighing 20 tons to Mongolia from anywhere on Earth. But, it costs less than 800 USD to transport the same container to countries that have access to the sea or ocean. Hence, Mongolia must make changes and improvements to reduce trading costs.
Mongolia's export volume increased by 5.3 percent last year. Apart from mining raw materials, what brought about this increase?
Export volume of products that boost Mongolia's competitiveness or have unique qualities didn't increase. In fact, export volume of Mongolian woven textile and leather industries declined, as well as trade of other industrial goods. This means that export of value-added sectors decreased.
We saw some increase in exports of products which are domestically produced with foreign raw materials. In particular, cross-border trade of products and goods that are assembled in Mongolia using Chinese parts, such as vehicles and aircraft increased. However, value-added revenue of these products has already gone to China. Mongolia only assembles and exports them because it costs much higher to make them into final products and export them from China.
Export volume of mining raw materials escalated last year. The only shortcoming was that prices for commodity goods, except gold, were relatively lower than they were in 2015.
It's still unclear whether prices will spike or drop this year. Countries started paying more attention to yellow metal sectors as the gold rate is quite high. Mongolia is also taking the same approach and increasing gold mining to boost gold reserve. According to the rule of the market, increase in supply causes prices to drop.
The new president of the USA, Donald Trump, proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. If this plan is executed, it's highly possible that the trade circulation between China and the USA will slow down and give rise to significant changes in global trade. How would this affect Mongolia if high tariffs are placed on Chinese exports to the USA?
President Donald Trump made an alarming statement on trade changes during the election. Many view this as just another election rhetoric, yet it's about to come into action now. This could flip the world trade turnover.
Trump announced to renegotiate or terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as he called it the "worst trade deal in history," and blames it for the loss of manufacturing jobs in America's Rust Belt. This statement cannot be denied, though.
Large US companies opened factories in developing countries for better economic yield and low manufacturing costs. This has its pros and cons. From one side, this liberated USA's skilled personnel and resources, as explained by economists. For example, the young Americans assembling IBM personal computers have so much more potential. They have the skills to create new software and make innovations.
Some experts say that this personnel should be making 20 USD per hour instead of one USD per hour. Mexicans can take on this job. This way, Americans can do medium or high-level jobs while immigrants and foreign workers do the rest of the work – in other words, manual work. In this sense, NAFTA was established. It also proved effective as the price of goods in the US market plunged. Low-cost manufacturing allows lower prices. In a way, the agreement was beneficial. However, it reduced wages, lowering people's real income. There have been disagreements about whether NAFTA served its purpose and brought the USA the amount of profit it was designed to.
When asked about this, most experts say no, but there is a group of people who say yes. US companies were able to move offshore as a result of free trade and open economy. On the other side, sales of small and medium-sized enterprises plunged. The USA faces two options now: to support large companies or sustain SMEs. In Trump's case, he chose to support SMEs through policy.
If Trump forward with this policy, it will directly influence the world trade flow. Chinese goods will lose their competitiveness if US tariff on Chinese imports is heightened because China competes largely through its prices. Shrinking China's trade will open opportunities for other countries like Mongolia, India, and Bangladesh. Even so, there's no denying that China will continue to have its advantage.
China's state revenue will fall as its export volume decreases if the US increases import tariff on Chinese products. How would this affect Mongolia's trade with China?
China buys raw material from Mongolia and uses it to produce final products. Then, their products are sold to countries like the USA. Hence, Mongolia will be affected if China's export volume decreases. There's a possibility that due to declined sales, China would lower their import from Mongolia or pressure Mongolia to lower product prices.
If Trump runs forward his proposed trade policy, it will negatively impact free trade. However, it's clear that President Trump didn't come up with his plans to organize free trade in just a day. This kind of approach is being observed throughout the world. One product can be manufactured with parts from many factories and countries. Cars, for instance, are cross-country productions. This system is called global value chain.
Volkswagen is a German automaker, but German engineers don't produce their bolts or screws. They import parts and only assemble them together in Germany. However, this mechanism is starting to become inefficient because production costs are rising everywhere. Nowadays, there's a slim chance that production cost can be lowered by collecting cheap parts manufactured all around the world to produce a final product. Therefore, I've observed that industries are becoming more centralized. I think that Trump has grasped this as well. It is costly for US companies to produce a product overseas and import it back. Jobs are decreasing there as well. Trump is demanding factories to move back to America as a solution to these issues. This way, transportation costs will drop, and ultimately, reduce product prices. Another advantage of this plan is that jobs will increase in the USA as well.
February 9 (UB Post) Fuel companies Shunkhlai Trading, Magnai Trade, Petrostar, and NIC were "ordered" by the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP) to lower their fuel prices by February 7 after they had increased prices by 80 MNT to 150 MNT per liter.
The investigation is being headed by the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia (MRAM) and the AFCCP. A working group tasked with researching reasons behind the price hike was been established by the agencies earlier this week. Fuel importers Petrovis and Shunkhlai have raised their prices by 100 MNT to 150 MNT per liter in rural areas, and by 80 MNT to 100 MNT in Ulaanbaatar.
The Cabinet took measures to stabilize the price of fuel in the face of depreciating MNT and the rise in price of petroleum. On January 25, the Cabinet made the decision to lower the import tax on petroleum products to keep the prices stable. Authorities highlighted at the time that the decision would prevent sudden price increases. The rate for a ton of fuel was 520,000 MNT in February 2016, and became 70,000 MNT in February 2017.
The AFCCP criticized the four fuel companies for raising their prices without consultation and at a time when they have tax breaks on fuel imports. Theagency stated that the price hikes could potentially be illegal and in conflict with the relevant concerning laws.
The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry has explained that the increase in fuel price in the international market had an effect on domestic prices. The price of fuel imports increased by 41 USD to 60 USD in January 2017, compared to December 2016.
In 2016, Mongolia imported 1.2 million tons of petroleum, with Russian imports accounting for 94 percent of total imports. Rosneft, a Russian state owned petroleum company, supplies the largest share of petroleum to Mongolia, 800,000 tons. Therefore, any changes in the market prices of Russian petroleum directly impacts prices in Mongolia, according to experts.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which Russia is a member of, agreed to cut production rates to increase market prices. OPEC countries agreed to lower production by 1.2 million barrels in the first six months of 2017 and non-OPEC countries agreed to decrease production by 558,000 barrels.
The Ministry of Mining of Mongolia has cited the deliberate decrease in production as the reason for fuel price increases in the international market. The price of Brent Crude oil jumped from 46.38 USD per barrel in December 2016 to 56.92 USD per barrel in February 2017.
New law on consultative polling to empower citizens
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) A new law on Consultative poll was approved by Parliament today. The law targets at holding consultative poll on pressing issues in society and on making government decisions to solve the problems.
A consultative poll will be carried out to expose pressing issues with the help of citizens, to consult with them on ways to solve the issue, increase public awareness on the issue and involve citizens in decision making.
A Consultative council will be established with a composition of 5-11 persons and will organize polls. Political officials, civil servants or ruling and executive officials of political parties will not be appointed to the council. Consultative poll should be conducted regarding one certain subject in two stages and questions of the poll should be clear, definite and non-equivocal.
Funding of poll could be covered by state or local budget, international financial aid and donations from individuals and enterprises. In case of financing with donations, amount of donations from individuals and enterprises should not exceed 40 per cent of the total fund.
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) A regular session of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy' took place in a closed manner on February 8.
During the session, Credit agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of the Republic of Poland was discussed by the standing committee.
According to the agreement, Mongolia is to receive EUR 50 million loans from Poland with 0.15 percent of annual interest rate. Also, late payment will result in additional 1.5 percent of penalty interest.
The loan is presently planned to be used in agricultural, education and infrastructure sectors of Mongolia.
Members of the Parliament D.Tsogtbaatar and S.Batbold said "The loan capital should be invested in one single beneficial project as it would be more efficient".
The agreement is expected to be discussed at the parliament's plenary session.
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) Today, Parliament approved a revised law on Police service in its plenary session. Currently effective law on Police service stated that legal status and some relations related to police activities would be regulated with separate law.
However, the separate law has not been approved until now and many relations including legal status of policemen, their social guarantee, internal labor relations have been regulated with general rulings of the law on State civil service. And relations on using power, firearms and special tools have been ruled with just regulations. Therefore, the law has been revised to provide missing regulations, improve and amend necessary provisions.
New law states that Government will determine the structure of Police. Every appointed new Minister in charge of police tends to change police structure, therefore working group considered it proper to transfer the right to the Government and majority of MPs supported the proposal. The right to appoint the head of Police Department is kept to the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs.
ULANNBAATAR, 9 FEBRUARY, 2017 (World Bank) – A World Bank and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project recently brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss solutions for the most pressing issues in health and education, including increased outbreaks of communicable diseases and limited access to education services, facing people living in three Ulaanbaatar districts.
At the January 31 workshop, community and civil-society representatives from the Bayanzurkh, Chingeltei, Songinokhairkhan districts identified priorities based on local needs, along with officials from central and local governments, development partners and public-service providers.
The two-way collaboration between citizens groups and the government was supported by the joint WB–SDC project, Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia. The project supports government efforts to increase transparency and accountability, and give communities a greater say on policies affecting them.
"With today's workshop we have moved on to the next level of CSO-government engagement," said G. Undral, Director of Democracy Education Center NGO. "While we used to monitor specific government actions and share our evaluation through a report or a press conference, that did not necessarily result in policy changes we wanted. In contrast, CSOs and communities learned the skills and techniques to constructively engage with the government and service providers, and seek solutions to the problems together."
Since the project's launch in November 2015, more than 700 people representing civil society and community groups have been trained on how to address challenges through social accountability tools. The project also helps the central and local governments, as well as sector ministries to institutionalize social accountability measures so that achievements are sustained even after the project is closed.
"The law on development policy planning, approved by the Parliament in 2015, provides a legal framework enabling CSO participation in formulating policies and evaluating their implementation. Through today's workshop, we see this law entering into life and contributing to better social services for people through their active participation," said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia.
The project is being implemented in 10 aimags and three districts of Ulaanbaatar with relatively high poverty rates. Results and best practices from these aimags and districts are envisioned to be replicated nationwide.
A website on social accountability, www.irgen-tur.mn, or "citizen-state" in Mongolian language, developed in close coordination with CSOs and the multi-stakeholder groups, provides information on project and practical resources on social accountability.
February 9 (UB Post) People who own land in Ulaanbaatar can extend their license by up to 15 years from now on, under a new capital city directive.
Originally, land owners were allowed to extend licenses by five years at most. During a press conference about the extension, city officials announced that the change ensures the long-term stability of companies operating on the land and keeps them free from state bureaucracy and control.
"This decision is aimed to provide prompt state services without bureaucracy to the public. Land is a valuable capital used to attract investment. While the economy is facing difficulties, we must support companies and individuals constructing apartments, factories and offices. I'm confident that this was an accurate decision for eliminating bureaucracy and corruption among land management department," Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold stated.
He added that online land ownership issuance will be resumed after resolving some issues, and that authorities will establish a land exchange system for land ownersLicense holders can renew their license and have it extended by 15 years through an application, which doesn't require any additional or special condition.
Mongolian Business Database MBD (www.mongolianbusinessdatabase.com) is starting to register the business participants to Mongolian-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry's "The 6th Mongolia London Business Forum" in April 05, 2017 and business program which includes the opening of London Stock Exchange by Mr.Ts. Munkh Orgil, Foreign Minister of Mongolia, Sixth Mongolia London Business Forum at Bloomberg and the annual UK Parliamentary Tea with the All Party Mongolian Parliamentary Group
The MBCC (http://mongolianbritishcc.org.uk) is a not-for-profit membership organisation established in 2009 to foster strong business links between Mongolia and the UK. Chaired by Mr John Grogan former British Parliament member, it aims to provide a professional and social environment for business people who wish to be introduced to, and become part of, the British-Mongolian business culture and community.
Please visit to following link for information in details and contact at email@example.com e mail, 77109911, 99066062 for the registration and inquiry.
The registration will close in March 03 Friday, 2017
(P:S. English Premier League's Chelsea vs Manchester city game will be on April 06 in London during this mission)
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ With an aim to provide healthy and safe food products to the public and to ensure the regular distribution of raw materials to manufacturers, the Government of Mongolia has launched the first "Meat and Milk" campaign throughout the country on January 1.
"MDM" LLC is supporting the campaign, which is continuing under "Healthy food-Healthy Mongolian" slogan. On February 9, the company organized workshop-discussion to introduce its product – small-sized dry milk production equipment to manufacturers, farmers, and partners, representatives of professional associations and experts of academic research organizations.
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat attended the opening of the event to get acquainted with the production equipment. The Japanese-made production equipment is capable of drying 240-600 liters of milk in a 8-hour work day depending on the milk supply from local entities.
"Although Mongolia has over 60 million of livestock animals, dried milk is imported from overseas. By installing the production equipment in rural areas, the number of customers of the product will increase. Further, the market price of dried milk will be stabilized and herders will have regular income. After fully supplying the domestic demand, dried milk products should be exported to abroad. We all should aim to manufacture what Mongolians are always capable to do" said PM J.Erdenebat.
By introducing the equipment into use between 2017 and 2025, it is estimated number of 6-8 thousand vacancies will be available.
Apart from supply for domestic demands, Mongolia is capable of producing 400 million liters milk per year. However, due to lack of proper infrastructure to process raw materials, outdated production equipment and low circulation assets, the dairy industries are only utilizing some 10 percent of their total capacity. Mongolia imports around 400 tons of dried milks from abroad every year, which turns into 35 thousand tons of liquid milk.
February 9 (Vincere) Sometimes you have to leave your home country to grow. For Amarsanaa Tsembel, a born and bred Mongolian who left his native shores in 2007 to work as a recruiter in Japan, leaving home and then returning was one of the most challenging and rewarding decisions he's ever made.
Having lived abroad and worked with top global recruitment companies, Amar brings with him bags of international exposure and recruitment expertise back to Mongolia. Speaking to us about his recruitment firm, Specialised Career Consulting, Amar shares the success of SCC and some of the lessons he has learnt along the way.
VC: Tell us about yourself and how/why you started SCC.
Amar: Previously, I was a recruiter in Tokyo specialising in Finance and IT. 6 years ago, I moved back to Mongolia just as the economy was picking up and started Specialized Career Consulting. I'd seen and learnt enough about how to build a recruitment firm and saw the opportunity to translate all of this experience into my own business. Of course, adapting from working into Japan back to Mongolia was a shift- but, ultimately, recruitment is recruitment, people are people and striving to offer a world-class service is the same wherever you are.
VC: What's the recruitment industry like in Mongolia?
Amar: Mongolia is a vast country with a rich heritage. We are fortunate to be endowed with natural resources and a smart, hardworking population.The economy has been rapidly expanding here over the last few years and the main factor contributing to the rapid growth it's thriving mining industry. Servicing this growing sector is at the heart of SCC. Today, a key focus for our company focuses on HR outsourcing services for huge mining companies like OT. We partner with companies on large scale recruitment projects and we see this as a huge opportunity for our business. For example we recently partnered with a global IT firm to build a team of 200 staff here in Mongolia, a contract that we managed end-to-end for our client with fantastic results. We are seeing more and more projects like this, as global firms realise that Mongolia is a sleeping giant in terms of professional services: people here generally speak decent english and have an incredible work ethic.
Although business for us is booming, it's worth noting that the recruitment industry in Mongolia is still very much at its infancy. There are still not a great deal of international recruitment firms here. I guess that is for good reason-establishing operations and getting up and running is still challenging, especially for a non-native.
VC: What makes SCC different?
Amar: In a word: integrity. We've seen a number of agencies use unscrupulous methods to win deals and place candidates, perhaps taking advantage of the fact that the industry and legal framework here is still developing- but that's not our style. Companies may be different from country to country but, ultimately, they all share certain things in common: they want to work with recruiters they can trust, who are reliable and who really understand what their business is about. That's why our clients are loyal and come back to us again and again- we deliver results consistently.
VC: We notice that SCC hold the IS9000 certification. This is quite a demanding process- why did you decide to get this accreditation?
Amar: Simple- having this globally recognized accreditation is a benchmark of quality and assures our international bluechip clients of the quality of our service. Rather than just say we are good at what we do, we have a formally recognized certification to back us up. The whole process of going through the IS900 certification is not easy and it took time- but it was the right thing for the business and, we believe, is a key differentiator between us and our competitors here in the Mongolian recruitment market.
VC: What's the vision for SCC?
Amar: Our vision is simple: to become the go-to recruitment firm for companies hiring in Mongolia. Our reality- the way we'll achieve this vision- is to operate with utter integrity and give the best we can to both clients and candidates every day.
VC: How important is it to have the right CRM to grow your business?
Amar: Technology is crucial for our business. I find it crazy that some companies want to develop their own in-house system. There's a stark difference between a self-built system and a system that is developed professional by software vendors – the top reasons? No headaches. No time wasted. Why spend 2-5 years spending extra resources on developing the in-house solution when you can get going straight away with a system that is already built to do what you need?
VC: How is your experience of Vincere so far?
Amar: This is the only CRM that I've used which really works the way recruiters do. It's so easy to use, intelligent and analytical. It focuses on what needs to get done, no mess, no time wasted. If I had to a put a number to it- I'd say Vincere has helped us save up to 40% of our time and is 30% more efficient than other recruitment systems I have tried. This is groundbreaking stuff for the recruitment community.
VC: What can we expect from SCC in the future?
Amar: I have 6 full-time recruiters in my team now- all bilingual Mongolians. Depending on the political climate, we're planning to expand into Myanmar with plans to go international within the next 5 years. If we keep experiencing the same growth we've seen so far in 2016 then the future's looking bright- bring it on.
February 9 (gogo.mn) We deliver you photo report from Bayankhoshuu, the most polluted areas of Ulaanbaatar city where levels of PM2.5 particulates ranges 1000-2000 micrograms per cubic meter in winter. In other words, hazardous levels of air pollution hits Bayankhoshuu everyday throughout the winter.
Songinokhairkhan district is home to about 300 thousand people, of which 62 thousand of them are living in this disaster area.
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) On February 8, the first meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Ulaanbaatar city took place. The Chamber of Commerce of Ulaanbaatar city has been established recently with a view to improve public and private partnership to promote social development and maintain common interests of business entities.
The participants of the meeting discussed issues on reducing air pollution in the capital. At the meeting, S.Batbold, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar and Governor of the Capital city gave information on recent measures and policy taken regarding air pollution.
He said "Around 80 percent of air pollution in Ulaanbaatar city comes from Ger district area, namely, the coal-burning stoves of families living in the area. The air pollution is hugely related to living standards and poverty of the population. Economic growth is a solution to to the complete elimination of the risk of air pollution".
He further continued "As a Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city, I have issued three ordinances, such as identifying the settlement areas and zones of air quality, and limiting movement from rural areas to the capital. Moreover, raw coal would not be distributed to families who receive benefits from the government, instead only processed fuel will be provided for them. In this regard, the participation of business entities is important to putting the measures into good use".
Mayor S.Batbold also noted that the city is working to create more jobs in soums of Tuv aimag in close proximity to the capital by establishing manufactures and enterprises with an eventual aim to reduce air pollution. Members of the Chamber of Commerce of Ulaanbaatar city agreed on the necessity to utilize buses that run on liquefied petroleum gas and promoting the use of energy-efficient heating to families in the Ger districts in Ulaanbaatar city.
Moreover, they highlighted the importance of job creation outside of the capital city in order to minimize the growth of Ger districts.
February 9 (gogo.mn) During the preparations for the Lunar New Year, jams have become the usual thing as the traffic from and to countryside increases. This movement especially hits hard UB streets with already jammed roads increasing the load by 2-3 times.
Thus, license plate limitation by even and odd numbers will be in effect on weekends starting Feb 11-12 and Feb 18-19 and following vehicle regulation is to be done;
- Vehicles with license plate numbers ending with 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 are allowed to drive on Saturdays of February 11st and February 18th from 10AM to 8PM.
- Vehicles with license plate numbers ending with 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 are allowed to drive on Sundays of February 12nd and February 19th from 10AM to 8PM.
Moreover the change in restrictions will apply to the current restriction zones in the UB city, for instance, main road from Sapporo junction all the way to the 5 Shar junction is to be included in the winter restriction zone.
This year, the First day of Tsagaan Sar occurs on February 27th and license plate limitation will not apply from the First day of Tsagaan Sar to Third Day of Tsagaan Sar (Feb 27 to Mar 1).
February 9 (UB Post) The Ulaanbaatar Winter Festival 2017, which features various family events and activities, will be organized this weekend, on February 11 and 12, at the National Garden Park.
The organizing committee, headed by Deputy Mayor Sh.Ankhmaa, decided to hold a national costume contest, family relay races, snow art competition, amateur archery contest, ice ankle-bone shooting competition, amateur ski and snowboarding races, chess tournament, and ice wall climbing competition during the festival.
Warm drinks and food will be available at the Ulaanbaatar Winter Festival 2017. The festival will feature motorcycle performances, along with winter cycling and dog sledding tours.
The Ulaanbaatar Ensemble is also preparing to perform during the weekends at the National Garden Park.
February 10 (GoGo Mongolia) --
- CONCERT -
Event: Inspiring unplugged concert by Nisvanis, Bulsara, the Lemons, A sound, Fire
Time: Feb 10 at 7 pm
Venue: UB Palace
Tax: 25,000 MNT, VIP 45,000 MNT. Tickets are available at www.ticket.mn, ticket office of UB palace
Inquiry: 99197738, 88118560 or click HERE
Event: Opera "Carmen" by G.Bizet
Time: Feb 11 at 5 pm
Venue: Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet
Tax: MNT 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000. Tickets are available at www.ticket.mn and ticket office of Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet
Event: Tango ballet "Endless" by Kh.Altangerel
Time: Feb 12 at 5 pm
Venue: Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet
Tax: MNT 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000. Tickets are available at www.ticket.mn and ticket office of Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet
- PARTY -
Event: Oldie but Goldie
Time: Feb 10 at 10 pm
Venue: Arigu Lounge Art
Tax: 10,000 MNT
Inquiry: click HERE
Event: Saturday House Night
Time: Feb 11 at 10 pm
Venue: ZU club
Inquiry: click HERE
Event: Salsa Saturday - Romantic Night
Time: Feb 11 at 8 pm
Venue: Mexkhan Guantanamera Restaurant
Tax: 5000 MNT
Inquiry: click HERE
Description: UB Salsa nights create a welcoming environment to all new Social dancers and great music for the more experienced dancers. Absolute beginners are always welcome to a beginners dance class.
- MOVIE -
Title: THE LOBSTER (2015)
Time: Feb 11 at 4 pm
Venue: iCinema, 5th floor of State Department Store
Tax: MNT 5,000
Inquiry: click HERE
Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
Title: John Wick 2
Venue: Urgoo 1, 2, 3 cinema,
Inquiry: 77117711 - Urgoo cinema
Synopsis: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
Title: Fifty Shades Darker
Venue: Urgoo 1, 2, 3 cinema, Tengis cinema, Gegeenten cinema, Hunnu cinema
Inquiry: 77117711 - Urgoo cinema, 313105 - Tengis cinema, 7577 6699 - Gegeenten cinema, 7721 2222 - Hunnu cinema
Synopsis: While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.
Venue: Urgoo 1, 2, 3 cinema, Tengis cinema
Inquiry: 77117711 - Urgoo cinema, 313105 - Tengis cinema
Synopsis: Julia becomes worried about her boyfriend, Holt, when he explores the dark urban legend of a mysterious video said to kill the watcher seven days after viewing. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a "movie within the movie" that no one has ever seen before.
Title: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
Venue: Urgoo 3 cinema, Tengis cinema
Inquiry: 77117711 - Urgoo cinema, 313105 - Tengis cinema
Synopsis: Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity's final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began - The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.
Venue: Gegeenten Cinema, Hunnu cinema, Tengis cinema
Inquiry: 313105 - Tengis cinema, 577 6699 - Gegeenten cinema, 7721 2222 - Hunnu cinema
Synopsis: Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Buster Moon a dapper koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal-some might even say delusional-optimist who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now faced with the crumbling of his life's ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world's greatest singing competition.
- OTHERS –
Event: Board games and card games night
Time: Feb 10 at 6:30 pm
Venue: Story Hub Mongolia
Inquiry: click HERE
Description: Compete to build the most settlements and longest road in Catan, Eliminate your friends' troops and conquer the world in Risk, Block, twist and turn to dominate the board in Blokus, Solve mysteries and crimes as Sherlock Holmes in 221B Baker Street, Start a hotel chain and merge with others to form the largest hotel empire in Acquire, Work together against time to save the world from virus outbreak in Pandemic or Sabotage miners and construct tunnels to harvest gold in Saboteurs!
Event: Romantic Dinner in Dark
Time: Feb 10 at 7 pm
Venue: Ziferblat Ulaanbaatar
Tax: 70,000 MNT for couples. Includes dinner dessert, live music and many surpeises
Inquiry: click HERE
Description: Reservation for the first 6 couples is available at 98110984.
Title: 3 Minutes Burger Challenge
Time: Feb 10 at 7:30 pm
Venue: Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar
Inquiry: 70142424, 99008747 or click HERE
Description: Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel is hosting an event for those who love Burger and inviting you all to Burger Challenge which is organized by our InnJoy Restaurant every Friday at 20:00pm. Please reserve your seat to below number for reservation as we have limited number of attendees. Burger and French fries has to be finished within 3 minutes. Price: 25,000MNT / if you finish your Burger and French fries within 3 minutes, the charge is on US!
Event: English Speaking Club for Adults
Time: Feb 11 at 1 pm
Venue: Story Hub Mongolia
Tax: Free. In order to keep this club going for free, we would require every participant to purchase drinks or food from.
Inquiry: click HERE
Event: Ulaanbaatar Winter Festival 2017
Time: Feb 11, 12 at 12 pm
Venue: National Amusement Park (Ulaanbaatar National Park)
Inquiry: click HERE
Description: Hot food, hot beverages, motorcycle show and art concert of Ulaanbaatar ensemble will be available for spectators and participants during the festival. Moreover winter bikes and dog sledges will be available for rent.
Event: English Speaking Space with Elmond
Time: Feb 12 at 3 pm
Venue: Ziferblat Ulaanbaatar
Inquiry: 98110984 or click HERE
Tax: Entrance fee is free. You are paying only for time in Ziferblat -1min 100 MNT inside unlimited coffee tea and snack included Description: Elmond was born and raised in the Philippines. He is a teacher, public speaking trainer, leadership coach, and radio, TV host. His passion is directed at raising awareness toward the needs of the young generation.
Event: Hiking to the Gorhi- Terelj area, which locates eastern of UB. Hiking trail is about 12 km.
Time: Feb 12 at 9 at
Venue: Meet at 9:00 am at behind the Central Post Office.
Tax: Free. The daily average temperature: -6 degrees Celsus. Please prepare warm clothes and lunch.
Inquiry: click HERE
February 9 (UB Post) China has the capacity to lift Mongolia out of its current crisis and improve its economy under the condition that Mongolia intensifies its involvement in the One Belt One Road Initiative, says the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times.
The Global Times is largely thought of as the informal voice of the Chinese government internationally. The newspaper is widely known to release controversial and critical articles that are believed to voice the positions of the Chinese Communist Party through an alternative channel.
The newspaper has been critical of Mongolia in the past, especially surrounding the recent Dalai Lama visit. This time, however, the newspaper proposed that enhancing economic cooperation with China could help Mongolia with its "financial impasse and reverse its slow growth."
The article reminded readers about the 580 million USD bond debt due in March and mentioned about the charity fund established for citizens to donate money to help revive the economy. The bond in question was issued by the Development Bank of Mongolia in March 2012, with a tenor of five years and a coupon of 5.75 percent. The bond will mature on March 21.
The government is currently negotiating a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and China amid a severe economic crisis in the country, which has dragged down GDP from double-digit growth a few years ago to close to zero.
The Global Times underlined, "Experts said China, Mongolia's largest trading partner, can play a positive role in helping the crisis-stricken country.
"As of the end of September 2016, Mongolia's overall debt stood at 23.78 billion USD, up 10 percent from a year earlier and exceeding 210 percent of its GDP, according to a statement posted on January 25 on the website of the economic and commercial counselor's office of the Chinese Embassy in Mongolia. The statement cited data from Mongolia's statistical authority and the central bank in the country."
The article highlighted that a slump in commodity prices, coupled with natural disasters in 2016, caused Mongolia's GDP growth in 2016 to drop to 1.6 percent.
Sun Huijun, an expert on relationships among China, Russia and Central Asian countries, told the Global Times on Sunday that as China's neighbor is experiencing hardships, China can prove to be "a friend in need."
"China can help Mongolia secure low-interest loans from multilateral institutions, or arrange loans after inter-governmental negotiations," Sun said.
Li Xing, director of the Eurasian Studies Center with the Beijing Normal University, said that China has the capacity to lift Mongolia out of the current crisis and improve its economy, but there is a condition.
"Under China's proposed One Belt and One Road initiative, there is an economic corridor starting from China, running through Mongolia and onward to Russia. This is a plan drawn up by the Chinese government, and much can be done under the framework," Li said.
The One Belt and One Road initiative has been at the forefront of Chinese foreign policy as the project which was proposed by President Xi Jinping.
The initiative has many plans involving infrastructure and connectivity, and it can bring lots of money to Mongolia, Li told the Global Times on Sunday.
Sun said prosperous neighbors and partners also suit China's ambitions to push its One Belt and One Road initiative, against the backdrop of likely uncertainties in world trade brought up by the Trump administration.
"Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are especially important to the northern route of the Silk Road initiative," noted Sun.
Li said that 580 million USD liquidity is within easy reach for China, "but China has its principles that are non-negotiable." Li noted that the visit by the Dalai Lama to Mongolia last year hurt bilateral relations.
Analysts have noted that this might be the Chinese government's way of expressing its openness to helping the Mongolian economy revive, more specifically helping pay off its bond obligations.
Deputy health minister visits India
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) A delegation led by L.Byambasuren, Deputy Minister of Health paid a working visit to India on February 3-7. The delegates attended an opening ceremony of medical technology exhibition co-organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.
The exhibition displayed products of over 100 Indian technical and medical companies. During their visit, Deputy Minister, L.Byambasuren conducted an official meeting with Shri C.K. Mishra, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India and exchanged views on bilateral cooperation in the health sector.
After congratulating to the Government of India for holding such a large exhibition of medical technology for the first time, Deputy Minister L.Byambasuren mentioned that an agreement of cooperation in the health sector between the Mongolian Ministry of Health and Indian Ministry of Health was established in 2009 and also, a memorandum of mutual understanding on cooperation in the development of traditional medicine and homeopathy was signed in 2015.
In turn, State Secretary Shri C.K. Mishra expressed his consent with her opinion and pledged to cooperate in the medical sector and to co-organize a joint working group's meeting in New Delhi.
Ulaanbaatar. January 8, 2017 (EmbaCuba Mongolia) The Hon. Mr. Luvandorj Magnaidorj, Deputy Commissioner of the National Police Agency received in the afternoon yesterday the Ambassador of Cuba, Raúl Delgado Concepción as part of the courtesy interviews with the authorities of Mongolia as part of the presentation of his credentials. The meeting highlighted the good relations between the two countries and Deputy Commissioner Mr. Magnajdorj congratulated the Cuban Ambassador for his appointment to the diplomatic mission and the beginning of his work in Mongolia.
The Cuban Ambassador thanked the reception given by the authorities of Mongolia and delivered a module of the uniform of the National Revolutionary Police of Cuba to conform the samples of the uniforms that make up the collection in the Museum National Police of Mongolia.
In the meeting was also present the Hon. Mr. Khorolsuren Uuganbayar, Head of the Security and Diplomatic Organization Division.
Across Mongolia there is a unique unsurpassed geographical and human diversity, with lakes, desert, and forest populated by over 15 distinct ethnic groups. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's rapidly expanding capital is home to thousands of underprivileged families, who suffer from poverty, neglect and poor health. Help us bring hope to this community by improving the availability of general healthcare to hard to reach rural communities. You will find the work deeply rewarding as you build up a relationship with the local population and make a tangible difference. Immerse yourself in the distinctive culture whilst simultaneously making a much-needed, positive impact on the lives of the underprivileged families.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Mongolia has a growing poverty situation and the effects of population movement have led to increased demand on the health sector to cater for emerging disease in children, mothers and the elderly. The net result is that people's lifestyles have changed drastically over the last ...
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO held an annual meeting on February 8 and approved performance report of 2016 and an action plan for 2017.
After underlining that the action plan for 2016 was implemented in the preceding year, Ts.Munkh-Orgil, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Head of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO gave instructions regarding the action plan in 2017.
At the meeting, the members of the National Commission exchanged views on measures to strengthen cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture, register Mongolian cultural heritages to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and protect them.
February 9 (Brisbane Times) Furthermore, when the time comes to trade the comforts of the apartment for the rigours of Hustai National Park and accommodation in a felt-covered tent known as a ger, Emma will be equally content there.
An ecologist and conservation support officer for the Steppe Forward Program, Emma has spent the past nine months working to preserve and protect the wildlife of Mongolia. She is also monitoring the impact of climate change and human influence.
Mongolia has the lowest population density on the planet, however the human footprint is both growing and visible in factors such as a burgeoning mining industry, deforestation and poaching.
For Emma, such challenges are part of a career challenge she is embracing in a truly enigmatic part of the world.
Not that relocating to Mongolia was quite the culture shock that some might have predicted.
Before joining Steppe Forward, Emma founded the Red Panda Trust, a non-profit charity based in Nepal and which continues to connect research to conservation for the red panda.
Emma led three research teams to Nepal and fell in love with the country, the people and this beautiful but endangered creature.
"I had always wanted to see red pandas in the wild, so the opportunity to work on projects concerning the red panda and other endangered Asian mammals has been so rewarding," says Emma.
"These species have a key role in preserving the world's biodiversity, so I feel as if my life and work have real meaning."
After completing her Bachelor degree majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology, in 2016 Emma undertook an Honours project assessing invertebrate communities in the French Pyrenees.
She received support from the Griffith Futures Scholarship program, which helps students who are excelling in their studies despite personal or financial hardship.
"I was effectively raised by my grandfather, Michael Dale. He lectured in the School of Environment at Griffith and was a big reason why I became an ecologist," says Emma.
"When he passed away, I was 18 and alone. It was a rough personal time, but the support from the University was amazing."
Emma's contract with Steppe Forward ends in May but she hopes to extend her time in Mongolia.
"It really is an incredible country and the natural environment is so inspiring," she says.
"For the moment, as a scientist and as a person, I feel as if I am in the place I am meant to be."
Saturday, February 11, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
By Kristene de Leon
February 9 (UB Post) How far can a skateboard take you? Skateboarder Erdenedalai "Eddie" Purev's entire career has revolved around this question, taking him on countless adventures from traveling around Mongolia and living in the United States.
Erdenedalai Purev, known as "Eddie," is a professional skateboarder and the co-founder of the Uukhai Skateboarding Association. At 13 years old, Eddie moved to the United States to live with his mother and would travel between Ulaanbaatar and New York City throughout his young adult years. When he started skateboarding in New York, he would bring his skills to Ulaanbaatar without giving much thought and would just skate for fun.
"Back then, I never really paid attention to the development [of skating in Ulaanbaatar]. Me and my three friends — Seke, Odko, and Kusha — were the only ones skating full time. We thought we were the only cool kids in town for sure," says Eddie, who started skateboarding in Mongolia during his visit back in 2008. It was back then in 2008 when he also met Seke, Odko, and Kusha.
At the end of 2012, Eddie returned to Mongolia for six months to work as the executive chef at the Ivy Restaurant. During this time, Eddie started the Uukhai Skateboarding Association, one of Mongolia's first skateboarding associations, with his three friends. "Uukhai" refers to the war cry of Mongol warriors as they charged into battle, defying odds – and rival kingdoms – eight centuries ago. The incantation powered them to carve out the largest land empire in human history – spanning from the sea of Japan to Eastern Europe.
"I had a lot of free time skating [while I was working as a chef]. A lot of kids would ask me about how I skated, whether I had magnets on my feet," says Eddie, looking back to his inspiration for starting the Uukhai Crew. "I had this image where pro-skaters in America really make it, where they can make a living. So I thought: What if I build a marketplace in Mongolia where people could start skating?"
Eddie became known as the crew's fearless leader — in a nation that has become distrusting of its leadership. From his American base in New York, he works with NGOs and the skateboarding company, Carhartt, to help raise awareness and funds for the skaters back home in Mongolia, sending them donated boards and working to build a proper skate park in Ulaanbaatar.
In August 2014, the first extreme sports competition, X Games Mongolia, took place at Ulaanbaatar's National Amusement Park, featuring skateboarders, BMX bikers, and rollerbladers, from Mongolia, France, Germany, the UK, and Japan. According to Eddie, the event was made possible with the support of the Minister of Agriculture, which gave funds to host X Games. With funding in place for the event, and additional help and sponsorship through Carhartt, the National Amusement Park invited the Uukhai Crew to build the skate park.
By bringing in extreme sports to Mongolia, Eddie believes that the X Games was important to promote confidence and break down cultural barriers. As a professional skateboarder and the current skate director of Uukhai, Eddie said that the aim of the Uukhai Skateboarding Association is to both foster a community and teach kids about leadership, art, and skateboarding.
"Uukhai is meant to bring the youth of Ulaanbaatar together to meet in a positive, energetic, and safe environment because skateboarding is about building human connections," Eddie says, pointing out that Uukhai skateboarders welcome anyone during their practices, which are typically held at The Beatles Monument or at the Zaisan Monument.
For Eddie, skateboarding is one of the most innovative cultures or subculture there is and has had an over-proportional impact on the other extreme sports. As a skater, Eddie said that he was constantly thinking of new ways to skate the world around him. And it's not just the stairs, hand rails, and curbs that present such opportunities, but just about anything and everything he sees. In his effort to explain this phenomenon, Eddie asserted that skaters just view the world around them through a different lens than most others, constantly using their own creativity and self-expression to move through their world.
"Skateboarding requires creativity, community engagement, and out-of-the box thinking. Our camp will be harnessing these skill sets." Following this train of thinking, Eddie believed that Mongolia not only needed areas to skate but also spaces where cultural barriers could be broken down, especially among the community of young adults who constitute the majority of Mongolia.
As the skating director for Uukhai Crew, he has watched his students continue creative efforts as adults. Among the creative professions, Eddie mentions that his students are now chefs, multimedia artists, musicians, and fashion designers.
Only a few countries in the world have a population in which seven in every 10 people are under 35 years of age. Given that the youth account for 34.9 percent of Mongolia's population, there is a need and a necessity to empower youth, invest in youth, increase the participation of youth at all levels of society, engage youth organizations in national initiatives, and improve the quality of the livelihoods and living standards of youth.
The skateboarding movement among Mongolia's youth serves as an example of how highly creative and innovative people seem to share a common characteristic of being able to engage their world — not for what it is, but for what it has the potential to be.
It all began twelve years ago, with a handwritten note in a small card
February 9 (Adventist Review) A handwritten note a Seventh-day Adventist Mongolian pastor received during a missionary trip to a foreign country twelve years ago, motivated him to become the first homegrown missionary to be sent out of his home country borders, only a couple of decades after the Adventist message made inroads and was organized in that landlocked and sparsely populated East Asia nation.
Pastor Nyamdavaa D., former ministerial secretary and evangelism director in the Mongolian Mission, recently accepted the call to move together with his family to an undisclosed location abroad, where he plans to share the gospel message in a place with no Seventh-day Adventist official presence.
Twelve years ago, during a mission trip abroad to provide training to members in an area where mission work is somewhat restricted, a lady gave Pastor Nyamdavaa a small card where she had written, "Never forget us. Remember that you also have 'other sheep' (John 10:16)."
"During my trip back to Mongolia…I cried, because [the note] deeply touched my heart," said Nyamdavaa as he remembered that day. "Eventually, in 2016, my heart felt such a big burden, that I couldn't sleep at night because of the sense of God's call."
Nyamdavaa and his family finally decided to enrol in the Pioneer Mission Movement (PMM), an outreach initiative of the Northern Asia-Pacific (NSD) region of the church, a territory which includes Mongolia and several other countries in East Asia. The Pioneer Mission Movement looks for ways of planting new churches by sending missionaries to do cross-cultural work, mainly in areas where no Seventh-day Adventist Church exists.
Pastor Nyamdavaa's decision is a milestone for the relatively new administrative unit of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which historically depended on "importing" Adventist missionaries from overseas for managing the church work in the country. The recently renamed Mongolia Mission, based in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, was only formed in 1997. Currently, this administrative field serves a church membership of almost 2,200 baptized members who meet in six churches across the country.
In a recent uplifting send-off ceremony to pray and commend Pastor Nyandavaa and his family to God, Pastor Kim YoHan, president of the Mongolia Mission, said how moved he was by Pastor Nyamdavaa's decision and asked every leader and member to pray for the family.
"I have prayed a lot for him and his family, so that God may stand by him during this new missionary challenge," said YoHan. "I'm sure that our Lord will help him fulfill His mission and will."
Pastor Nyamdavaa held no doubts about the lifelong motivation which drives him to such a challenging enterprise.
"Once a missionary, always a missionary," said Nyamdavaa. "[To be a missionary] is my life purpose!"
PHOTO & ORIGINAL STORY: http://www.nsdadventist.org/news/news_1_read.html?no=719
MONGOLIA, February 9 (The Fish Site) - Can a government project, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, make fish a staple product of the second-largest landlocked country on earth? Mainbayar Badarch reports on the promising first steps in bringing large-scale aquaculture to Mongolia's rivers and lakes
Today, fish farming counts as a minor industry in Mongolia. However, over the last few years the Mongolian government has been taking action to develop it. In 2009 the government launched its countrywide "Food Security" programme, a two-stage initiative that was fully implemented in 2016.
One component of the plan was the national fish sub-programme, which the Ministry of Food and Agriculture launched in 2012. A main goal of the sub-programme was to support fish farmers, both in Mongolia's provinces and in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, with fish resources, with the ultimate aim of expanding domestic fish production to supply 25 per cent of the country's fish consumption.
Under the fish sub-programme, feasibility studies have been conducted to assess whether fish farms could be established in several big lakes throughout Mongolia. One such project has been approved, and it is to be built using closed fish ponds on Terkhiin Tsagaan lake in Arkhangai province, Central Mongolia. Its capacity is expected to be 50-70 tons of breeding fish per year.
The fish sub-programme's primary activity has been in the area of technical assistance. From April 2014 to November 2016 the Mongolian government implemented a project jointly with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called "Developing aquaculture for improved fish supply in Mongolia".
With a budget of USD 268,000, the project involved training 34 employees in cold-water fish-raising techniques and sending three experts to Harbin City, China, for a fish-farming workshop. In addition, the project consultants published a manual for fish farmers and oversaw the translation of the FAO document "Technical guidance for raising Siberian sturgeon in cold water" into the Mongolian language.
The project established two model fish farms in the Tuul River Basin, known as "Sturgeon OST" and "Small Brook". FAO consultants assisted in the design of the farms and helped to build Small Brook on a 500 square metre site. (The FAO's technical assistance also supported the establishment of a research laboratory for fish health at the National Agricultural University.)
"Sturgeon OST", meanwhile, was the sub-programme's main recipient of help. The fish farm received a loan in the amount of 200 million Mongolian tughrik (around USD 80,000), which it combined with its own investment of 400 million tughrik (around USD 160,000) to fund the construction of outdoor fish ponds.
Part of the loan was used to set up fish cages within the enclosed areas of the lake to protect the fish. The farm received a further 200 million tughrik loan from the Ulaanbaatar city fund for small and medium enterprises under the sub-programme. This loan is intended to expand the operation with more fishponds for taimen and lenok. At the moment, the farm raises 17 types of fish in its 5km-long lake and supplies 20,000 tons of fish for consumers in Ulaanbaatar annually. The owners are planning to construct a tourism complex based on the fish farm by 2020.
Altanshand Badarch, general director of Sturgeon OST, says that many lakes and rivers are likely to dry up due to a mining boom in recent years. As a result, some species of fish have been disappearing. Aquaculture is, therefore, of special importance in terms of protecting and restoring endangered fish species, in addition to the health benefits fish meat will have for human consumers.
Along with the fish sub-programme, the local authorities of the northern provinces, where rivers and lakes are abundant, have taken steps to boost local aquaculture. In Selenge province, for example, where the Selenge river feeds Russia's Baikal lake, several feasibility studies are underway. Also, Khuvsgul province has announced a plan to develop fish farming on itsa big freshwater lake, Khuvsgul.
Experts agree that the project has built solid foundations for developing aquaculture in Mongolia. As a side benefit, it has increased the number of sturgeon in Mongolia, in a clear demonstration of the feasibility of large-scale fish farming in Mongolia.
February 15 (Earth Magazine) The bones were too yellow, too translucent, and the skeleton had no hands. I could tell the skeleton wasn't a dinosaur, but the illusion was enough to bring my brain to a momentary halt.
"He made this out of camel bones," said Aza, my guide at Bayanzag Park in the Mongolian Gobi, home of the Flaming Cliffs where Velociraptor was first discovered. The artist behind the camel-bone creation, Munkhbaatar, had a genuine love of dinosaurs but no scientific training.
"There are some fossils in the other room," Aza noted. We stepped into a dusty alcove where most of a vertebral column, complete with ribs and as long as a loveseat, lay across a low shelf, still in its red-orange sandstone matrix. It was likely from the Nemegt Formation, known for dinosaurs. It belonged in a museum collection, but this small, unofficial building was the closest thing the park had to one.
I was there as a representative of the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs (ISMD) to assess the status of fossils in the park and meet with locals to plan informational material. Ever-present in the back of my mind was the need for a museum in the park, with community outreach programs, a lab and collections facilities.
I had met the ISMD's founder, Bolortsetseg Minjin, the previous summer, a world away from the Flaming Cliffs. I had spent that summer at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah working on an interactive quarry map. One morning, I heard that some Mongolian VIPs were visiting. One of them was Bolortsetseg (who, like most Mongolians, seldom uses her last name), a paleontologist I had read about who played a key role in bringing a poached Tarbosaurus skeleton home to Mongolia. She agreed to an interview for the blog I wrote that summer and told me about the challenges facing Mongolian paleontology. We talked about her ongoing science outreach work with Mongolian youth and her dream of a permanent museum at the Flaming Cliffs. Bayanzag Park is one of the most popular tourist spots in Mongolia, and the cliffs are considered by many paleontologists to be paleontological holy ground. Her visit to Dinosaur was, in part, research for a future Bayanzag museum.
The next time we met, six months later, was over noodles at a Korean restaurant in Manhattan. This time, she interviewed me — about creating a website for the Flaming Cliffs. Our discussion continued over weekly cross-country calls (I live in San Francisco; she in New York City) and evolved into a crowdfunding campaign, a suite of outreach materials, a social media presence and a lot of IRS paperwork. I became an officer and director of the ISMD when we registered as a U.S. nonprofit in July, and by September I was in the Gobi Desert, at a place most paleontologists only dream of visiting, standing next to a dead camel mounted to look like a theropod.
Bolortsetseg and I landed in Ulaanbaatar on Aug. 31, 2016, ready and packed for an expedition across rural Mongolia to bring the science of dinosaurs to kids who literally live on top of them. A roving museum, $46,000 in crowdfunded support, a Land Cruiser full of fossil replicas and printed worksheets, two drivers and a translator/educator all came together to make this Bolortsetseg's biggest workshop season yet. My job was to document everything and tell the story. It was a dream project for someone with my mixed background in communication and science, and it was an honor to see Mongolia for the first time with a native. Better yet, a native paleontologist.
The Paleontologist's Daughter
Bolortsetseg was born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital city. Her mother taught at a local college and her father, Minjin Chuluun, was a respected invertebrate paleontologist. In 1996, Professor Minjin was invited on an expedition led by paleontologists Mike Novacek and Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. With some effort, Bolortsetseg's father convinced the Mongolian crew to enlist her as a cook. Her master's in paleontology hadn't exactly prepared her for carving mutton and frying dumplings, so she spent her days prospecting, bringing in delicate mammal and lizard fossils for which she had a keen eye. This earned her the wrath of the Mongolian team leaders, who swore she would never be invited back into the field with them. But she also earned the respect and support of Novacek and Norell, who invited her to complete a doctorate through a joint program of City University of New York and AMNH.
She left Mongolia that year for the first time, barely speaking English and not knowing a soul in New York aside from the paleontologists she worked with.
AMNH left a deep impression on Bolortsetseg the first time she entered the building. Mongolia had a handful of museums at the time, but nothing compared to even the entrance hall at AMNH. And behind the scenes were vast fossil collections, labs and highly skilled professionals who deftly handled, prepared, shipped and mounted fossils of all sizes. She says she realized quickly how much work would have to be done before her own country — whose fossils were this museum's bread and butter — would be ready to do its dinosaurs justice. That work became her mission.
The Dinosaur Exodus
The history of paleontological science in Mongolia began in 1922, when AMNH sent zoologist Roy Chapman Andrews on the third of the Central Asiatic Expeditions. Andrews led a team of paleontologists, geologists and archaeologists into the Gobi Desert. It was here, at a red sandstone outcrop, that Andrews named the Flaming Cliffs, where they found their first Mongolian dinosaur: Protoceratops.
AMNH pulled out of Mongolia in 1925 as Soviet influence took hold, but that didn't mark the end of exploration in the country. In the late 1940s, a Soviet expedition discovered the giant tyrannosaur Tarbosaurus bataar. In the 1960s, paleobiologist Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska led the Polish-Mongolian Expeditions, discovering the enigmatic Deinocheirus and the famed "fighting dinosaurs" specimen of a Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in mortal combat. Once the Cold War ended, AMNH quickly returned, and they've been sending expeditions almost every summer since.
Today, the Flaming Cliffs is known worldwide among fossil enthusiasts. The Cretaceous-aged red sandstone matrix preserves stark white fossils in three dimensions, often fully articulated. The "Jurassic Park" film franchise added to the site's fame in 1994 when it chose the name of a certain small, feathered Flaming Cliffs theropod for its human-sized, scaly antagonists. Today, Velociraptor mongoliensis is one of the most well-known dinosaurs, everywhere except Mongolia.
When Bolortsetseg first visited Mongolia after moving to New York, she started talking to kids about dinosaurs. Most had never seen a dinosaur fossil. None could name a species from Mongolia. Some even told her dinosaurs were mythological.
Roy Chapman Andrews may have begun a prestigious tradition of dinosaur paleontology in Mongolia, but his expeditions also heralded a less noble legacy: removing fossils from the country. When Andrews published his riveting tales of scientific discovery, Mongolia's fossil riches caught the attention of collectors from around the world and a black market trade was born. Mongolians desperate under Soviet influence, and later during the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, were more than happy to extract old animal bones for money to feed their families.
Today, Mongolian laws prohibit the export of vertebrate fossils and require excavators to carry permits, but those laws have been hard to enforce without funding or manpower. In the last four years, Bolortsetseg has helped repatriate more than 30 illegally exported Mongolian dinosaurs that have turned up in the U.S. alone.
Preventing Poaching With Education and Infrastructure
The realization that so many fossils had been stolen over the past century inspired Bolortsetseg to take action. "Once a fossil left the country," she says, "knowledge left with it."
This realization spurred her to create the ISMD. Paperwork went through the Mongolian legal system in 2007. In 2009, with support from paleontologist Jack Horner, then of the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, the new organization launched Mongolia's first dinosaur-focused outreach project. It was a workshop to teach 32 rural and nomadic children about the dinosaurs of their homeland.
The workshops have been a hit with kids and teachers almost every summer since, but a box of replicas and a PowerPoint presentation can only go so far. Back in New York, Bolortsetseg focuses much of her time on bringing real dinosaurs back to Mongolia. Seeing the skeletons in person, she says, will have a much bigger impact.
Bolortsetseg says she hopes that bringing dinosaurs back to Mongolia will help future Mongolians summon the names of Velociraptor, Protoceratops and Oviraptor as easily as the average American conjures Triceratops, T. rex and Stegosaurus. A host of benefits should come with the infrastructure envisioned to make this dream real: increased tourism, local science literacy, a conservation mentality and economic opportunities. With locally relevant programs and a conscientious fee structure, fossil parks and museums have the power to improve the well-being of rural communities by serving as gathering places that foster conversation and inspire new ways of thinking. Eventually, by helping Mongolians see dinosaurs as more valuable when they stay in the country, Bolortsetseg hopes to prevent incidents like what happened in 2012.
A Tarbosaurus Comes Home
"A giant short-armed, two-fingered predatory dinosaur from Asia of 70 million years ago," is how University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas Holtz described Tarbosaurus bataar. I'd challenged him to do so without mentioning T. rex, the standard to which most people compare large theropods. Since 2012, however, Tarbosaurus has become the most famous dinosaur in Mongolia.
Tarbosaurus was discovered in the Gobi in 1946, but came to international fame in 2012 when an illegally exported specimen went up for auction in New York. "Luckily I found out about that auction just three days before the auction date," Bolortsetseg says. She then reported the proposed sale to the Mongolian government. The president of Mongolia intervened and, with support from the U.S. government, the fossil narrowly escaped sale to private bidders. It came home a year later. It now resides in the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs, where anyone in Ulaanbaatar can visit it.
The success of the Tarbosaurus repatriation marked a new phase for the ISMD. The story had been followed closely in Mongolia, and suddenly kids in her workshops already knew the name of a dinosaur before she got there. Fossils became a hot issue in national politics, and reporters from around the world wanted to know Bolortsetseg's life story. Poaching by native Mongolians, too, was on the rise as word spread even further that dinosaurs were worth money to collectors. Both knowledge and fossils were now in demand, and Bolortsetseg needed more resources. She needed a museum, and the ISMD's vision of a permanent structure at the Flaming Cliffs was no closer to launching than it had been in 2007. There was, however, one museum within reach.
The Moveable Museum
In the 1990s, AMNH owned several Moveable Museums that traveled around New York City, bringing the Mesozoic to public schools; then it ran out of funding. In 2013, AMNH donated one of these museums to the ISMD — a giant blue Winnebago with the image of a near-life-size sauropod on the side, under the English words, "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries."
Gerry Ohrstrom, an investor and philanthropist who has known Bolortsetseg for years, funded transport of the Moveable Museum from New York to Ulaanbaatar. The bus first toured its new home in August 2015, roving all the way to the Flaming Cliffs thanks, in part, to an Indiegogo campaign that raised $4,460 from 61 backers. The crowdfunded resources weren't quite enough to bring the museum down the long dirt road to the Flaming Cliffs and back, but Bolortsetseg made up the difference from her own savings.
To the grade-schoolers in rural Mongolian towns, many of whom live in yurts and know the back of a horse better than the back of a school bus, the arrival of the Moveable Museum brings the same reaction as a spaceship landing. It's huge: too tall for Mongolian garages and too long to maneuver in most parking lots, so it usually stops in the street, blocking traffic for added effect. As the hatch opens, mechanized stairs lower themselves to the feet of the first kid in line and conditioned air whooshes out as if from an airlock. Inside, artifacts of strange worlds greet them: Protoceratops skulls and Oviraptor nests, images of Earth 100 million years ago, and glowing interactive panels in a language most of the kids can't read. The lights inside are halogen — expensive-feeling and serene compared to the flickering fluorescents ubiquitous in Mongolian classrooms. The exhibits are modern, made of acrylic and steel, with no trace of the Soviet-era cinder blocks or exposed electrical wiring common to most Mongolian museums.
Many of the dinosaurs on the Moveable Museum are replicas of specimens of Mongolian dinosaurs that AMNH visitors have enjoyed since Roy Chapman Andrews shipped them out of the Gobi generations ago. The children of Arvaikheer and Bayankhongor who climbed into our old blue Winnebago, however, were the first of their lineage ever to see them.
Four Weeks in Mongolia
In summer 2016, ISMD applied for nonprofit status in the U.S. and launched a fundraising campaign to keep the Moveable Museum running, create new outreach and educational materials, and hold four weeks of workshops for kids aged 7 to 14 in Bayankhongor, Arvaikheer, Dalanzadgad, Mandalgovi and Ulaanbaatar. By August 14, the campaign had raised its goal of $45,000, and around midnight on September 1, Bolortsetseg and I landed at Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
We assembled a team and gathered supplies. Mongolia is a big country with few paved roads, so we would spend more days traveling than educating. Workshops were booked in school classrooms, government buildings and libraries. We had to get as much work in as we could by the end of September, when temperatures would drop fast and the Moveable Museum would need to be stored for winter. The ISMD's plan for its most ambitious workshop season was in place.
We started every workshop with an activity called "Minii Dinozavr," meaning "My Dinosaur." While "minii" is a Mongolian word, "Dinozavr" (pronounced dee-no-zow-er) is the Russian interpretation of the Latin word, familiar to Westerners, that means "terrible lizard." Dinozavr is not a common word in Mongolia, but Bolortsetseg prefers it to the Mongolian word for dinosaur, "uleg gurvel."
Although most kids in our workshops weren't familiar with dinosaurs at all — in fact, we even met adults who weren't sure dinosaurs were real — there were exceptions. In Arvaikheer, one boy brought in his favorite comic, starring a Tarbosaurus, and an entire class in Mandalgovi already knew that birds were dinosaurs. In another workshop, a group of 11- to 13-year-olds spontaneously started Mongolia's first junior paleontology club, which they named Velociraptor.
Most of the time, the level of existing knowledge in a town depended on whether Bolortsetseg had previously held workshops there. But the kids who were most familiar with dinosaurs were in the city closest to the Flaming Cliffs, Dalanzadgad, where a brand new dinosaur-themed amusement park — yet to be named — had just opened (see sidebar).
Pressured to open early, the theme park still lacked any information about the dinosaur replicas on display when we visited. There were no plaques and no pamphlets — just animatronic, anonymous animals. The difference the park has made on public awareness, however, was already clear. Our "Minii Dinozavr" sheets in Dalanzadgad came back with renderings of nameless beasts we recognized from the park.
At Dalanzadgad, the team split. Two stayed behind to run workshops while I and three others drove to Bayanzag. This was where we met the artist named Munkhbaatar and his camel-bone dinosaur. Our main destination, however, was the Flaming Cliffs.
The Flaming Cliffs
At the top of the Flaming Cliffs, a dry wind tossed sand in my eyes as I squinted toward the impossibly empty horizon. It was beautiful, but for a state park it was too empty. There were visitors, but just as in the theme park in Dalanzadgad, there was a surprising lack of information for them. No signs, no park maps, no trail markers. As I explored, I visualized the possibilities. A plaque by a small tree-shrub might read, "Zag (Haloxylon ammodendron): This small tree only grows in sandy, dry climates." Or on a paper handout, one might see, "Gobi racerunner (Eremias przewalskii): Look for this cold-blooded lizard warming itself on the sandstone." At the end of a trail that was unmarked, I imagined a sign describing the vast Gobi landscape below. "Desert of Dinosaurs: Eighty million years ago, this landscape was covered in red-orange sand dunes. Standing here then, you might spot a Velociraptor stalking a Protoceratops, or a young Oviraptor couple helping their first hatchling out of its shell."
In my imagination, the helpful text was printed in both Mongolian and English, maybe even Russian and Korean. It was accompanied by illustrations and infographics. These signs were one of the many future projects Bolortsetseg and I had discussed, but now that I was there they felt urgent. The local government knew they were needed and wholeheartedly supported a museum in the park, but hadn't secured funding yet. Perhaps we could.
Aza and I climbed down from the cliffs and drove to several other areas within Bayanzag Park. At three stops, Aza showed us unexcavated fossils discovered on prior tours. We had no tools, time or permit to excavate them, but also no way to guarantee they would still be there the following year. Even if we could excavate them, the closest fossil prep lab was more than a day's drive away in Ulaanbaatar. The need for a museum with a lab and collections facility here in the park was undeniable. At our last stop, I spent half an hour casually prospecting and found bone fragments every few steps. How many pieces had left Mongolia in the pockets of tourists who honestly didn't know they were breaking the law because there were no signs, no flyers, not even a notice at the airport to inform them?
Finishing the Workshops, Building Museums
Our last full day in Mongolia was spent at the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs (CMMD) in Ulaanbaatar, a new museum established as a home for the famous Tarbosaurus skeleton and other repatriated fossils. Bolortsetseg and the museum director signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding future collaboration between the ISMD and CMMD. We discussed sharing funding for fossil preparation and specimen storage, joint fieldwork in the coming year, ongoing educational programs, and a future museum at Bayanzag.
The CMMD is a good start for making dinosaurs accessible in Mongolia, even though much of the facility is still inaccessible to the public, save an entrance hall where attendants in handmade, green felt dinosaur vests sell tickets and remind visitors not to take photos unless they have paid an extra fee. In the entrance hall, a pair of fully assembled giant skeletons greet visitors from atop a rocky platform, ribs and skulls lit from below by color-changing lights. On the left is Saurolophus, a Mongolian hadrosaur with a gentle, duck-like face. On the right is the Tarbosaurus. Surrounding them along the walls are the remains of Protoceratops, Oviraptor, and more. All repatriated after illegal export, they were once cloistered away from science and the public. Now they are on display for all, with informational plaques in English and Mongolian.
Bolortsetseg says she's often approached by journalists and documentarians seeking dramatic tales of poacher-thwarting justice. They're always disappointed. Bolortsetseg doesn't see poachers as enemies, no matter how infuriating it can be to find the shattered remains of a dinosaur that has been pried from the rock for profit. Financial desperation, she says, is what drives poaching, and that can be fought by improving the economy. Tourism is already Mongolia's second-biggest industry, and dinosaurs are one thing almost every tourist asks about. That's something that can be capitalized on, but not if fossils keep leaving the country. Poachers, in the long term, are hurting themselves, Bolortsetseg says.
She also says that poaching is best fought with education. Once-a-year workshops and a Moveable Museum are just the beginning. With permanent museums at important fossil sites like the Flaming Cliffs, Bolortsetseg says she hopes to inspire children to become scientists, convert tourists into supporters and show those who would sell a dinosaur for profit that the biggest gains come from keeping dinosaurs at home, next to a gift shop.
Plans are in the works for a museum at the Flaming Cliffs. In the long term, we hope the museum will serve as a testing ground and a template for facilities serving each of Mongolia's important fossil locales. Thanks to Bolortsetseg's repatriation and poaching prevention work, there will likely be plenty of dinosaur fossils to fill them. And, if the enthusiasm of our young workshop participants is any indication, we may even have enough Mongolian paleontologists to staff them.
February 15 (Earth Magazine) In June 2016, the tourism board of Dalanzadgad, a small city in the Mongolian Gobi, opened a new dinosaur theme park on the outskirts of town. It was paid for with a government grant awarded before the 2016 economic downturn. The night we arrived in town, our Gobi team was given a tour by two of the project's biggest advocates.
Upon entering the park, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in any normal amusement park, save for a few details — the two-story-high entrance gate with what appears to be a Ceratosaurus perched on top, the hadrosaur statue between the soon-to-be gift shop and the cotton candy vendor, and the animatronic sauropod fountain. There's a merry-go-round, a small waterpark, a row of vendors and one of those giant spinning swings. Once you get past all that, to where the park peters out into the Gobi Desert, you will find yourself in the dinosaur garden.
Roughly a dozen motion-activated, rubber-skinned, roaring beasts are each cordoned off with laminated 8.5 x 11 "Do Not Touch" signs in Mongolian. When I was there, these were the only signs in the park. There was no plaque reading "Tarbosaurus bataar: A Cretaceous predator from Mongolia," or even simply "Tarbosaurus." In fact, throughout the entire park, there was no written information about dinosaurs at all. Not even a brochure. That's one reason we were brought there.
"He wants to know if the dinosaurs are the right size," said our translator, interpreting for our host, a local parliament member. I took a minute to wrap my head around the question. I was surrounded by unlabeled dinosaurs of varying heights, but since our paleontologist had stayed back in Ulaanbaatar for this leg of our expedition, I was suddenly the resident dinosaur expert.
I panicked briefly, then took a deep breath and looked around before commenting: "This sauropod could be about the right size depending on which one we label it as. Or we could say it's a juvenile. That theropod over there should probably be a Tarbosaurus but it's a little small. The Stegosaurus is way too small. I'm not really sure what this one is supposed to be so I can't say. The ceratopsian hatchling is obviously way too big but you knew that." (The child-sized hatchling, no doubt based on Roy Chapman Andrews' nearby discovery of the first dinosaur eggs, popped out of its shell and screeched at everyone who walked by.)
I realized halfway through my descriptions that I was bringing everyone down. They'd put a lot into this and it still, apparently, wasn't up to expectations. As we walked out of the dinosaur garden, I tried to explain that dinosaur displays like this were once common in the U.S. and that they'd inspired a generation of paleontologists despite their inaccuracies. Plus, the dinosaur garden was already inspiring kids. I could see their faces: rapt, lost in wonder. I knew that feeling. I knew the little boy in front of us — staring up at fake blood smeared on the roaring, rubber jaws of an anonymous theropod— would drag his dad around that dinosaur garden until it closed. He would tell his friends about it and ask his teachers. Maybe, with encouragement and learning opportunities, he'd grow up to be a paleontologist.
Boodhoo, a volunteer with the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs, will be taking part in this year's outreach efforts in Mongolia. Follow her updates from the expedition on the ISMD Facebook page.
Ulaanbaatar, February 9 (MONTSAME) Following the XXVIII Golden Grand Prix Ivan Yarygin 2017 in Karsnoyarsk, Russia, the renewed world rankings were announced by the United World Wrestling (UWW) on February 8.
According to the UWW's women's freestyle wrestling welterweight rankings, D.Otgontsetseg at No.3 and B.Altantsetseg at No.18 in 55kg, E.Smiya at No.20 in 53kg, P.Orkhon who moved up to 63kg and defeated Rio 2016 Olympian Inna Trazhukova for her second Yargin title and No.6 in the world rankings. Also, B.Shoovdor was moved down to No.11 from No.9 in 60kg, S.Battsetseg at No.10 in 63kg. Meanwhile O.Nasarburmaa was at No.11 in 69kg and G.Urtnasan at No.19 in 75kg.
As for men's freestyle wrestling rankings, State Honored Athlete G.Mandakhnaran at No.5 in 65kg, T.Tuvshintulga at No.16 in 61kg, P.Unurtbat at No.14 in 74kg.
Wrestlers are ranked by their most notable or recent results over the last 12 months and their position in the previous rankings.
February 9 (UB Post) Mongolian athlete B.Ganbold will compete in the World Para-Nordic Skiing Championships 2017, which will be held from February 10 to 19 in Finsterau, Germany. Athlete B.Ganbold, his coach J.Dashdondog and the Mongolian Paralympic Committee held a press conference on February 7 and talked about the upcoming tournament.
B.Ganbold will participate in the World Para-Nordic Skiing Championships in order to qualify for thePyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympics. To qualify for the 2018 Paralympics, he has to collect 180 points, and currently, he has 110 points.
His coach J.Dashdondog said, "We competed in the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics for the first time. Since that time we wanted to compete in the international tournaments such as world and Asian championships, and we did. The Mongolian Paralympic Committee, Physical Culture and Sports Authority and sponsor organizations helped us a lot. B.Ganbold did preparation for the World Para-Nordic Skiing Championships with national skiing team. I hope we will achieve and qualify for the 2018 Winter Paralympics."
Para-skier B.Ganbold said, "I do my training with the national skiing team. My skills and techniques are improving year by year. First I raced with the national skiing team's athletes and lost. Now I can come closer to them. I will compete in three categories of distance at the World Para-Nordic Skiing Championships. I've prepared well I think."
B.Ganbold is the only para-skier of Mongolia who is preparing for his second Winter Paralympics. He won Mongolia's first silver medal in para-skiing history from an international tournament he took place in during the USA in 2013.He lost his arm due to injury when he was 15 years old.
February 9 (UB Post) The Mongolian ethnic ballad group, Khusugtun, will organize their concert tour called "Khusugtun Team at World Stage 2017" through 10 cities of the USA and Canada starting from March 3.
The group will perform at professional stages and famous museums such as the UN headquarters in New York, "Rubin Museum" and Chicago theaters to promote Mongolian traditional folk music to the world.
The concert will be held from March 3 to 26 in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver of Canada, and New York, Washington D.C, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles of the USA.
Mongolia's first internet cinema, www.miye.mn, initiated Khusugtun's concert tour and is working as the general organizer. This is the first time that Khusugtun is cooperating with a Mongolian organization on a concert tour.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Mongolia in Washington D.C and Ottawa, the UN headquarters in New York, and creator of the Netflix's "Marco Polo" John Fusco are cooperating with Khusugtun on advertising.
After their concerts in the USA and Canada, Khusugtun will perform in Tokyo Nikkei Hall, Japan on April 12 and Rumi Festival in Pakistan on May 10.
Khusugtun recently performed a concert in Brasilia, Brazil on January 24, for the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Brazil.
Violons Barbares: riding high with Mongolia's horse head fiddle
February 9 (Radio France International) Violons Barbares (Barbaric violins) is a wild and rather wonderful trio from Mongolia, Bulgaria and France. RFI met the two fiddlers and a percussionist at a recent performance at the Musée Guimet in Paris to talk about Balkan melodies, throat singing and above all horse gallop from the Mongolian Steppes.
Dandarvaanchig Enkhjargal, conveniently shortened to Epi, plays the Mongolian morin khoor, a two-stringed fiddle decorated with a horse's head.
Legend has it that a Mongol missed his dead horse so much that he used its head, bones and hair to make an instrument on which he started to play the familiar noises of his beloved horse.
Epi doesn't go into this but does manage to make you visualise galloping horses when playing.
"In Mongolia, everything is about horses, all energy is in the horse," he says.
Dimitar Gougov provides the no less energetic Balkan element with some fine fiddling on the gadulka, a bowed instrument from Bulgaria with three melodic and 11 sympathetic strings.
While Gougov and Epi have a love-in on their fiddles, percussionist Fabien Guyot sits (and sometimes stands) between them producing an enthralling soundscape on his bespoke percussion set.
His toy shop includes African Dun-dun drums, Moroccan bendir, but also broken piled cymbals to provide "Asian colours".
Then there are salad bowls, hot water bottles and his left foot will now and then tap on a cake box full of nuts, thimbles, coins and anything else that takes his fancy.
He plays with finger, nails, hands and a range of mallets and brushes.
"I have a lot of tricks, toys, that can follow the spirit of Violons Barbares' music.. sometimes with rock and roll energy, sometimes with totally big spaces, big Steppes, so I'm changing the colour to make the landscapes different."
Horse gallop and sore throats
The resulting sound is very powerful, and exhilarating to watch.
"Bulgarian rhythmics is very complicated and percussion from Fabien is very rock and roll, and [with] Mongolian horse gallop it's a good mix," says Epi. "We have lots of fun."
Epi is a master of Mongolian throat singing, a near-shamanistic drone that sounds impossibly low.
The two Europeans are picking it up quite successfully, even if "it makes your throat sore," admits Guyot.
Less common for throat singers, Epi also performs diphonic chant, soaring like an eagle circling the grasslands.
From Bjork to Bach, Barbarians unite
Bulgarians are partly descended from Turkish-Mongol warlords who came on horseback. So the two fiddlers had common ground says Gougov, who formed the band in 2008.
"Mongolian and Bulgarian people were known [as] barbarian people. So that was the first thing."
The band also wanted to avoid the serene, classical image of the violin which somehow didn't fully correspond to their folk-rock, punk-tinged sound.
"[The term] 'Barbare' is something interesting," says Gougov. [Our sound] is a little bit different so I think it was the good direction."
"When we began the band we thought that we will create music from both traditions, beginning in the Balkans and [going] to Asia, to Mongolia," Guyot adds. "And then we started travelling together and when you travel you listen to music, not just your own, but to rock music, Bjork, J.S. Bach."
After a couple of years they didn't so much throw tradition out the window, but build on it to create their own sound.
"We thought tradition [has] to be there, but we're going to open the big window, to make a big space of exciting experiences."
They gallop through that big space, from the Gobi desert, to Istanbul to the Balkans, with uber-energized versions of traditional songs (from Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and central Europe) and their own compositions.
Many are love songs, but with a torrid and cheeky twist. On stage they exploit that to the full. By way of introduction to one song Gougov adopts the tone of a horseman on the make: "Oh darling, come and have a ride on my horse!". To which Epi replies with a horsey snort.
The traditional Bulgarian song Djore dos is played very fast. "It's a love song that we transform into something like a disco song," says Gougov.
Saturday yurt fever meanwhile is one of their own compositions: an ode to the beauty of the earth.
"The meaning of the song is very important because we need to love our mother earth," says Epi. "Don't kill the woods and don't [destroy] the mountains, we want our world [to] stay natural."
Epi grew up a nomad on the taiga with his family and their herd of horses. So he knows a thing or two about nature.
"Nomadic life is very different because it's a very natural life," he says. "We produce zero plastic, everything is bio [organic]."
At the age of 12 he went to the Ulan Baator Conservatory where he studied horse-head violin for seven years under an eminent morin khuur master.
He's lived in Germany since 1989 but remains very connected to his musical tradition which adapts easily to many different kinds of music.
"I learned many, many traditional songs from my child time. This is my soul. Mongolian music is very pentatonic music [there are] no chords, [it's] without rhythmical part and [it's] very free music.
"We have three different songs to sing: long songs [Urtyn duu], middle-long song, and normal songs."
Unsurprisingly, Epi sings a lot of long songs.
"If you sing long songs it's very exciting, from earth to sky, your soul feels free."
The trio are currently touring with French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood and Guo Gan from China, a master of the ErHu fiddle.
"It's a nice experience too because it's a new opening, with a lot of improvisation," Guyot concludes. "We have fun with this project."
The band released Violons Barbares (2010) and Saulem Ai (2014). A third album is in the making. You'll have fun listening, but even more if you catch them live.
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February 9 (UB Post) Actress and model D.Purevsuren is one of the most successful women in Mongolia. She first captivated the audience and media through her stunning appearance in the music video for the song "Arvan Jiliin Dursamj" by Naim Dakhi Garig group in 1998, when she was 19 years old.
After succeeding as a model, D.Purevsuren ventured into acting and played leading roles in over 10 feature films and seven plays, as well as nearly 30 music videos. She has managed to maintain her status as a highly-sought model and actress to this date.
D.Purevsuren gave a frank interview about her career and upcoming film "Hoyor Ami".
You recently played in "Hoyor Ami" (Two Lives) after a two-year break from public life. The film will premiere in March. Can you tell us about your character in this film?
The director warned me that I wouldn't look that great in this film and that I wouldn't have to pay much attention to my appearance. I didn't even put on makeup while filming and I transformed into a character with a completely different personality than who I am. I tend to smile and laugh a lot, but the director kept scolding me to stop laugh, and reduce the liveliness and mischief in my eyes.
You played opposite State Academic Theater of Drama actor S.Bold-Erdene in this film. How was your first joint project with him?
That's right. This is the first time I've worked with this amazing actor. I find working with new people very interesting. I learned tons of things from this experience.
I enjoyed conversing about the film with him. S.Bold-Erdene is a talented actor who has the ability to constantly take the lead and help his co-workers get into character. Director Tuka (B.Ganbold) sees things from a different angle compared to what most people see and expresses it in a unique way.
You haven't been active in movies since "Khojliin Nuudel" (The Winning Move) in 2015. You seem to take on film projects once every two years. Is there a reason for this? You're highly sought-after by film producers. How do you choose the films you take on?
I do get offers, but it's pointless to accept each and every one of them. I prefer doing different kinds of films, especially those I haven't done before, with a crew I've never worked with in the past. Besides, I've been acting for over 10 years, and frankly speaking, I've passed the age to be searching for roles and coaxing producers to let me play in a movie. I try to take on high-quality projects that are impactful. I'm my own manager since I'm a freelancer. I decide whether to accept an offer after reviewing the film script, production team, and actors.
You're one of the first graduates of the musical drama class of the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture. You joined Khuvisgal Production immediately after graduation along with your classmates. Why did you all quit at the same time?
I doubt that everyone would've continued to work with Khuvisgal Production to this day. It was clear that eventually, some of us would have to leave whether for personal reasons or due to decisions by the company. But we didn't conspire to leave at the same time. We made our own decisions, pursued our own paths, and tried out different projects. For instance, I left Khuvisgal Production in 2007 to attend a language course in Singapore. When I returned a year later, I played in "Bi Er Khund Khairtai" play by Khuvisgal Production. I felt as if I'd become isolated from the world when I became a freelancer. Even so, I got used to it after a while.
You haven't performed on stage since 2008. Do you ever feel like performing in a play sometimes?
Yes, I haven't taken on plays after "Bi Er Khund Khairtai" and I sometimes feel like doing one. The stage demands more talent and skills from actors. It's really fun to rehearse and perform in front of an audience.
Didn't you say you were interested in doing an adventure or action films to break the chain of "cute and lovely" roles you usually got?
Yes, I think about this all the time. I want to try an adventure or action film so much. It's like a dream, but I think it'll come true one day.
Are you interested in producing an independent film?
Not right now. Besides, I've never written a script before. I write poems when I feel like it.
Which character you've played to date is most similar to you?
My character in "Tsasan Okhin" film had a very similar personality to my own. I'm very frank and lively just like that character. Wow, time really flies. It's already been eight years since I filmed "Tsasan Okhin".
I'm very straightforward as well. I just have to speak my mind or I can't calm down. I'm not the type of person to hold back my words so that I can say it at a more appropriate time. I guess some people aren't good at handling straightforward comments and get upset. Still, I will stay true to myself.
Everyone makes mistakes. Have you ever felt embarrassed or ashamed while watching one of your works during your early career?
Of course. There were times when I just wanted to hide behind my seat while watching my own scenes at a cinema. I almost went under my seat during the premiere of "Booliin Geree" film due to embarrassment.
You helped with the planning and designs for O Couture Fashion Show, organized by designer D.Otgonjargal. Everyone expected you to be the main model, yet you didn't walk on the runway. You even declared to never walk on the runway again. Why did you make this decision?
D.Otgonjargal's husband, E.Enkhbold, and I have been the "face" of Goyo Cashmere brand since 2009. As I'm very close with those two, I supported their work as a friend. But I wasn't thrilled to walk on the runway.
The thing is that, in my opinion, fashion is a career for young people. I want to leave this industry when I'm most successful and beautiful so that I can be remembered in that image. You could say that it's my way of showing respect to the stage and runway.
I've been working in the fashion industry since my debut as a model in 1998. I think I had my share of success. It's my time to leave the industry.
Will you continue your career as a photoshoot model?
Yes. Photoshoots seem more interesting and it gives me more time to focus on acting.
Did you aspire to become a model or actress when you were little?
I started attending dance classes of the Mongolian Children's Palace in fourth grade. Since then, I actively participated in numerous competitions.
Now you're a mother of three. How much time do you make for your children?
I spend more time with them now than I used to in the past. I don't chase after my career as much as I used to. I used to often go to the countryside for film shoots and skip meals, but now it's different. I have a duty as a mother to focus on my family.
Is it challenging to be a working mom?
My oldest daughter is 14, my second daughter is five, and the youngest is nine months old. They've grown so much. Children grow up so fast. There's nothing challenging. My older sister looks after my children when I'm busy with work. I can focus on my work because I know my family's got my back.
Do you plan to have more children?
I want to have as many children as possible. It's always better to have a bigger family, and kids are so adorable. The house feels much bigger with lots of children, but emptier when the kids aren't around. I feel happiest with them around to make things livelier.
I love showering my children with hugs and kisses. They'll stop being so adorable and become slightly distant when they grow up a bit. I hardly manage to land a kiss on my oldest even after begging. She becomes so shy and embarrassed when I ask for a peck on the cheek. That's why, I want to adore and express my affection to them as much as possible while they still allow me.
Does your husband support your work?
Yes, a lot actually. That's the reason I can continue to work and do what I enjoy.
When did you start teaching yoga?
I started doing yoga when my second child turned one. It's been four years since. I couldn't go to the gym because my daughters were still young, and fast-pace training isn't my style. So I got some yoga exercise DVDs and started doing yoga at home. Then, I went to yoga classes at the Children's Development and Women's Center. I started teaching last September. More people are becoming interested in yoga nowadays.
How has yoga changed you?
Its benefits are endless. I recommend everyone, not only in Mongolia but around the world, who is depressed or need exercise to do yoga. Yoga is a vital part a healthy lifestyle for me. People die because of an unhealthy and rigid body, not of old age. Yoga is a meditation with movement.
I tried becoming a vegan for 21 days. It helped me calm my mind and lightened my body, but I can't become a vegan or vegetarian. I feel like I can't recover my strength without meat. People living in an extreme climate like Mongolians need to eat meat for essential protein and nutrition, or we'll collapse. I prefer having a well-balanced diet to cutting meat and animal products from my diet.
Mongolia is the world's second largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. When you think of Mongolia you might not automatically think of swimming. Well, I might be about to change that. Maybe …
February 8 (Eternal Landscapes) Mongolia. A landlocked country where the number of swimming pools outside of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar can be counted on one hand (with a few fingers left over) and any fresh water lake is frozen hard for at least a third if not more of the year.
This is the surface of Khovsgol Nuur now … in February. Stunning. But perhaps a little hard to access.
Mongolia and wild swimming may seem a strange combination - not one you automatically think of - Mongolia being a land-locked country with more than 30% covered by the Gobi Desert - the world's 5th largest desert. But both are fundamental to who I am.
I swim for the feeling of freedom in the water and the absolute joy it can bring - whether that be the rhythm (and 'mindfulness') of lengths in a public swimming pool or something outdoors and 'wilder'. Swimming outdoors is about feeling alive - I swim for the feeling of adventure as well. It's exhilarating. It's refreshing. It's invigorating. And frequently cold. I don't always get in either… sometimes a slate grey sky can abruptly remove any motivation that you had.
I swim in Mongolia. At the municipal pool in Ulaanbaatar and then when I can when I'm out on a tour. Travelling is about new perspectives and wild swimming in Mongolia always provides a new perspective.
Turuu (my business partner) is from the Gobi. He sees water in a completely practical way - accessing the local well for drinking water for the family and the livestock. Yet, he understands this desire I have to swim - the first question always asked is 'Boss, you swim?', knowing that if I'm swimming then everything is OK with the world.
For those that understand the reason why we swim, this blog post is for you - my top five swim spots in Mongolia:
Khovsgol Nuur National Park has Khovsgol Nuur, a beautiful fresh water lake, at its core. Lake Khovsgol is a spiritual place for Mongolians where it is known as Dalai Ej - Mother Sea.
It is a large, deep and ancient lake that is part of the Baikal Rift System. Located in the northernmost extension of Mongolia it is part of a transition zone where the southern reach of the monumental boreal forest meets the central Asian steppe (with a backdrop of a mountainous landscape formed by the Khoridol Saridag Range - an imposing rampart (primarily dolomite) with many peaks topping 3,000 meters in elevation).
For those that like statistics, the lake is 136 km long, 20-40 km wide, 260 m deep, and accounts for nearly 70% of all freshwater in Mongolia. The lake's surface lies at 1645 m above mean sea level.
It will be cold, but also clean and pure.
Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur
I know this image shows little of the lake, but it puts the wilderness of the area into perspective. Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur is a large freshwater lake in Arkhangai Aimag in central Mongolia. It has 10 tributary rivers and over 6000 hectares of wetlands of international importance. The numerous bays and peninsulas on the northern shore are home to Bar Headed Geese, Ruddy Shellducks and Northern Lapwings. It is one of 70 Important Bird Area's (IBA) in Mongolia and part of the East Asian Australasian Flyway protecting migratory water birds.
This for me is one of Mongolia's wildest, moodiest and most rugged of lakes. I am rather in love with it.
Khar Nuur is in Zavkhan Aimag which connects the Gobi Desert in the south with the western Khangai Mountain Range and the great lakes depression of the north west. It is unexpectedly beautiful. And off the beaten track.
The area surrounding Ulaan Tsutgalan was created by a series of volcanic eruptions (there are often different types of igneous rock lying on the surface – such as basalt and pumice stone which solidified from molten Magma after reaching the surface).
The 20-meter high waterfall is formed by a series of small streams and rivers including the Ulaan Gol. The plunge pool formed by the waterfall is a delightful swimming spot. It's popular, but there is enough to go around.
Khoton / Khurgan Nuur
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park in far western Mongolia can be divided into 2 regions, the Tavan Bogd Mountains in the northwest and the lakes area to the southeast. The lakes are fed by glacial melt and annual snow fall that flows into the Tsagaan Us Goland form the head waters of the Khovd River. There are three lakes - Khoton Nuur, Khurgan Nuur and Dayan Nuur. The western shore of Khoton Nuur, with the Chinese border providing a stunning backdrop is a particular favourite.
And. If you're a swimmer or 'to go swimming' was on your 2017 resolutions list but doing regular lengths at the local pool is becoming a little dull, why not consider joining us on our Wild Swimming Mongolia experience this June.
Nine days (June 9th - 17th). An opportunity for you to come and experience a little of what Mongolia has to offer. And an opportunity to swim and train with the Mongolian Triathlon Federation and to (in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson):
'Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.'
Interested? Please just email for details (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you're interested in Mongolia but without the wild swimming element then why not pop across to the Eternal Landscapes Mongolia website and see what we're offering for 2017.
And because it's always good to mention, for safety tips on swimming, look at the Outdoor Swimming Society website. As always, thanks for listening.
Judging from all the many and interesting things 36 year-old Australian photographer John Feely shared with us in the interview below, his trips to Mongolia must have been a real journey of discovery—of a remote place and a different culture (largely based on nomadism), as well as of his own cultural identity. The Outsider, the subjective reportage that brings together the images John took during his travels, mixes photos of Mongolia's stunning natural landscapes and portraits of the locals he lived in close contact with.
Hello John, thank you for this interview. What are your main interests as a photographer?
I am most interested in connectedness and relationships, specifically how transformational it is to encounter the world in a way that goes beyond what we know and want: we can reduce the distance between people by going beyond the comfort of what we know.
I don't think you can work with something and not its opposite. I guess this means I work with connectedness and disconnectedness, intimacy and isolation, trust and fear. A disconnect in my own life is what motivated me to explore how we connect with what is around us, so it was a really useful catalyst. I often experience this lack of dichotomy when making work. Photography is a great way to explore the space in between and how changeable it is. I guess this is why I love creating and looking at photography so much.
You can't expand your world view without challenging your existing one. This is why there always needs to be a certain vulnerability in the way I approach photography. As the world becomes more accessible and connected, this fact becomes increasingly important to recognize. I suppose this makes my way of documenting somewhat lyrical and recognizes that it is unique and incomplete.
I try to understand things by living with people as they live wherever possible. This close form of contact forges relationships and is the only way I can allow myself to share other people's ways.
Please introduce us to The Outsider.
The title The Outsider permeates what inspired or began this process as much as it does the experience and people in the work. It is the record of a journey prompted by a need to learn a different way of living, a need for spaciousness and for the first time in my life, providence. At the time it did not feel like I was simply starting a project—it was driven by personal need.
I randomly chose Western Mongolia off a map and flew there without any planning or research. I aspired to having minimal preconceptions so I could simply observe what was actually in front of me. This was at the heart of what I wanted to learn. I guess I wanted to be open to the fact that there was a wisdom out there beyond my own need to expect and want certain outcomes. I was in a space where I was willing to trust that. From moment to moment, the outcome was by definition unimaginable.
The Outsider also refers to a way of life in Western Mongolia. Providence seems to be more effortless and humbling in places where you are directly reminded that nature is what sustains us on this planet. Obviously this is true of all of us, but perhaps it is less apparent in other environments. This work also draws attention to Mongol's and Kazakh's ever changing relationship with modernization. It felt important to acknowledge the existence of these forces because they greatly effect all of us. The combination of these themes maybe suggest that trust and vulnerability are gateways to connection, and maybe even some sort of liberation. Whether that trust be placed in the ways of others, nature or anything beyond the realm of our own personal comfort and control I think this remains true. I felt like this was an important thing to share in these times that we live in.
For how long have you been in Mongolia?
As mentioned I chose to go there quite randomly. The first time I visited I stayed with a family for 3 months. The second time I had a limited window and stayed for 2 weeks. Since The Outsider was released I've since spent another 6 months in Mongolia and my interests in what I am doing there are shifting and evolving.
Tell us a bit about your encounters and the lifestyle of the people you met.
Mongolia is very customary when it comes to receiving visitors. As an outsider you feel very honored and considered. The country is so sparse that perhaps these customs came from necessity: visitors would often travel vast distances and need to stop for reprieve. This is still the case today. The locals are usually very proud of where they live and their families, so there is a great sense of pride when they share food, shelter and company with you.
The people I stayed with and I could not share language, so I just had to go with the flow. But to this day I still feel the absence of conversation enhanced our ability to relate to each other. Shared experiences bring people together: even though we didn't speak the same language, many of the tasks we completed together were important. Rounding up wild horses in the mountains, checking on baby eagles half way down cliff faces, herding livestock for 3 days with nomads and many other adventures were simply unimaginable. Even the fact that I wasn't particularly useful for some of these tasks did not seem to matter. When you live with people for a while you survive together things that go wrong too. Dealing with injuries, sickness, the loss of livestock and many other events are also weathered together.
Many personal encounters were difficult to begin with. The way people communicate through touch is incredibly positive and loving, and they treat you in the same way. I realize from growing up in a different place that I have been conditioned to initially be suspicious of such interactions. The people I stayed with have experienced so fewer human interactions in their lives—perhaps this is why they don't have the same conditioning. I'm sure there is a cultural element at play here also. At the risk of sounding repetitive, this too is a liberating thing to question within yourself. A few days later, the same interactions were fulfilling and allowed me to relate to others like I never had before.
Simple events like eating and drinking water from a nearby stream evoke the same initial resistance. In retrospect it is quite funny to have an aversion to drinking water that runs directly from an uninhabited icecap, and at the same time not have a problem with drinking from a treated city water plant.
People in Western Mongolia work hard, as I think many people that live off the land do. And as more technology and information about the world becomes available, some (but not all) families are starting to want something different for their children. They also believe they will be growing up in a very different world.
What surprised you the most about Mongolia?
As mentioned Mongols and Kazakhs I have stayed with live in a way that is less separated from the natural world than where I am from. How this has played out day to day often surprised me. They have a less anthropocentric view of the world that is practical and almost spiritual. This is true even in the city, possibly because of extreme weather conditions and because history features strongly in cultural ideals.
Mongols perceive many things as being 'in their blood', and are deeply and respectfully connected to their ancestry and family. There is a central belief that they are their ancestors, the same entity passed down through generational lines. All children are considered gods until they are 3 years old: the first kick from an unborn baby is when the soul enters the body and a baby is brought to life. This notion of a soul exists in all things and therefore everything is respected or revered. Even Mongols that live in the city visit a Shaman to learn more about themselves through the connection the Shaman has with place and the forces that govern it. I mention these points specifically because I believe they illustrate how ancestry, environment, divinity, resources and family are considered the same thing in this way of seeing. What is good for one is good for all of the others.
How these beliefs play out day to day and the choices they inform often surprise me because where I am from has a more anthropocentric view of the world. It's easy to picture this approach as a romantic way of living in a far away land, that is completely disconnected from our existence. However what is sometimes surprising is that it is essentially another way of approaching the same things we all navigate. As foreign modes of living are adapted more in Mongolia, these values and beliefs continue to serve an important purpose that perhaps offers solutions to problems in other parts of the world. This approach is a remarkably healthy way to perceive and interact with the world: you always belong to something great which promotes well being. I guess this is part of why I keep going back.
Did you have any specific references or sources of inspiration in mind while working on The Outsider?
I spent the year before the project creating a folder of photographs that I thought were the best in the world. The photographers were varied, but I spent a lot of time slowly refining and shaping this collection. In this era of complete image saturation I thought it was important to only study and see the best photography—a 'you are what you eat' kind of mentality. I think my inspiration was somewhere in the middle of all of these pictures. Editing them and exploring their indefinable qualities over and over. Eventually I felt like I could recognize certain ingredients that I valued or I believed contributed to what inspired me about the photograph. I often wondered what sort of life I needed to live to find this quality myself. So at this point I think I realized that my inspiration needed to be beyond the form of photography.
I brought 2 books with me on these trips. One was a Pema Chodron book, the other was a book of notes from a friend of mine, Lawrence Graziose. I used to read a few pages each morning before starting the day.
What have been the main influences on your photography?
I guess the first thing to mention is the form itself. I am constantly excited by the power of photography. I often prefer to look at photographs than watch films.
I was originally taught to communicate visually through a typography class. My lecturer was a brilliant practitioner and educator. Type automatically separates rhetoric and the use of the letterform itself, making it easy to see how more than one thing is always communicated and measured. This was a great way to learn to find a voice and tone in what I was creating.
Nan Goldin's life is still hugely inspirational to me. Definitely the immediateness of the work, but primarily she exemplifies that there is no such thing as an immersive approach to photography: you simply live your life and become as interested and immersed in it as you can. Also her idea of photography serving a necessary purpose in your life, and being okay with that.
Japanese photography also inspires me, specifically it's ability to be both dark and light or seemingly obscure but perfectly resolved. I think this relates to a cultural belief that there is life and death in everything, they cannot be separated. This recognition that all things live in this unresolved state is incredibly powerful to me.
Finally, Roger Ballen's ability to go into something dark that challenges us and the way we see the world is inspirational. I strongly believe in this almost Shamanistic approach to art.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary photographers?
Apart from the influences I have already mentioned, I love the work of Claudine Doury, Alex Majoli, Daisuke Yokota and many many others.
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