Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Orkut and Mongolians

So I have finally managed to get an account with orkut, which used to be exclusive invite-only forum. And I have plunged into zealously, hoping to start up some serious discussions on Mongolia, perhaps get updates from Mongolians in the home land.

And what did I discover? The biggest Mongolian community on orkut has around 210 members, of which perhaps less than 20 are actual Mongolians. The rest are from all over the world, mainly India, and the moderator and owner of the community is a Swede.

This probably explains why not many people know of Mongolia, and why those who have heard of Mongolia, think we all live in Gers and ride horses. Granted who wants to see people walking down dusty roads of Ulaanbaatar on National Geographic, which leads to a very biased view of Mongolia. Well, my point is Mongolians now need to be better marketers and promoters. Shameless self-promoters.

We have the disadvantage of being landlocked between 2 giants, China and Russia. We do not have the advantage of being a transit / port city for businesses and tourists, which I believe has been a blessing for Singapore. As they say in business "Location, Location, Location". If you're a foreigner and you're in Singapore, you could be just stopping by a coupla days on your way elsewhere in Asia or to Australia, you could just be coming down from a neighbouring country for a business meeting etc. If however, you are in Mongolia, well you really wanted to be there. It had to be your final destination.

In many ways, this isolation has saved the natural resources in Mongolia for quite some time, as well as the local culture. But this is all changing now. Progress is fast. Mongolia is rich in minerals, and mining companies are a dime a dozen now. But I believe if we elect an environmentally-conscious government into place and start promoting eco-tourism (we have a few dozen mammalian species exclusive to Mongolia, including the Takhi, the only remaining wild horse in the world), we may still have a chance to retain the natural beauty, while still ensuring increased revenue from tourism.

With that, Imma finish up my post. Below is a photo taken by a guy called Tengis, a Mongolian student, and posted to flickr. This is called the Yast Melkhii Had or Turtle Rock. Half-way up it has a shallow cave, in which a few monks, according to history, hid from their Communist persecutors in the 30s and lived for a few months.

If you ever visit Ulaanbaatar, this would be one of the nearest places to visit. It is just outside of the city and on the way to Terelj resort.