Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rumors of Starbucks & McDonalds opening in Mongolia

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There are unconfirmed rumors of Starbucks opening a branch or five in Ulaanbaatar, along with that of McDonalds setting up shop. Starbucks. McDonalds. The modern barometers of globalization and international recognition of a country as one worth its space on the map. Unfortunately. But amidst all the hoohahs, "god-forbid"s, and the apparent inevitability of a cultural apocalypse brought on by the grease and grind of the McBucks invasion, I find myself wondering at their significance. Doomsday prophets may disagree, but the invasion of the greasy burger and the bland overpriced java will not spell the end of nomadism.

After all, the hamburger aspiration has been in Mongolia for some time, with the Big Burger joints in UB city, MonDonald spinoffs and I swear I saw a small wooden trailer in the middle of Khovd city square with a McDonalds logo on it. I am not your regular burgerite, but I admit, without any shame, to enjoying the occasional grease-monster, whether it be McDonalds, Big Burger or the gigantic mountains they serve at Granville's. Coz when you're hungover, sometimes you. just. got. to. As for Starbucks, I personally don't care much for their bland brew. When desperate and caffeine-deprived, I will drink it and complain about it, but it's never my first choice.

But here in UB, there are plenty of caffeine vendors to choose from. And often the smaller local cafes are much better at their own mixture of caffeine and water than Starbucks' standard brown water. My point is, the caffeine and burger invasion has already happened to Mongolia. Perhaps some see McDonalds and Starbucks reportedly and rumoredly setting up shop in Mongolia as THE sign of Mongolia's downfall as the exotic nomadic anachronism, but I am not worried about them. I AM, however, worried about the downfall of my favourite local cafes and deterioration in the coffee standard.

And before Louis Vuitton manages to invade the countryside with their herder-with-an-LV-bag posters designed to destroy the nomadic way of life, or before McDonalds and Starbucks shove caffeine-soaked burgers down our herders' throats, they face a formidable adversary: Mongolians, who might just beat them to the punch by destroying the pastures in the (black and yellow) gold rush, leaving the herds to feed on blended coffee beans and sesame-seeds of burger buns.

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