Thanks to (the) mostly untapped mineral wealth, analysts from Eurasia Capital and Renaissance Capital predict Mongolia will be the fastest-growing economy of the next decade (the IMF predicts the fourth-fastest). Elbegdorj is intent on using this resource wealth to help develop his country, still one of the poorer nations in the world.Full article here
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
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.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
So make sure you get yourself a copy from your nearest magazine stand at Nomin and other supermarkets.
For those living abroad, the digital editions of 976's current and back issues are available at GoGo's online bookshop. Here's a direct link.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Mongolian Mining Corp, Mongolia's largest privately-held domestic producer and exporter of coking coal, raised $650 million by pricing its Hong Kong initial public offering at the middle of an indicative range. [Source]
The company is partly owned by MCS Holding of Mongolia and Kerry Group of Hong Kong.
Watch an interview with Mr.Odjargal, the exec. director of MMC:
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Mongolian fashion designer Tsolmandakh Munkhuu picked up the "Public Prize" a month or so ago at the annual Hyeres Festival of Photography and Fashion. I can't find much information on her, apart from few bits and pieces from other blogs: she is 30, apparently graduated from Atelier Chardon Savard, and lives and works in Paris. Nevertheless, it's awesome to see someone getting a break in a creative industry on a world stage. And I just love the detail on those clothes, and the traditional Mongolian looking shoulder parts on the dresses are just superb! And it's all black! BLACK! How can anyone not love it?
Hyeres Festival is run since 1985, and Viktor & Rolf got their break through Hyeres in 1993.
(sourced from http://musingsofbuffyleigh.blogspot.com/2010/05/tsolmandakh-munkhuu.html, http://gunuhaanduguilan.blogspot.com/2010/05/hyeres.html, http://fashionmongolia.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-post_09.html)
My friend Lisa emailed me about this. Apparently, they're hiring out a luxury ger at the annual Peats Ridge Festival this year. It is located at Glenworth Valley, which is about 2 hours drive up north from Sydney, and if I'm correct it goes for 4-5 days. It's a sustainable arts and music festival that draws thousands of people each year, and big name bands, as well as local and international visual artists. This year they have around 120 acts, and multitude of interactive installations, including one 20 metre long psychedelic tunnel that you're invited to paint on (for those who're on acid and mushroom trips, I assume). They are so sustainable that they use 100% renewable energy to power the event, using biodiesel fuel, which is just vegetable oil and animal fat, and solar power of course. For more info go to the festival website at http://www.peatsridgefestival.com.au
The Ger accommodation will cost you a whopping $5,000 for 5 days, though. It has 12 volt solar power system, a double futon bed, as well as a mongolian couch, apparently, and sleeps 3 people. They obviously don't wanna do it the original way of sleeping an entire family of 5, AND guests, hehe, but then again they wouldn't be able to ask 5 G's if they let a horde of people have it their way, now would they? To check full specs, and book, click here. They also have teepees and tents on offer as well.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Thanks to my procrastination I've lost my custom AsianGypsy.net domain name. I think I'll stick to the blogspot.com URL for the time being. Any changes will be updated soon enough.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
See I started writing about advertising in my first draft for this post. Then I thought it reeked of pretension and absolute boredom, which it did, so I procrastinated for a while until I could figure out a suitable topic for meself. And then it dawned on me, on a fine autumn day, walking with my shoes covered in dust and dirt from road works invading UB city: procrastination. What is the nomadic identity? It is procrastination distilled. It’s the subtle and not-so-subtle forms of procrastination hand-selected and distilled into a national identity by us, Mongolians. There are examples to illustrate this on any given day, if you will simply take a short walk down a UB street. It is autumn, and after a summer of Naadam festivals around the country, countryside vacations and general sunny lethargy, Mongolians are back to work fixing the roads and pathways, constructing office towers and doing 5 different things at work which they could’ve perhaps done a few months before. I may be exaggerating, as procrastination is a human thing, I believe. But every culture has unique aspects and cultural traits more pronounced than in other cultures, something that they do more often and/or are better at than others.
We are better at our mañanas than most other cultural stereotypes. Once one starts thinking about these trivial what-you-might-even-call-facts, the trail of thoughts leads eventually to its root. What is the underlying cause, reason for our tendency to procrastinate? And that is, we’ve had it so easy over the centuries. I am not talking about the glory days of the Mongol empire. It’s very simple: we never had to dig for food. We never had to plant our food, seed, water, fertilize and harvest. Our food can walk on four legs. It can feed itself during most seasons. All we had to do over the centuries is to make sure it didn’t run away or get eaten by wolves and other predators or someone else for that matter, and make sure it had enough feed for the winter. Of course the nomads were and still are at the mercy of the weather (e.g. last winter). But climate disasters strike everyone around the world, including farmers and herders.
Then I started thinking about a theory about farming societies my friend Dashka once proposed during a whiskey-fuelled night in the blistering heat of Singapore. He theorized, drunkenly but very convincingly, that Mongolians never went hungry. So long as there was meat, we were good. Whenever we lacked something, we attacked farming villages to the south, i.e. China, which back then was not China but just scattered farming villages south of the Gobi. The Mongols would come take what they needed, women, clothes, gold etc. Perhaps even some herbs and spices, one would hope. And clear off back to the arid and unfarmable country of theirs over the sand dunes of Gobi before the state troopers arrived. Who would want to chase them barbarians over the sand dunes into the middle of nowhere. And so it went. Meanwhile, the farmers were busy digging the ground, discovering and cataloguing plants to understand which types one could eat, and which ones to avoid. Dashka’s theory was that it was famine, hunger and desperation that drove these farmers to discover various plants, to discover what could be used for food and for medicine. During which time, we, Mongolians, were busy discovering more about our tavan hoshuu mal, i.e. the five-headed beast made up of the camel, sheep, cow, goat and horse. We were busy thinking up hundreds of words to describe their colors and anatomical structures.
All very interesting. So the conclusion one would logically reach is that we Mongolians were never hungry nor desperate enough to progress beyond our primal laziness, that comfortably lethargic state of tomorrow-forevers and enjoying the blissful weather while it lasts in our unpredictable climate full of surprises and shocks. BUT not really. There have been desperate times. The democratic revolution, July 1st etc, one can think of many.So are we just a bunch of really chilled-out drug-free but alcohol-fuelled stoners? Makes no sense whatsoever. And as I think these enlightened thoughts, I reach the lift doors of Grand Plaza and find, to my frustration and dread, the lift buttons cold and unresponsive to my fingers. 12 storeys to climb at 8pm. What is the mentality and identity that lead one to build a 15-storey building and turn off the lifts in the evenings? Sadism? Or just plain don’t-give-a-shitism?
[This blog post will appear, probably in an edited format in the upcoming English/Mongolian issue of 976 magazine.]