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Mongolia October 2011

Given that I had met Dave and he had basically put the shits up me, then I was not expecting much more from Mongolia other than cat fights, unprovoked attacks and perhaps a horse if I was lucky. What I soon realised of course that UB is a city that is like any other Central Asian City, it is struggling to cope with the change and the development, combine this with the inability to expand the city due to its geographic limitations, the city is simply becoming more dense. There now exists in Ulaanbaatar Ger Ghettos. Every city has its no go areas but none of them can say that those Ghettos are made entirely of Nomads where their traditions are still practiced but only in addition with the vodka drinking and the petty crimes that the drinking encourages.

Once you get outside of Ulaanbaatar then you see how the country really works. There are very few paved roads in Mongolia. If you were to look at the country, draw a cross, where the two lines meet, that is UB, the 4 lines out of UB are the only roads in Mongolia. To travel in Mongolia you need a Jeep or a Horse and a GPS unit. There are no road signs, there are just dirt tracks that lead to places that you only know about if you are a native to this country. These ‘roads’ take you over volcanic rocks, through forests, over mountains, through lakes, rivers and streams, its no wonder that the Horse is still the most used mode of transport in Mongolia. Mongolia really is the last place on earth where the people are genuinely free on their own land.

Mongolia has about 450,000 tourists per year, compare that to Paris alone, which has 27 million, that is exactly 60 times more tourists in a place that is over 20,000 times smaller than the whole of Mongolia. In a word, Mongolia is vast and is lucky enough to have been bypassed by the overwhelming tourist movement.

Unfortunately though, business is booming, mining is big in Mongolia, they are rich of Copper, Uranium, and Gold, they have one of the biggest copper mines on the planet and they also believe that the Gobi Desert holds billions of tonnes more of the precious metal. Some Mongolians have become very rich very quickly, and with all of this wealth comes development, and with development comes roads, factories, jobs, careers and alternative existences to the nomadic life. Now what I am not saying is that business should be put aside to preserve the unique traditions of the Mongolian nomads, but if you compare Inner Mongolia with Outer Mongolia then you are able to see a clear distinction. With Inner Mongolia lying within China there are only a handful of families living like their former counterparts over the border. Land has been flattened and you get an eerie feeling as you pass through the province. Some cities have even been built, but today there are no residents, ghost towns waiting for a gust of Chinese to inhabit and occupy.

Soon enough in Outer Mongolia business will come, Mongolians will move out of their Gers, they will trade in the Horse for the Hummer and they will get a place in the city.

But since this is all in future tense, lets hope that when it does come that the balance is right, and that nomadic existence is preserved and not just in a fabricated ‘nomadic’ town for tourists to gaze on and take photographs.

Forget about the city Ulaanbaatar, it’s a dump, get out into the vast open outback on a horse but don’t fall off, you’re a long way from any help…

Night time in outermongolia
My mongolian Family
Shamanic Site, sacrifice of a Foal
me and my marra
It isnt a Ger if it doesnt have Sky TV
Camel Ride....
Drinking Fermented Horse Milk, yum...
and he was a little bastard....

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 06:29 Archived in Mongolia Tagged mining mongolia

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