Anarres 2 cooperative community

June 20, 2012

Visit to Mongolia?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 8:59 am

I’m seriously thinking about visiting Mongolia in late August or September (when night temperatures approach freezing, but less rain). Routes under consideration are ferry to Vladivostok (from Japan), then train to Ulaan Bataar (much slower, more eco, cheaper, need Russian visa) OR ferry to Busan, train to Seoul, plane to UB (much cheaper than flying from Japan). Or we can just meet in UB (give or take a few days), where you can easily buy almost anything. Motorcycles can be rented for 30 euros a day (horses are more eco, but distances are long and I hear the horses are hard to deal with, esp. at night). Probably easiest to stay in ger camps at about $30 a night (food included). We probably need to hire an English speaking guide at about $40 a day, too. We can scout locations, talk to the locals about our plan (I have a Green contact, but haven’t been able to link up with the Democratic Socialists), and just generally check the place out. I’d also like to do some sightseeing in UB, and visit some temples. Anyone interested in this kind of expedition?

Why Mongolia? Well, as I’ve mentioned, land outside the cities is mostly unowned by anyone, but used freely by nomads with their herds. You can set up camp out in the boonies and you don’t have to buy the land (so it seems), but don’t be surprised if you are suddenly surrounded by goats. The cost of living is low. It’s one of the few countries in Asia that has abolished the death penalty. It has experienced both Leninism and capitalism (and both have been tragic for the people there – police state vs. poverty and social disintegration) so perhaps they might be open to other ideas. It’s a functioning democracy (the old Marxists and the new Libertarians battle it out in elections, and the government changes hands regularly). There seem to be opportunities not only for cooperative businesses, but also to help out the local people, most of whose lives are tough. However, the people are reportedly very friendly. Downsides – the languages spoken are Mongolian and Russian. Very few people speak English. There is no national health insurance (yet), but health care is inexpensive. Food is inexpensive, but mostly meat, unpasteurized dairy products (mostly non-cow), and noodles. It’s far away and expensive to get to. It has scary neighbors (Russia and China). It’s very, very cold in the winter, which is long. In the spring they have terrible dust storms. Did I mention there are few paved roads?

But due to the mostly untapped mineral wealth, now there are lots of Westerners there looking to make a buck (and a fair number of aid workers). This means there is a little more exposure to English and a lot more Western style food options than there used to be. You can get any kind of food in UB, from pizza to salads to vegetarian to Indian.

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