5 common MISPERCEPTIONS about Mongolia

Journalist A.Odontuya

2016-12-01 09:52 GMT+8

How well do you know about Mongolia? People who never visited Mongolia think that we still live in a ger (national dwelling) and ride horse to their school or job. However, the country with the population of only 3 million and 60 thousand, according to the 2015 data, has been developing rapidly with new additions such as Shangri-La Hotel, iMax movie theatre, Porsche showroom and Louis Vuitton brand store at its capital city, the Ulaanbaatar which is home to about 1 million and 300 hundred people.  

Geographically, Mongolia is located in the North-East Asia bordering China with 4.673 km in the south and Russian Federation with 3485 km in the north. The country is located on average altitude of 1580 meters above the sea level.

We at GoGo Mongolia pointed out the common misperceptions about the country and tried to deliver you the truth. 

1. MONGOLIANS STILL LIVE IN A GER (TRADITIONAL DWELLING) TODAY

Yes, we do and we don't as well. A ger is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads. Stove is placed in the middle of the ger for heating and cooking. 

However today almost half of the population live in apartments and houses. People prefer houses than ger in the countryside too. Hence most tourist camps operating in Mongolia offer ger housing to visitors, enabling the guest to watch the sky through its roof window. 

2. MONGOLIANS RIDE HORSE AS A TRANSPORTATION

The truth is we do not ride horse often. Even herders ride motorcycle or vehicles in the countryside instead of horse nowadays. However, it is easy to find a horse in Mongolia while tourist companies organize horse treks regularly. Moreover, a horse is a sacred animal, and Mongols have a variety of spiritual beliefs regarding them.

Also, the mare's milk is processed into the national beverage, "airag".  

In Mongolia, each horseman selects the best horse from their herd and takes it to the race during the Naadam festival. Horse racing is one of the "three manly sports". Mongolian races are long, up to 30 km, and can involve thousands of horses. 

3. MONGOLIA IS THE LEAST VEGAN PLACE IN THE WORLD 

Mongolia is definitely the country for meat lovers. We eat meat around the year as we have harsh weathers which had affected the traditional diet. Mongols mainly eat beef, mutton, horse meat and goat meat. It is popular to eat horse meat during the extremely cold Mongolian winter as the meat serves more calories which help the body to keep warm.

However, Mongols prefer not to eat meat during the summer. If you visit herder family, you will notice that they eat dinner at around 5 p.m to 6 p.m and drink yogurt or boiled milk before they go to sleep. Meat is mostly cooked or used in soups. Spices and vegetables are not served often in the nomadic family. 

In recent years, families living in cities realize that eating too much meat is unhealthy especially for those who are not working outdoors. 

Therefore the food and meal serving in the countryside and city are quite different. Modern families in cities focus on healthy food by eating different types of vegetables and vegan food. You can find all vegetables from every store of UB city, while there are plenty of vegan restaurants which have really good choices in a country of meat-lovers. 

4. MONGOLIA IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO TRAVEL  

Absolutely no! The truth is that Mongolia is a lot safer than many other places that people travel, if you don't do anything silly. The only thing you should beware is pick pockets when you walking in the busy streets of Ulaanbaatar city. Mongolians are usually curious about foreigners and love trying to communicate with you, even if they can’t speak English.

Internationally acclaimed superstar actress Julia Roberts visited Mongolia in 1999

5. MONGOLIA IS PART OF CHINA  

The truth is that Mongolia is not part of both China and Russia. Mongolia is a landlocked sovereign state in Central Asia and proudly has its own language, culture, currency, parliament, and president. 

In the 16th century, Tibetan Buddhism began to spread in Mongolia, being further led by the Manchu-founded Qing dynasty, which absorbed the country in the 17th century. By the early 1900s, almost one-third of the adult male population were Buddhist monks. After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence from the Qing dynasty, and in 1921 established de facto independence from the Republic of China. Shortly thereafter, the country came under the control of the Soviet Union, which had aided its independence from China. On November 26, 1924, Mongolia declared itself as an independent country with the adoption of its first constitution. Mongolia has never been part of China and it will. 

After the anti-Communist revolutions of 1989, Mongolia conducted its own peaceful democratic revolution in early 1990. This led to a multi-party system, a new constitution of 1992, and transition to a market economy. 

Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj at the ASEM 2016 meeting

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