It’s been 3 years since I’ve visited Mongolia due to COVID. A lot of things have changed. In the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, people seem to be busier and have more money. The cars are in great shape and everyone seems to own one. Even at Naraantuul, the black market, you can pay with a credit card or e-transfer – the days of carrying around large amounts of cash are almost gone. Restaurants, bars and trendy coffee shops flourish and supermarkets are experiencing skyrocketing prices because the country is landlocked. While one used to be able to make spontaneous appointments with the prime minister, today it becomes hard to find time with friends – the hustle and bustle is starting to feel like every other large city in the world.
Mongolia is landlocked and shares its borders with two neighbors. During COVID, borders were closed with China. They still have not fully opened yet. For a variety of reasons, China is not letting many goods in and even fewer goods out, which did not make our export of Mongolian gers any easier – if a nation wanted to strangle another, it would resort to similar tactics. We were forced to turn to Russia for the shipping of our precious dwellings. However, this neighbour’s president, who has everything in his power to help make the world a better place, has recently decided to invade his Western brothers.
This leaves us with limited solutions as a friend to Mongolia; the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky.” We will not be shipping our yurts by air but will have to come up with equally creative solutions – these unusual circumstances will force us to develop our offer yet again. To prevent last year’s crazy delays, we started stocking much earlier, but there was no way to prepare for a war. That being said, we are so grateful to have roofs over our heads and our hearts go out to the Ukrainians who have lost theirs. There will be more delays this year and we know our customers will understand the circumstances. We thank them warmly.
As the price of imported vegetables and other goods continues to increase, some predict severe inflation in Ulaanbaatar. As tough as it will be for the middle-class, who have just begun to enjoy Western ‘pleasures’, I believe that Mongolia will sustain itself thanks to the millenary nomadic culture and the extreme resilience and independence of the Mongolian people.