An evening in Mongolia
An evening in Mongolia
18 December 2018
The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival took on a Mongolian flavour with an immersive travel experience through country, complete with traditional food and vodka generously sponsored by the Cultural Envoy of Mongolia.
Introducing the Asia House audience to Mongolia through their travels was Dr Bumochir Dulam, a former television presenter of Mongol Television and a professor of anthropology at the National University of Mongolia, Tom Morgan, who runs the Mongol Rally and Mongol Derby, and travel writer Monisha Rajesh, who has experienced much of the Mongolian landscape through her time on the Trans-Mongolian Railway.
Monisha – who has been travel writing for six years – is the author of the upcoming book, Around The World in 80 Trains, which is being released in January 2019. She spent a significant amount of time on the Trans-Mongolian Railway, learning about a country she had previously heard little about, allowing the audience to see Mongolia through the eyes of someone who is completely new to the country.
Monisha said: “I spent a substantial amount of time looking out of the window at the whole of the country, which was quite an amazing experience for me, but also quite an eye-opening one.”
Like Monisha, Tom had never heard of Mongolia before he went there either. He set up the Mongol Rally in 2004, a horse race that runs between London and Mongolia and follows Genghis Khan’s ancient postal system route. Following this, in 2009, he launched the world’s longest and toughest horse race, the Mongol Derby. He told the Asia House audience how he sat down with historians and people who had ridden in the remnants of the postal system in order to replicate the experience as much as possible. The race now has 40 riders from all over the world and Tom and his team work with Mongolian herding families, as well as an additional 500 local staff, to make the event possible.
“The race is a celebration of Mongolian culture and history,” said Tom. “The horse is absolutely central to traditional Mongolian culture, and it’s been very well received.”
Meanwhile, Bumochir, who is originally from Mongolia, told the audience that he has visited all the provinces of Mongolia – mostly for work, rather than tourism. This meant that he had a unique perspective to present as a local, rather than a visitor. Having also had the chance to live abroad at different points in his life, Bumochir has noticed how fast his country changes from one day to another.
“Change happens really fast in Mongolia,” he said. “Those who haven’t been to Mongolia for a couple of days, when they return they can actually see [the change] – particularly in the capital city. There are lots of changes in the way people live. The population is getting younger. Mongolia has started becoming quite a modern, urban place.”
Watch the full event here
This event was held in partnership with the Cultural Envoy of Mongolia, as part of the 2018 Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival.