It seems our last post on Mongolia touched a nerve with some of our friends and readers.
Before addressing the reasons for that, let’s step back and look at our past views on Mongolia.
In August of 2010 I wrote a post titled: “Mongolia – The New Asian Tiger“.
Dozens of positive posts later, we followed with a Special Report focusing on the country, and then continued to write even more. Consequently, some readers accused us of being one-sided in our reporting. Did we actually believe it was all unicorns and rainbows on the Steppe? Not a chance!
Chris and I are anything but naive when it comes to investing and doing business in the frontier markets.
However, we wanted to tell the Mongolia story by highlighting the positive effects capitalism has had on the country, and get other frontier market investors excited about the myriad opportunities we saw.
We’ve interviewed quite a few entrepreneurs and professionals who have made Mongolia their singular focus. These men and women are a cut above in our opinion. It takes a VERY special person to succeed there. I don’t mean just the expats either…even Mongolian nationals face substantial challenges in their own country.
After spending a month on the ground, living with locals (no, there was no hotel or fancy “expat compound” for the majority of my time there), I met with all of the people we’ve interviewed herein, plus a bunch of new contacts. We formed some opinions and also made new observations.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t share these with you…the good, the bad, and yes, there’s always the ugly! Believe it or not (even we don’t sometimes!), a few of our readers actually changed their career paths and left the safety of their “jobs” and country to blaze a trail to Mongolia! Therefore, we MAINTAIN a responsibility to be brutally honest!
Several of these new transplants hunted us down the day we got there, presumably to either strangle us, or simply meet the two lunatics who helped launch them onto their crazy new path. Thankfully, they were all satisfied with their decisions! Phew!! There were no strangulations, profanity-ridden rants or otherwise.
That is until our last post, “Mongolia – It’s a Wrap!“
Chris and I call it like we see it. You either appreciate that about us or you don’t.
The post touched, rather graphically, on one aspect of the “other side” of Mongolia. A side that, as Chris pointed out, is shared by many of the CIS countries. I won’t repeat herein, as you can go and read it for yourself.
In reviewing what we had written (100% factual, by the way), we came to the conclusion that the issues might have come from the context more than the content. Chalk it up to a month of cold showers, 48-hours of plane flights, unfamiliar accommodations and near asphyxiation, perhaps…who knows?
We did not plan to offend anyone, especially our Mongolian friends, who helped us greatly on the ground and made our Meet Up possible!
After our month in the country, our view of Mongolia has NOT changed. We still firmly believe it is one of, if not the, single best places to invest in to make multiples on your money over the next 5-7 years.
The reality that investors need to understand is that Mongolia has been a very poor, very overlooked country for a long time. The Soviet influence, while it provided some measurable benefits for Mongolia’s people, has left many scars that have yet to heal. We didn’t intend to open those, just acknowledge they are a reality and something for our highly-motivated readers to take note of.
This same story has played out throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Walking the streets of Ulanbaataar you will see some who obviously long for the “good ole days” of socialism…but they are clearly outnumbered by those who are fighting hard for a better life.
Overall we found Mongolians to be helpful, courteous and intelligent. They had a very thorough understanding of the world outside of their borders, despite being rather isolated and land-locked between two rather imposing neighbors.
The average man on the street wants to better his situation. In more than one instance I found myself teaching English to my cab driver. One guy actually offered to discount my cab ride on a sliding scale as I taught him more phrases! Another was on her 2 week vacation from her bank job, taking fares for extra money. She had me drill her with questions during our 30-minute cab ride so she could practice for an upcoming job interview.
These are proud, strong, hearty people who have a true desire to assert themselves and retake their place in the world. We fully support them, and we know instinctively that “This will be the Richest Place in the World Per Capita in 10 Years”.
Mongolia is rising from the ashes and reasserting its unique and fascinating identity. It truly is like no other place I’ve ever been.
If you agree, great…if not, there are other places we like (Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Libya, Fiji…), and we’ll be talking about those too, don’t worry.
Over the next few months we’ll be bringing you more Mongolia stories from our partner Scott, who has decided to extend his stay and really get to know the place. We can’t wait to hear about the opportunities he discovers, and the people he’ll end up meeting.
Meanwhile, Chris and I are back to our normal, crazy travel schedule. He’s over in Laos right now. I’m back in Thailand gearing up for another trip to S. America, where I’ll be passing through Chile, Brazil and Uruguay before heading back to SE Asia to join Chris in Myanmar.
If you’re a member of our CPAN service you’ll get first dibs on the research, opportunities and information that the three of us dig up. There are still a few spaces left, but they’re going fast.
“With Heaven’s aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you.” – Chinggis Khan