National Geographic : 2011 Oct
• to raise livestock, how to survive these tough winters," he said. e pity, says Baabar, is that they are also not t to compete in the city. All this comes at a time when Mongolia, com- munist until 1990, is seeking to reassert itself between the two powers next door, Russia and China, that have pushed it around for centuries. Nationalism---even xenophobia---is on the rise, and foreigners are increasingly blamed for Mon- golia's problems in the same breath as local and national politicians, who are widely considered, with justi cation, as deeply corrupt. Visiting Chinese businessmen, accused of enriching themselves at Mongolia's expense, no longer venture out a er dark on the streets of the capital for fear of being attacked by young guys in black leather channeling Genghis Khan, who is back in vogue as a symbol of Mongolian pride. Banned during Soviet times, images of Genghis are everywhere you look today, from vodka la- bels and playing cards to the colossal, 131-foot steel statue of the conqueror on horseback that rises from the steppe an hour east of UB to cast the mother of all dirty looks toward China. He's not the only one looking in that direc- tion. By many estimates, Mongolia is sitting on a trillion dollars' worth of recoverable coal, copper, and gold, much of it concentrated near the Chinese border around Oyu Tolgoi, or Tur- quoise Hill. ere Ivanhoe Mines, the Canadian mining giant, is tapping the world's largest unde- veloped copper and gold deposit in partnership with Rio Tinto, an Anglo-Australian company, and the Mongolian government, which holds a 34 percent share of the project, potentially add- ing billions of dollars to the national economy. How much of that will migrate 340 miles north and into the pockets of ordinary people such as Ochkhuu is an open question. Experts at the World Bank and the United Nations are urging Mongolia to invest that money in infra- structure, training, and growing the economy, although the current government, led by Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold, took a more direct approach, pledging to grant every man, woman, and child a payment of about $1,200 from the mining windfall. Ochkhuu doesn't believe he'll ever see that money. But in the meantime, he needs to work. At rst he tried his hand as an entrepreneur, having identi ed what he thought was a need in the community. He and a partner rented a room at a local hotel and then marketed it to ger dwellers, who lack running water, as a place to take a shower or a bath. He went door-to-door looking for customers. ere were very few tak- ers. Ochkhuu lost more than $200 on the deal, a sizable chunk of his savings. Now he's thinking of buying a used car and Making his rounds on a subzero day, Dorjsuren, at right, sells firewood and coal in the ger districts east of downtown but returns to the steppe near Altanbulag every summer to tend his livestock. "Mongolians always go back because we need this countryside," says Baabar. "In our hearts, we're all nomads."