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Living in Mongolia...
It's a Matter of Survival

Congratulations. Now you're living in Mongolia, a place you never thought you'd visit. But now you're committed to staying for a while. And surprise, surprise, it's not easy.

The language is impossible. The traffic is insane. It's hard to find a decent place to live or figure out where to buy things. Food? Service? Don't even ask.

I'll bet my left nut that when you were back home you Googled to find out what it's like to live here. And I know what you found: crap. Sure, there are some decent nuggets of information out there. If you want tourist information, you'll find plenty. But there's NOTHING that provides the information that an expat needs when he finds himself in this freaky place.

That's about to change. If you found THIS site, it already has.

Surviving-Mongolia.com provides information expats need when they move to Mongolia. Like finding a decent place to live, knowing where to go for a good meal, or dealing with violent drunks. Don't expect all this information to be ready right now. I'm growing the site slowly (I have a full-time job and a complicated girlfriend situation), but what I put in here is the real deal. You won't find better information about living in Mongolia.

Where do I get this info? Mostly from first-hand experience. I lived in Ulaanbaatar for three years. Now I live in China, but I come here often enough to keep on top of things. I also have a lot of friends–both foreigners and Mongolians–who keep me supplied with fresh information.

A final word. Many expats think living here is pretty awful. Maybe it is. But there are a lot of good things about it, and it's up to you to find them. If you'd rather spend a few years complaining instead of living, be my guest. My advice is to quit your bitching and make the most out of your time here.

This site will help you do that. Who knows, you might even like it.



Surviving Mongolia Announcements
Read the latest news about living in Mongolia and developments on the Surviving-Mongolia.com Web site.

Top Ten Mongolia Survival Tips
Survival tips to help you get through your first few days in Mongolia.

Hotels in Mongolia: when the best just isn't good enough.
Hotels in Mongolia reviewed first-hand by a picky business traveller. None of them meet international standards, so manage your expectations. Direct links to hotel Web sites where available.




Latest Articles

The Adaptec Game Bridge Does Its Job Well, and is Inexpensive to Boot!

I’m a big video gamer, but I’m constantly on the go going back and forth from home and college. It was a real pain in the neck to be deeply involved in a game, but then have to go home for a school break. I could bring my ultrawide monitor and the console, but that was just really too much of a hassle. Thats when I found the Adaptec Game Bridge. The Adaptec Game Bridge is a product that allows you to play the PS2, Gamecube, Dreamcast, XBox, or any video game console with the red/yellow/white AV cords on your computer monitor. In addition, you can also take direct feed screen shots and great quality videos of the game. This allowed me to bring my slimline PS2 with me and play it on my laptop, allowing me to play PS2 while on the go.
The Adaptec Game Bridge is really everything I could have asked for. Its system requirements are very low – my laptop is over 4 years old and the Game Bridge runs like a dream on it! Set up is a breeze, it plugs right in to your USB 2.0 port and comes with an installation CD with all the necessary drivers and programs, it won’t take more then 15 minutes to get it all set up. The program it comes packed with is not a memory hog at all, it runs with no lag – except that caused by the laptops LCD screen refresh rate, which has nothing to do with the Game Bridge. The picture it provides is very clear, and can even run in S-Video mode for enhanced graphics, should you have the S-Video cord. The Adaptec Game Bridge is also very tiny and very portable, its about the size of a Zippo lighter, maybe a bit bigger. This makes it especially easy to bring around with you, to a friends house or anywhere really. It also comes with a really nice carrying pouch. Also, it can take videos and screenshots of the games you are playing. I didn’t really plan on using this feature often, but have ended up using it a lot more then I thought I would! Its great to be able to record videos of your top scores on video games and then show it off to friends later. The best thing about the Adaptec Game Bridge is, without a doubt, its incredibly affordable price. I got my Game Bridge for about $20, plus shipping. I looked at other capture cards and the prices were all $50 or more!

The one thing that may disappoint about the Game Bridge is that it does not play cable television. However, I got it primarily for playing video games, so that doesn’t detract any points from me. If you are in a similar situation where you travel a lot but want to be able to keep up with your gaming, or even if you can’t afford a TV at the moment, I would whole heartedly recommend the Adaptec Game Bridge – you won’t be disappointed!

Traveling By Air Just Became Easier

With the introduction of airport concierge and fast track services, going to the airport and hopping onto your flight has never been simpler. Not only that, if you go for the right VIP services, traveling can actually be pleasant and something that you look forward to doing.

These airport VIP services take you away from all the crowds and the hassles. They can take care of your luggage, tickets, passport control, and customs. In fact, the most important thing that these companies bring to the table is that you won’t have to deal with the problems that the average traveler has to deal with.

Some might consider it a waste of money since airfare, and traveling in general, isn’t cheap to being with. However, for those of you that have more money and less time to waste, then a VIP service is right up your alley.

Next time you’re getting ready to travel abroad, take into consideration how tough it is to deal with foreign airports and services and think twice about whether or not you want to deal with pain, or choose the easier route.

Where is There Not a Walmart Nowadays?

Like the title says, is there anywhere that Walmart won’t go?

Obviously having a Walmart in your area has it advantages, but it also has it’s disadvantages.

On one hand you have a somewhat safe place to shop 24/7 that has probably the lowest prices in general. The prices thing is questionable when you get used to barters and going to open markets. But for things outside of food or produce, it’s pretty much impossible to beat Walmart’s prices. On top of that, being in a less popular country like Mongolia makes it even harder to beat Walmart’s prices. Walmart is also so globally popular that there are many sites where you can find a “Walmart near me

On the other hand, Walmart represents the head of the industrial takeover. You’ve heard the stories of Walmart moving into new towns or areas and killing off the small businesses because the small businesses can’t afford to compete with Walmart’s prices. Also, even though Walmart is considered safe, that doesn’t mean that shopping there is pleasant. And to be fair, if I were getting paid the same wage that Walmart workers get then I’d probably be a lazy employee as well.

What’s your experience like with Walmart? Positive? Negative? I want to hear from you. Maybe with the growth of Amazon, they will eventually take over Walmart, thus leaving some room for local businesses to breath and earn a living.

There are also a huge amount of towns or areas that ban large corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart from just rolling in and taking over. Although many would argue that bans like that go against the grain of capitalism, sometimes the  preservation of a town’s economy is more important.

Loafers or Moccasins?

To the unacquainted, moccasins and loafers are probably considered the same thing. However, to the trained eye these shoes have considerable differences that set them apart from one another. For those of you that are trying to figure out the difference between moccasins and loafers, look no further. We will go over the more noticeable differences, as well as how these shoes are supposed to be worn.

The first difference is also the easiest to notice, which is whether or not there are laces. Loafers do not have laces and moccasins are the ones that do have laces, even though the laces are pretty much just for decoration. Moccasins are widely available for everyone, even kids. Check out a site like kutefeet.com to see more examples of what moccasins can look like.

The second major difference is the use of different materials. Loafers are meant to be more of a classy, dress-up type of shoe, so they are made of leather for the most part. Moccasins on the other hand typically are composed of suede or a synthetic material. Also, it’s common to see moccasins consisting of just 1 piece of material, whereas loafers will have several different pieces.

The third difference isn’t as prominent at first glance, but with a side view you will be able to see it. Although both are slip-on shoes, moccasins generally flat-soled while loafers usually sport some sort of heel.

Remember that it’s acceptable to wear both without socks. Another option if you prefer socks is to go for the no-show socks. At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference, but it’s still good to know the general rules.

Having Family Over From America

The sad thing about living in Mongolia is that I hardly get to see my family back home in America! That’s okay, however, because when they do visit, they will have plenty to do. That is because I have prepared a ton of fun family things to do for both the kids and my parents. And the best part is it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or hot or snowy or whatever – I have got plans that are good for both the indoors or the outdoors.

If the family decides to stay indoors, then I can give them a tour of my indoor garden. I have a Venus Flytrap on my counter top, a mini palms plant in my living room, and the most exciting plants – a Dendrobium and a few Phaeleonopsis Orchids are lined up neatly in the hallway. You’d be surprised at how many fun activities there are involving plants. I can show the kids how to water them properly, and the cool things you can feed the Venus Flytrap.

If we decide to go outdoors, then there are a few great things: I definitely want to take everyone to see the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park – it is certainly a sight to see! After that, and depending on the weather, it would be great to check out the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, followed by the Erdene Zuu Monastery. These places would be an incredible shot of culture for any family with kids to visit during their trip to Mongolia. I can’t wait to see everyone!

Selecting a Memory Foam Mattress

If you’ve been waking up with either a sore back or aching shoulders, then it’s likely time to search for a new mattress. Below are some tips to help you decipher online mattress reviews and choose the right mattress for your needs.

  1. Find one that fits your bed. Memory foam mattresses usually come in the basic bed sizes, so this should be the first step in your hunt since it will quickly narrow down your search.
  2. Choose a foam type that best fits your needs. This decision will be one of the toughest of them all. The different types of foam will lead to different types of comfort. Traditional memory foam is the most popular, but works up heat easily. If you get too hot for comfort while sleeping, then a gel memory foam would work best for you. There is also a latex memory foam for those that want a natural choice, that also feels similar to the other foams.
  3. Pick a foam density. While doing your research you will find that choosing the right density typically has to do with how you prefer to sleep. Sleeping on your side will require less dense foam, in order to better contour to your figure. If you sleep on your stomach or back, then you need denser foam to support your back.
  4. Choose a thickness. Since memory foam is so supportive, you really only utilize the top three or four inches of the mattress. Only if you go for low density should you opt for thicker foam, since you will sink into the mattress more.
  5. Find a mattress top. This is the last step, and is similar to choosing your type of foam. Essentially, you want to go for soft tops like a pillow top if you are a side sleeper, and a firmer top like a euro top if you sleep on your back or belly.

 

Choosing the Right Limo Service

While making the choice is go for a limo is typically easy, the difficulty of actually choosing a service and getting your appointment booked is a whole different beast. There are so many companies out there, and an even larger selection of different cars, picking the right one is actually a tall task. The key to this all is getting started as soon as possible and do your homework, like searching for “limo service near me

First step is to always ask around for recommendations or look online for reviews or testimonials. Most reviews are pretty unbiased so you should have a better idea of what to expect with each company.

Next you need to consider how long they have been in business for. Experience and reliability are very important when it comes to transportation and meeting deadlines.

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection you can check out the fleet of the various companies. Most will have a wide selection to choose from, and sometimes making a trip to see in person will give you the best idea of what will fit your needs.

From there, all you need to do is find out about the price and any surcharges that need to be covered. Usually there are layers of different charges that pile upon the base rate.

Lastly, and some would consider this optional, you could check to make sure all of the limo company’s certifications and insurance are legit. Mainly you want to check for liability insurance, see if the drivers are trained, and if the vehicles are DOT inspected and DPU approved.

Is the Red Copper Pan All Hype?

Anyone that has watched even the slightest amount of cooking shows on TV has probably seen commercials for the Red Copper Pan. After purchasing it myself and using it for a couple weeks, I think I’m ready to give my two cents about this thing, and really see if it lives up to the hype.

For the too long didn’t read version, let’s just say that this is probably one of the best non-stick pans out there for this price range. Even after everything I’ve thrown at it, I still can’t even make a mark. I read some reviews online about people have a bad experience with this cooking pan, but it turns out most of them weren’t even using it correctly. I also use metal utensils for the most part – still no marks. I haven’t tested it against the extremes like using a crazy gas stove to heat it up, but it does seem more solidly built than pans that I’ve bought from retail stores in the past.

Clean up rarely ever requires any more work than just wiping with a wet rag after it has cooled down. That’s basically it when it comes to cleaning up, but sometimes I still throw it in the dishwasher every once in a while, just for the extra sanitation. The non-stick surface seems very durable since I haven’t been able to make a dent in it, cooking with eggs and seasonings was no match for this pan. In fact, I’m actually interested in knowing if there is some food combination out there that would stick to this surface after being cooked.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll cook with the heat too high and be able to burn something on there. Until then, I still highly recommend not only this particular pan, but all the other cooking pans that they have in their arsenal.

Thank You for Worldwide Shipping

Thanks to modern day technology and the expansive reach of the private and government shipping companies, it’s now easier than ever to order goods online and have it delivered to you as long as you live in some type of populated area. Even if you are located in the middle of no where, or in the woods somewhere, there would still be a place that you could have an item shipped to, then you could just show up and pick it up. The benefit of all this advancement is that it allows people around the world better access to things that they want or need, and it cuts out one part of the business chain. Instead of going to a local store that marks up the price of goods since they have to pay for things like employees, rent, benefits etc., you can just order it online and have it shipped right to you.

Take for instance, the Rainbow Vacuum. This is a very popular brand of vacuum cleaner, but up until just a couple years ago, it was not widely available all over the world like it is now. The Rainbow is the perfect example of an item that can make your quality of life much nicer, while not being a total pain in the rear to get.

Beware of Crazy Germs and Bacteria

One of the toughest parts about moving to a completely new part of the world, is that your body isn’t used to the different kinds of germs and bacteria that are common in the new location that you choose. Thankfully modern medicine can remedy most problems nowadays, but you’ve heard the stories about the past, about how travelers would land in a new place and bring some crazy disease with them that gets indigenous people either deeply sick, or just flat out kills them.

One of these strange bacteria that is currently making it’s rounds is helicobacter pylor, or referred to as heliko bakterija in other countries. It is known to cause problems to the stomach mostly, and common symptoms include bloating of the stomach, nausea or heartburn, indigestion, and loss of appetite.

A good rule of thumb to always remember is to wash your hands often. It’s the best way to prevent yourself from annoying bacteria like this because it’s mainly route of entry is through ingestion. So if you are constantly washing your hands, you will greatly reduce your risk of having any problems related to germs or bacteria.

Growing Produce and Raising Livestock

As you can already imagine, it’s not as simple living here compared to living in the States. If you are willing and have some property to work with, I would highly suggest getting yourself some sort of livestock and grow some produce. You don’t have to grow enough to sell at a market or anything, but anything you can produce yourself to help sustain your life is highly useful. In many areas, it’s not just a simple trip to Walmart at any hour of the day when you need to get groceries. Sometimes you need to wait until the market is open and people are out selling, or hopefully you can barter with some of your neighbors for a couple items.

Even if you don’t have land for livestock, I would at least try to grow a couple vegetables to help compliment meat that you get from the market. If you have land for some animals, all you really need is a bin for food, a water tank, and a water tank heater. You can get different size water tanks for livestock, depending on how many animals you are taking care of. After that you can choose the right heater to match the size of the tank.

Traveling Away from Mongolia

This is going to be a bit of a different kind of post from the usual. I wanted to take just a second to talk about places to travel to when you are in Mongolia, like if you are living here for an extended period of time, but want to take a little trip during that time. One of the places I’ve been personally recommending to friends and family is going to Vellore in India. They have an amazing temple there made of complete gold, and the are around the temple is something else. Very quiet and relaxing being there and I highly suggest everyone visit there if they have a chance. It’s even more convenient traveling there from Mongolia, compared to traveling from the States.

Upcoming Downtime

Pretty soon I will be switching my whole website setup to another host. The support said they would aid me with transferring the files and such, I just need to finally pick a day to get it all started. The main reason I’m making the switch is because of the cost, but also because my current setup isn’t ready for easy modifications. I want to be able to add new things to the site easily and not have to work with some WYSIWYG editor.

I searched around for a suitable host for both my domain and my actual website files. I ended up going with Namecheap because they had the lowest cost for a couple upgrades, plus I found a Namecheap discount so that makes the deal even sweeter.

Hopefully we will only we down for a day or an afternoon but you never know what can happen.

Filming Mongolia

One thing I’ve always considered is investing in some sort of drone or one of these outdoor quadcopters. I could get some incredible footage of the different areas to give you a better idea of the current conditions here. This would be yet another thing that sets this site apart from others when it comes to real facts about living in Mongolia.

According to my brief research, it doesn’t seem like there are many videos out there about the different areas of Mongolia, and especially not grouped up in one site or channel. Hopefully I get enough time on my trips back to really get some great footage of the varying landscapes. I could check out the cities as well as the wildlife and mountains.

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Let me know if you think this is a good idea. I’m open to suggestions since this is for you guys.

I’ll keep you updated on future plans.

Sports of Mongolia

As you can imagine, sports are quite wide-spread in the region, but the variety of sports is quite small. The most common of them all is football, or American soccer.

Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes there is not a highly successful nation team from here, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the game, and definitely doesn’t stop us from spectating events.

The English Premier League is a professional league for men’s association football teams, which was formed in 1992 and consists of 20 teams. At the top of the English football league system, is the country’s primary football competition and it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League. Seasons run from August to May with teams playing 38 matches each, totaling 380 matches in the season. Majority of the games are played on the weekend days in the afternoon and then the rest are played during weekday evenings. With a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people, the Premier League is the most watched football league in the world, being broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes. In 2014 and 2015, during season, the average match attendance exceeded 36,000 people, the second highest of any professional football league. During the course of a season, each team plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at their opponents home stadium, you can see many of these games on a Manchester United live stream. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw, with no points being awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored and if the teams are still equal, they are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, a play off match at a neutral venue decides the rank.

Over the past five seasons, based on performances in European competitions, the Premier League ranks third in the UEFA coefficients of leagues. Only 6 teams out of 47 have won the title since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. The teams are Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, and Leicester City, who are currently the champions who won the title in 2015-2016.

 

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