Part One Of Two, In Which Susan Buys Her Very Own Ger…

The ton for my ger is the smaller one inside the larger orange one
The roof-ring, “toono” in Mongolian,  for my ger is the smaller one inside the larger orange one. I had originally planned to get the traditional orange, but Shuka (see below) observed that the clear wood was better because one could see the quality of construction. He’d already reconnoitered the various ger sellers before I got there and had picked this one as having the best quality for the money. I ended up really liking the feeling of the interior structure with the decorative painting on the lighter color.

On June 15, exactly one month ago, I got to spend some of the most fun hours I’ve had in eleven years of traveling to Mongolia, buying a ger at the Narantuul Market in Ulaanbaatar.  Not to bring home, but to use at one of my favorite places in the world, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in Dornogobi Aimag, which I went to on an Earthwatch project (still going strong) on my first trip to Mongolia in 2005.

Before I left home, calls were made for me to get price estimates so I would know approximately how much things would cost. As it turns out, it’s impossible to get traveler’s checks anymore and foreigners are limited on how much money they can take out of an ATM per day. So I carried $1500 in cash with me, which was converted into tugrik, the Mongolian currency, before we went to the market.

I didn’t do this on my own, but had the expertise and assistance of two Mongols. One, Dr. Amgalanbaatar Sukhiin (Amgaa), is the Director of the Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve Park Administration who I’ve known for eleven years. He granted my request to be able to set up a ger in the reserve, designated some choices for the location and helped with the shopping (talking to the sellers, carrying the money and paying for things) and the set-up. The second is Batbold (generally known by his nickname “Shavka”), a herder who lives with his family near the reserve, in a ger, of course. He was kind enough to drive his truck to Ulaanbaatar, help with all the purchases, transport everything back to Ikh Nart and help with the set-up. This dream come true would not have happened without them, along with other helpers you’ll meet next week.

“Ger” means simply “home” in Mongolian, but it’s generally associated with the round “felt tents” that the Mongols have lived in for over a thousand years. It’s a structure that is perfectly adapted to conditions in the Mongolian countryside. I thought of buying and living in one for a week to ten days a year as a kind of final exam to see how much I’d learned over the years staying at the Ikh Nart research camp, tourist ger camps and visiting many herder families.

The exterior of the door.
The exterior of the door, “khalgaa” in Mongolian. An unusual color and design that I hadn’t seen before. The doors come already framed in.
The vertical supports, called "bagana", being carred to the truck.
The vertical supports, called “bagana”, being carried to the truck.
I bought a "four wall ger", which means four of the standardized wood latttice walls
I bought a “four wall ger”, which means four of the standardized wood latttice walls, called “khana”. Gers are described by the number of walls, which also indicates how big in diameter they are. Shavka is picking out four sections.
Bringing out the felt cover.
Bringing out the felt cover. I bought one layer since it’s summer. More layers can be added as the weather gets colder. It’s a tremendous insulator. That’s Dr. Amgalanbaatar in the green jacket.
Choosing sturdy rope
Choosing sturdy rope for holding the rocks that will weigh down the ger to keep it in place when it’s windy.
Measuring out the rope.
Measuring out the rope. Shavka was very particular about every aspect and item.
Ger stoves.
Ger stoves. There are lighter, thinner ones that are for summer use and heavier, thicker ones that are used in winter. I chose the latter to not foreclose the option for cold weather use. There were two designs to choose from. I went with the one that had the flame motif and the vertical Mongol script, called “bichig”.
Stovepipes. They come in two sections to be assembled in the ger. There’s also a sheet metal piece that fits onto one of the openings in the toono which has a pre-cut hole for one.
Sink stands.
Sink stands. How to have running water in a ger. Mostly I’ve seen these in tourist ger camps, but having one for mine made sense and it came in very handy. I chose the one on the front left. I also bought a bucket which went underneath the sink to catch the water.
Ger furniture in the traditional orange.
Ger furniture in the traditional orange. I bought a bed, a table, two stools and a cabinet.
Kitchenwares. I got one of the aluminum pots with a lid like you see in every ger.
Water container.
Water container. I purchased a LifeStraw gravity feed water filter before I left home. The idea was that I would be provided with well water (for that I purchased two yellow rectangular containers that could be carried on a motorbike). The 5 liter filter bag would be filled from those and drain into the container that Shavka is holding. It worked quite well and drinkable water was no problem.
Plastic sheeting.
Plastic sheeting. There are two ways to rainproof a ger. One is covering the roof (and sometimes the sides) with what is called “Russian canvas”, heavy waterproof cotton. A bundle of it was included in the price for the ger. Shavka also bought enough of the plastic to cover the whole ger. And it was a good thing…
Vinyl flooring.
Vinyl flooring. The ubiquitous choice these days. I’ve only been in a couple of gers ever that had the old school felt rugs on the floor. I found that the sheet vinyl comes in different thicknesses. We got the thickest.
My first choice.
My first choice. I thought the rug pattern was cool, I liked the color and it was different than the very common fake wood floor pattern. But I let myself be talked out of it because Shuka and Amgaa said that it would be too dark. And I think they were right. The lighter, less complex pattern of the fake wood pattern one I chose worked well.
Miscellaneous purchases. There were lots of small items to get like a wastebasket, a doormat, steel basins and, in the red and white striped bag a fabulous tea kettle that was only 18,000 tugrik, about $9.00 USD. You’ll see it next week. Also a kitchen knife, flatware, cutting board, dishwashing supplies…
Cookstove. I left the choice of which one to my helpers. Shavka really went over them before deciding. I knew I wasn’t going to use the wood/dung/coal burning stove and had seen these in a few gers. It worked out great. The fuel comes in what look like spray paint cans. Simple to pop in and out of the receptacle. In the ger I set it up on the stove.
Housewares. Typical of the “mini-shops” one finds at the market. I got a couple of thermos’ (which turned out to be too big at two and three liters; will get a couple one liters for next year), four tea bowls and two larger bowls for morning cereal and soups.
Candles and propane cans.
Candles and propane cans. No solar panel yet, so candles for light if needed. A candlielit ger is very comfy. Also lots of matches. The cans are for the one burner cooktops. In a week I went through one, plus a little of a second, heating water multiple times a day for coffee, washing up, a batch of bansh (small meat dumplings) soup, etc.
Delivering the furniture to the truck.
Delivering the furniture to the truck. There were a number of trips back and forth. Once we’d finished all the shopping, we went back to the furniture seller, who had my choices ready to go on the hand truck, along with the sink stand. We’d also carried the small items to it a couple of times.
Felt pad for the bed.
Felt pad for the bed. I had a choice between a mattress and a felt pad. The mattresses have very stiff springs and thin covers with no padding. I always have my Thermarest pad with me, so opted for the more traditional felt pad covered in cloth. I got a big one that could be folded in half on the single size bed.
Buying the stove.
Buying the stove. Last stop was back to the stove merchant to make the final choice. The purchase price included the stove, stovepipe, stovepipe metal piece for the toono and a typical fuel box.
Last load.
Last load. You can see the stovepipe roof piece and the fuel box in front of Shavka. Once this delivery to the truck was done, Shavka re-packed everything for the drive to Ikh Nart, about five and a half hours. I went by train that evening.
Loading the truck.
Loading the truck. Although this was taken earlier when the furniture was being loaded (that’s the front of my bed in Shavka’s hands), it shows how the ger was loaded. Traditionally, the toono is ALWAYS on the top. This past trip I actually saw a couple of vehicles in which the toono was laying on its side against the side support. I was happy that mine was going to be carried correctly.

So, how did I do on the budget? The ger cost 1.5 million tugrik…$750 USD. We were moving fast so I didn’t write down what everything else cost. All of it together came to $1200, pretty much what I’d estimated. I also paid Shavka’s gas and road fees and something for his helper and that took care of the rest.

Next week: Putting up my ger at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve.






I’ve Arrived In Mongolia! International Children’s Day In Ulaanbaatar


2icd International Children’s Day isn’t celebrated in the USA that I know of and suspect most Americans have never heard of it. It’s the exact opposite in Mongolia where it’s a big, big holiday. I just happened to be in Ulaanbaatar, having arrived a day earlier, and spent over two hours at Chinggis Khan Square, taking photos and thoroughly enjoying the day-long celebration.

Here’s a selection from the over 400 images I shot:




The WildArt Mongolia Expedition, Part 15: And Back To Ulaanbaatar

On our way back south to Bayanhongor from Ganchen Lama Khiid, we saw lots of yaks.
On our way back south to Bayanhongor from Ganchen Lama Khiid, we saw lots of yaks.

The last day of the 2014 WildArt Mongolia Expedition had finally arrived. One more night in the countryside and then back to Ulaanbaatar. The day took an unexpected turn that led to a perfect final evening….

We stopped at one last herder's ger and, along with a very nice Land Cruiser, there was also this equally nice Mongol horse, ready to ride.
We stopped at one last herder’s ger and, along with a very nice Land Cruiser, there was also this equally nice Mongol horse, ready to ride.
The big sightseeing stop for the day...what can only be called a temple dedicated to the Mongol race horses.
The big sightseeing stop for the day…what can only be called a temple dedicated to the Mongol race horses, located near the Aimag center of Arvakheer. As we drove up to it I realized that we had camped a few hundred yards behind it on our outward bound trip, not knowing what it was. I had assumed it was some kind of Buddhist installation and, in fact, that was one facet if this amazing site.
The main structure is this semi-circle
The main structure is this semi-circle, surrounded by stupas and flanked by statues of what I assume are famous race horses. I really want to go back here for at least a half-day sometime just to hang around, sketch and do some watercolors.
Not exactly what I expected to see...
Not exactly what I expected to see at a place dedicated to horses.
Statues of famous race horses.
Beautifully sculpted statues of famous race horses.
In one corner was this pole with khadag suspended from it.
In one corner was this pole with khadag suspended from it.
In the front to one side was this pole with khadag
The center pole.
Behind the "temple" was this extraordinary sight- a fence utterly covered with khadag and, on the ground, hundreds of horses skulls. On the plain in the background is where we had camped.
Behind the “temple” was this extraordinary sight- a fence completely covered with khadag and, on the ground, hundreds of horses skulls. On the plain in the background is where we had camped.
A large and very colorful wedding party showed up while we were there. Here are two of men...lookin' good.
A large and very colorful wedding party showed up while we were there. Here are two of men…lookin’ good.
We traveled on north and came upon an extensive wetland complex in fabulous light, complete with yaks, horses and endangered whooper swans.
We traveled on north and came upon an extensive wetland complex in fabulous light, complete with yaks, horses and endangered whooper swans.
Concerned about
Concerned about it being very cold this last night out, the drivers told us that they had called the Nomadic Journeys ger camp in the area, Delger, and had arranged for us to stay there in gers instead of camping in our tents. As the light faded to night, we made a long run through sandy areas with no directional signs, arriving at the camp after dark but to a warm welcome.
The next morning
The next morning we could see the lovely spot the camp was in. It turned out that this was the day the camp would be packed away for the year. Whew. The previous evening we had all gathered in the cozy, warm kitchen ger along with our host, camp manager Ariunbold, eating noodles, drinking vodka and having a great final dinner together.
One of the camp dogs. I was told they are there to keep wolves away.
One of the camp dogs. I was told they are there to keep wolves away.
We said our good-byes and began the final leg of the Expedition, passing this attractive row of shops.
We said our good-byes and began the final leg of the Expedition, passing this attractive row of shops.
A last photo op...horses crossing a river!
A last photo op…horses crossing a river!
And the final stop, now not far from Ulaanbaatar, to see this statue of a shaman, facing south and festooned with khadag.
And the final stop, now not far from Ulaanbaatar, to see this statue of a shaman, facing south and festooned with khadag.
Ulaanbaatar ahead
Ulaanbaatar ahead in the sunshine. I liked coming into town behind this truckload of horses. The countryside and the city.

And so ended the 2014 WildArt Mongolia Expedition. We met every goal that I had set for both habitats and endangered species. We are the only western artists now to have gone to Takhiin Tal, the first takhi release site, where we saw both takhi and khulan, and Sharga/Darvi  where we saw over thirty saiga antelope. We met the scientists working to conserve these  species and saw snow leopard habitat, complete with ibex. We forded flooded rivers, camped under Gobi skies, visited and hiked an important sacred mountain, attended a local naadam, stumbled upon an ambler horse race, explored a very special monastery, and painted and sketched as we went.

Now there will be a special group exhibition of paintings from the Expedition, featuring myself, Tugsoyun Sodnom and Oidoviin Magvandorj. It will be at the Union of Mongolian Artists Gallery in Ulaanbaatar from June 27 to July 8. There will be an opening reception on the 27th.

I want to say a very special “Thank You!” to Nomadic Journeys and their staff, who made the Expedition possible and contributed greatly to its success. bayarlalaa


I head back to Mongolia on May 28 for eight weeks. There will be another WildArt Mongolia Expedition, this time to the northeastern mountains and the famous steppe grasslands to try to see and photograph six species of cranes, three of them endangered and also Mongolian gazelles. So stay tuned!


Mongolia Monday- Fun With My Mongolia Photos

Chinggis Khan, Parliament building, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Chinggis Khan, Parliament building, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

I’ve been having fun using a variety of photo effects on some of my iPad drawings using the Camera Awesome app on my iPad. I thought it would be interesting to do the same with a selection of my Mongolia photos. Here’s five I did this morning to see what I could come up with. I like it. So much of what one sees in Mongolia has an iconic, storybook quality that the images really lend themselves to “special effects”.

Bactrian camels with Zurgul Uul in the background, Bayan Onguul soum
Bactrian camels with Zurgul Uul in the background, Bayan Onguul soum
Horse trainer, Dalanjargalan
Horse trainer, Dalanjargalan
Gers on a stormy day, en route from Ikh Nart to Gun-Galuut, 2011
Gers on a stormy day, en route from Ikh Nart to Gun-Galuut, 2011
Decorative carving on old temple, Gachen Lama Khiid, Erdenesogt, Khangai Mountains, 2010
Decorative carving on old temple, Gachen Lama Khiid, Erdenesogt, Khangai Mountains, 2010

Mongolia Monday- Images From Gandan Monastery

While I was in Ulaanbaatar this last trip, I spent a couple of mornings at Gandan Monastery sketching and taking photos. I thought that I would share some of my favorites with you of a truly special place that I always look forward to visiting when I’m in Mongolia.

Gandan’s main temple
Feeding the pigeons
Monk leaving morning service
Pigeons on a temple rooftop
Monk with prayer beads
Temple visitors circling an incense burner
Three monks
Stupa with pigeons

Two monks

Mongolia Monday- I Meet Mongol Artists (At Last!)

I’ve known since my first trips to Mongolia that art is an extremely important part of the culture, but had not found a way to meet or connect with any of the artists themselves. Until now.

Thanks to Janna, the Director of ArtiCour Gallery, who hosted my Ulaabaatar art event on September 22, I got my wish and then some. The gallery represents some of Mongolia’s most prominent and honored painters. Some of them were kind enough to come to the event and two invited me to visit their studios, which I did the next day. I had a wonderful time, thanks to Janna and Khaliunaa, who was one of my interpreters for the art event (along with Buyandelger) and who was nice enough to come along so that I could talk to the artists.

Although they did not have access to the West during what the Mongols call “socialist times”, many Mongolian artists traveled to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Eastern Bloc countries to study in a variety of art academies and schools, so they were trained in classical, academic methods. They were limited in what was acceptable to paint, Impressionism apparently being totally off-limits, but still found ways to express themselves with great originality. With the coming of democracy in 1991, the artists of Mongolia became free to go wherever their artistic vision leads them.

The following is a “album” of my visit to the studios of six artists, all members of the Union of Mongolian Artists, which was founded in 1944 and has its own large, airy gallery space in the heart of Ulaanbaatar. I’ve been going there every trip since 2006 to see their exhibitions.

The studio photos and some of the art images were taken with my iPhone. Some of the other painting images I scanned from materials like brochures and booklets that the artists gave to me as gifts. I hope you enjoy this “studio tour” and you can be sure that there will be more to come in the future.

The artists are presented in the order in which I met them.

E. Sukhee, who I was told is one of the most eminent artists in Mongolia
Uulen Choloonii Nar by E. Sukhee
G. Dunburee; he was definitely the extrovert of the group
Dunburee’s famous painting “Ikh Khuree”, a scene of Ulaanbaatar in the 1920s, one of a series
Some of Dunburee’s location paintings
Fellow artist, Sosobaram, who stopped in for a short time, Dunburee and I
Sosobaram gave me a lovely booklet of his life and work. I scanned this and the following two images from it. Here is one of his drawings, I think from when he was a student.
Tsagaan Sarnai by B. Sosorbaram
Avto Portret 2006 (Self Portrait 2006) by B. Sosorbaram
S. Bayarbaatar
Talin Unselt by Bayarbaatar
Natsagdorj- one of the very few watercolor artists of his generation
Ikh Taigin Namar by Natsagdorj; he is from the northern part of Mongolia and at one time specialized in images of the Tsaatsan or “Reindeer People”.
Tugs-Oyun Sodnom
Ger District 2009 by Tugs-Oyun
Landscape in progress- Munkh
Landscape in progress- detail
Finally, Tugs-Oyun, me and Janna Kamimila, the Director of ArtiCour Gallery, who arranged this memorable afternoon with the artists, who couldn’t have been more welcoming

Mongolia Monday- Back Home And With Great Art News!

I arrived home from my seven week trip to Mongolia last Tuesday. I’ve been alternating catching up and doing….nothing or at least nothing more strenuous than watching a baseball game. The first order of business was to download and start categorizing the over 8000 images I shot on the trip. I always feel better when everything is safely on the hard drive, backed up to the remote Vault and visible in Aperture.

My final days in Ulaanbaatar were a bit of a whirlwind. The art event at ArtiCour Gallery was great! There was a steady stream of people all day, some of whom I knew. There was a lot of interest in the WildArt Mongolia Expedition and at least three artists expressed an interest in going next year. Many art students came by. The director of a Mongolian magazine which publishes articles on artists stopped in and said that they want to do an article on my and my work! Even more special to me personally, a number of very prominent Mongol artists attended, all of them members of the venerable Union of Mongolian Artists, which was founded in 1944.  Two of them invited me to visit their studios. But that will be a tale for another post.

Here’s a selection of photos taken at “American Artist Susan Fox-The WildArt Mongolia Expedition”, which was the first in ArtiCour’s new Visiting International Artists series.

Entrance to ArtiCour Gallery
Meeting E. Sukhee, one of Mongolia’s most famous artists
Watercolor demonstration
Bactrian camel. watercolor demo
Display of watercolors I did on location over two afternoons while I was visiting Hustai National Park, one of the three places in Mongolia where takhi (Przewalski’s horse) have been reintroduced
Meeting Dunburee, also a very prominent Mongol artist
Doing a fast sketching demo during my evening presentation
I couldn’t have had a better, more attentive group and they asked some great questions later on.
Meeting with Ekhbat Lantuu, President of the New Century Art Association, which promotes environmental issues through the arts.
My interpreters, Khailiunaa and Buyandelger, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to talk to anyone
Janna Kamimila, the Director of ArtiCour Gallery and my host

Mongolia Monday- Back From Ikh Nartiin Chuluu!

They almost always see you first. That’s a nanny on the left and a three year old billy on the right. You can tell their age from the ridges on the horns.

It was Siberian ibex this time at Ikh Nart. I’d see them on previous trips and always take photos, but my main goal has been seeing as many argali as possible. This year most of those were 20km or so to the northeast, so it was not possible to walk to where they were, at least for me, and I didn’t have a car and driver this time. I’m good for about 8-10km or so a day, especially if it’s hot. And was it hot! Probably close to 100F on a couple of days and not starting to cool off until around 10:30 at night. We also had a couple of rain storms move through during the eleven days that I was there, one with quite a light show.

The valley were the research camp is located. The ibex were up on the rocks down on the far left hand side

I walked down the valley the first day, followed a slope up to the top, sat down to sketch the scene in front of me, looked around and there behind me I saw that I was being watched by an ibex. Forget the sketching, the wildlife fieldwork was on!

Close-up view of the previous photo. That’s a nanny on the left and a young billy on the right.

It turned out there was a group of around a dozen nannies and kids, one of each wearing radio collars, who were hanging around two adjacent rock formations. The first day there were also two young billies, one two and one three years old, judging from the ridges on their horns. I saw and photographed them in that same location three out of the next four days, shooting hundreds of images, around 900 in all. So you know one subject I’ll be painting this winter….

Ibex nanny wearing radio collar

My main reason for going to Ikh Nart, though, was to have my annual visit with the members of Ikh Nart Is Our Future, the women’s felt craft collective that I support. I had a very good meeting with the director, Ouynbolor, during which we spoke (through a translator) about how things had gone since I last saw her and what she needed me to do for this next year. Coming up will be a larger quantity of the full-color brochures I and staff at the Denver Zoo had produced to explain the collective to visitors to the tourist ger camp. They will also now be produced in Mongolian, not just English. There were also matching product tags in three sizes. They worked well, but a much larger quantity of those will also be needed for next year.

Collective members at work on various tasks

I registered a url for the collective last year, knowing that they wanted to have a website. At the meeting we were able to work out the content and a way to communicate while it’s being put together.

Making felt; the wool is laid out in cross-wise layers, wrapped in a piece of tablecloth, thoroughly soaked with hot water and then saturated with soap, which is the ingredient that melds the fibers together
They got me into the act too, helping to work the soap into the wool

The really special part is that I was able to arrange to go to the soum center (county seat), Dalanjargalan, for a night and a day. I had always met the women at either the research camp or the tourist ger camp and felt that it would be very beneficial to spend at least a little time where they live (when they are not out in the countryside at their gers with their animals) and learn a little about their lives. I got a walking tour that included the local school and shop. I stayed in the home of one of the collective members. Had lunch at the home of another and, in the afternoon, around a dozen members gathered at “the office”, a little building that used to be a gas station, to process their wool, turn it into felt and also work on various items that they will sell. I saw the felt presses that I had helped them acquire in action, along with the good sewing scissors they had requested in 2009. They have quite an operation set up now and work very efficiently and with great care and conscientiousness. I shot both still photos and around an hour of video with my new Panasonic recorder, enough to put together a little YouTube video after I get home.

Collective member with lovely pictorial peice done completely with different colors of felt

My ride back to camp arrived later than expected, around 10:30pm, and the reason was that they had seen and captured two very young long-eared hedgehogs that were crossing the road in front of the car! Hedgehogs are one of the species being studied at Ikh Nart, by a graduate student named Batdorj. Within a kilometer of leaving Dalanjargalan, a third one dashed across the road, this time an adult darian hedgehog, and it was captured too, riding back to camp on the lap of one of the students wrapped in his jacket. I was able to get a lot of photos and also video the next evening before they had radio transmitters glued to their backs and were transported back out to the general area in which they’d been caught. And yes, there will definitely be hedgehog paintings, cards and prints coming up.

Darian hedgehog
Young long-eared hedgehog

I also had time to just wander around the reserve and see what there was to see and it turned out to be….wildflowers! The rains have been very good this year and everything is green, green, green. I’ve been to Ikh Nart in August before, but have never seen so many different flowers and so many that I had never seen there before. It was like walking through a huge flower garden.


Finally it was time to depart. We were taking the train overnight to Ulaanbaatar. Most of our luggage, except for what we needed for the night, was taken back to UB by car in the afternoon. The rest of us caught the 1:14 am train and arrived about 8:30 am. I had never done this before, but managed to get around five hours of decent sleep. We were taken back to Zaya’s Guesthouse, where we got showers and sorted our dirty clothes for laundering. The rest of the day was spent getting lunch and puttering around, catching up on emails. The next day I spent most of the afternoon doing a massive download and back up of all the photos and videos I’d shot.

Late afternoon on the north side of the valley

So now I’m at Zaya’s, which I highly recommend to anyone coming to Ulaanbaatar. The rooms are sparkling clean, there is free wifi and the location is very convenient, right off Peace Ave. not far from the State Department Store. There is a common living room with a very comfortable sectional sofa and a full kitchen for the use of guests.

I did see argali a couple of times

As for the WildArt Mongolia Expedition, I’m now working on the last bits of planning and arranging, some things having changed since I left the US. Flexibility is important when doing things in Mongolia. It makes some people really angry when something doesn’t go right or on schedule (so this is not a country they should visit), but I’ve found that it creates possibilities that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

I’ll be in UB for the next 2-3 days, then I’m hoping for a long weekend at a ger camp I’ve stayed at before. Stay tuned!

Mongolia Monday- Ethnic Folk Group Altain Orgil

Mongol ethnic folk group Altain Orgil is essentially the house band at the City Nomads restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. I had never heard of them until I bought one of the CDs on a whim at the HiFi shop on Seoul St. Wow. I will be at City Nomads at 7:30pm sharp next time I’m in UB.

There are a number of these groups around, young people who are not only preserving traditional singing forms and instruments like khoomii, long song and morin khuur, but adding their own individual vibes and twists. What makes Altain Orgil interesting to me, besides loving their music, is that they often wear authentic-looking Mongol shamanic clothing when they perform. Unfortunately, I could only find a couple images of the group, but there are a number of videos on YouTube and I’ve posted a few of them below.