Friday, August 19, 2011

August 16: Dale Boisclair reports from Ulgii

Greetings from the remote, rugged and more than just a little run down Aimeg capital of Ulgii (or Olgii, depending on which version you use) Our arrival was a little harried but all’s well that ends well. We were originally dropped off at one of the two decent (decent being an altogether relative term)  hotels in town and I was quite excited. It had a great wifi connection, small but comfortable rooms with clean ensuite bathrooms and lots and lots of hot water.

We arrived early and our rooms weren’t ready yet so while they were being cleaned I caught up on a few e-mails all the while thinking longingly of the first shower I was going to have in four days. Then, just as we were ready to unpack, our interpreter got a call from the host organization and said the whole thing was a mistake.......... we were supposed to check into a ger camp on the other side of town. So off we trundled to the Blue Wolf Ger Camp – a collection of small and large gers in a fenced in back yard that has more the feel of an abandoned gravel pit than the open steppes one normally associates with a ger. Oh well, I’m comfortably ensconced in a HUGE five man ger with electricity and sporadic wifi and it’s a short walk to the shower building where there are real toilets and hot showers – what more can you ask for!

Credit Union staff honour their newest members with a Canadian flag

Our actual work here has been with a local credit union that you would recognize as a credit union anywhere. It’s a VERY small office in a hidden corner of a rundown office building but from this location four staff looks after the financial needs of over 300 members. They take deposits and grant loans and they play an important role in the community because many of their members wouldn’t be able to access these services through regular chartered banks. And speaking of members, the credit union’s two newest members are from Canada! Scott and I both opened memberships and I deposited $20,000 MNT to a new savings account and I have the Mongolian pass book and new member coffee mug to prove it!

-- Dale Boisclair

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