Just in case you’re planning on visiting Mongolia anytime between now and the beginning of Spring, these ‘winter postcards from Mongolia’ that I will be putting together are for you. They’ll include my ideas and tips on what to experience and where to head to.
If you’re currently in Ulaanbaatar or on your way there, here is a brief guide for some (seasonal) gift ideas. As usual, it’s all about supporting local.
Mongolian Quilting Centre
The Mongolian Quilting Centre is known more formally as the New Way Life NGO – established in 2005 to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged and unemployed women. They are trained in the art of quilting, textiles and embroidery and use their skills to generate income for their families by crafting products to sell. Not only do the women of NWL make everyday items such as tote bags and tablecloths but also individual pieces of fabric artwork made from discarded and recycled material such as their stunning quilts.
They don’t currently have an on-line shop but head to their Quilting Shop on Seoul Street. Alternatively, get in touch with Tserendash Selenge the Director.
I definitely want one of their brilliant fabric Advent calendars.
The core aim of this Buddhist NGO is to help keep Mongolian families together thereby preventing children from ending up on the street. Their multi purpose centre located in the Bayangol district of UB houses many of Asral’s social initiatives, training projects and community activities.
This includes the base for Made in Mongolia (MIM) where three hundred and fifty women were trained in sewing and felt-making. MIM is a non-profit initiative established to provide employment options for women. Products include slippers, cushions, tablet or laptop holders and fabric toys.
Contact Chimeddavaa the Director through the MIM Facebook page to arrange a visit to their Bayangol centre where you can purchase items such as these delightful children’s felt boots and jacket.
Mary and Martha
Mary and Martha is the first and only World Fair Trade Organisation registered in Mongolia. Their aim is to support the growth of small and micro indigenous businesses in Mongolia. Particularly great for items of Kazakh embroidery – their Kazakh fabric purses are perfect for fitting in the spare spaces of your luggage.
Red Ger Art Gallery
The Arts Council of Mongolia launched the Red Ger Art Gallery in 2002. It’s a non-profit organisation with the goal to promote Mongolian visual art locally and internationally, to support emerging young artists and to support the development of Mongolian arts and culture.
There are public exhibitions of high quality, innovative contemporary art by Mongolian and international artists. The art is for sale – with 70% of the profit from the sale of an artwork goes to the artist, and 30% goes to support art and cultural development in Mongolia. You can also arrange through the Arts Council to arrange a meeting between you and your artist of choice including a visit to the artist’s studios. All for a small fee of 25.000MNT from each person.
The Red Ger Art Gallery is located in the Khan Bank building on Seoul Street and also in the Fine Arts Museum.
Mongolian Union of Artists
Established in 1942, the Union of Mongolian Artists (UMA) is Mongolia’s largest, national, non-profit, arts organisation which aims to promote Mongolian fine art and art crafts. The Union has membership of more than 600 artists and has sections of painting, graphic art, sculpture, murals and traditional crafts.
Located just to the south of Sukhbaatar Square (Chinggis Square from 2013), the UMA has an Art Centre which includes a gallery, art shop as well as artists studios.
Naran Tuul Market
Hold onto your wallets and experience UB’s biggest market where the ‘real people’ shop. Small traders sell everything you could possibly imagine from covering everything from A to Z including frying pans, all the component parts of a full size ger, shaman drums and cordless drills. This is perfect place for picking up yak wool socks, Mongolian leather boots, ready made deels (the traditional Mongolian coat) and camel wool scarves.
Khustain Nuruu National Park
Khustain is noted for its successful reintroduction of the endemic Przewalski horse (Equus przewalskii) – the only wild horse to survive in modern times and known as Takhi in Mongolian.
The Khustain National Park Trust deals with the management of the national park contracting with Mongolia’s Ministry of Nature and Environment and Khustain is now run as an NGO.
Located just under 100km from UB, why not visit for the successful conservation story and for the wilderness. En-route visit the small on site shop where you can purchase excellent books such as the Flowers of Hustai National Park and Birds of Hustai National Park.
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