17 June, 2021

Mongolia Diary

From beer to hotel chains, Brand Genghis rules. Ulaanbaatar has the highest per capita vodka consumption

Mongolia Diary

Spirit of Things

The spanking new Boe­ing 737-800 of Mongolian Airlines is named after Kublai Khan, grandson of legendary Mongol warrior Gen­ghis Khan. Five hours from Hong Kong over China and the Gobi Desert land you at Ulaanbaatar, the world’s coldest capital, and straight into the spirit of things. An old man accosts you outside asking if you’ll give him something, for it’s his birthday. You step back fearing spontaneous combustion, so strong are the vodka fumes. In Ulaanbaatar, a shot of vodka costs less than a cup of coffee.

On arrival, you are greeted and welcomed by—guess who? Genghis Khan himself. From beer to hotel chains, Brand Genghis rules. Though territorially the world’s seventh largest country, more than half of its 3 million people live in Ulaanbaatar, enjoying the highest per capita vodka...

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