A Tour in Mongolia

Beatrix_Bulstrode Reader’s will know I have a strong attachment to Mongolia so look for opportunities to promote the country and to dispel some of the false impressions we may have of Mongolia and the Mongols from our upbringing and reading such historical source material as W.E. Johns’ Biggles books. I do from time to time come across a gem and one of my contacts put me in touch with the following book:

A Tour in Mongolia
Beatrix Bulstrode
(Mrs. Edward Manico Gull)
with an introduction bearing on the political aspect of that country by
David Fraser
(“Times” Correspondent in Peking)
Illustrated by the Author’s Photographs and a Map
Methuen & Co. Ltd.
36 Essex Street W.C.

This book was first published in 1920. It was written at the time the Republic of China had invaded Mongolia to quash Mongolian independence, or at least, Mongolia’s autonomous position in the Qing Empire. In December 1911, Outer Mongolia took advantage of the Xinhai Revolution to declare independence from the Qing Dynasty. The Mongolians set up an absolute theocratic monarchy led by Bogd Khan. However, the newly-founded Republic of China considered Mongolia as part of its territory. In the 1915 tripartite Kyakhta agreement, Russia, which had strategic interests in Mongolian independence, but did not want to completely alienate China; the Republic of China and Mongolia agreed that Mongolia was to be autonomous under Chinese suzerainty.

However, Russia was focussed on the First World War and then the October Revolution. Mongolia was threatened by The Russian Civil War as it was drawn in by White and Red Russian forces in the area. In the summer of 1918 one of the factions in Mongolia asked for Chinese military assistance. The Chinese deployed a small force to Urga. Meanwhile, the Mongolian nobility had become more and more dissatisfied with their marginalization on the hands of the theocratic government, and, also provoked by the threat of the Outer Mongolia’s independence from the pan-Mongolist movement in Siberia, by 1919, were ready to accept a return to the old Qing system, i.e. to be governed by Beijing, if that meant the restoration of their old privileges.

Bogdos bodyguardThe Occupation of Mongolia by the Beiyang Government of the Republic of China began in October 1919 and lasted until early 1921, when Chinese troops in Urga were routed by Baron Ungern‘s ((I first came across the good Baron in 2007 when looking for something else – naturally – see Imperial Council of Princes and Counts of Germany and Europe ))  White Russian ((from a wargamers point of view, the good Baron is a most interesting character and one that would be perfect in a wargame set in Mongolia in the 1920s – perhaps using Pulp Figures for another Rough Adventure )) and Mongolian forces, who, in turn, were defeated by the Red Army and its Mongolian allies led by Sukhbaatar by June 1921. This bought an end to the Bogd Khanate government of Mongolia and led to the formation of the Mongolian Communist Government.

This then was the environment that Beatrix rode into on her camel and reflects the country she wrote about in her book.

A Tour of Mongolia is available online as a digital print, and the original illustrations from the book are included in the digital edition – a very worthy read.

As a taster, I have included the first chapter below:


Continue reading


scorpene One of the searches in Thomo’s Hole recently was “Scorpene”. My first thought for “scorpene” was the submarine class “Scorpène”. These are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines. These submarines are powered by diesel propulsion as well as an additional air-independent propulsion system ((Air-independent propulsion is a term that encompasses technologies which allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen. The term usually excludes the use of nuclear power, and describes augmenting or replacing the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels))

The submarines have been jointly developed by the French company, DCNS ((head office at DCNS – Siège Social, 2, rue Sextius Michel, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, http://www.dcnsgroup.com/)) and the Spanish company Navantia ((head office at A-84076397 C/ Velázquez 132. 28006 Madrid, Spain http://www.navantia.es/irj/portal/anonymous?lang=en)).

Fourteen Scorpène have been ordered so far – two for the Chilean Navy to replace the two Oberon class vessels that have been retired; two for the Royal Malaysian Navy; four for the Brazilian Navy; and six for the Indian Navy.

So far two have been completed and are in operation (coming into operation in 2005 and 2006). These are the Chilean Scorpène vessels, O’Higgins and Carrera.

The general characteristics of these vessels are:

Displacement: 1450 tonnes (compact)
1,700 tonnes (normal)
2,000 tones (AIP)
Length: 59.4 m (compact)
66.4 m (normal)
76.2 m (AIP)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, batteries and AIP
Speed: 20 knots submerged
12 knots surfaced
Range: 6,500 nautical miles @ 8 knots (surfaced)
550 nautical miles at 5 knots (submerged)
Endurance: 40 days (compact)
50 days (normal and AIP)
Diving Depth: 350 metres
Complement: 32
Armament: Six 533 mm torpedo tubes with 18 torpedoes carried

There is a good write-up on these vessels at http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/scorpene/

As a final post script, there is also a link between the Scorpène class submarines and Mongolia, a land-locked country. That link is the murdered Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaariibuu. She was murdered in 2006 in Malaysia when she was shot twice in the head, stripped of her clothing and then blown-up with C4. Two Malaysian special police have been found guilty of the crime and sentenced to death – although they have appealed that sentence.

A well known analyst, Razak Baginda, was implicated in the crime as the police were his protection unit and Altantuya was his paramour. Baginda’s company also received a payout of over 500 million Ringgit for the award of the submarine contract. It has been alleged that Altantuya was murdered when she tried to claim her share of the commission. See the Wikipedia entries for Abdul Razak Baginda and Altantuya Shaaribuu for a general background on that.

Mongolian Women’s Fund (MONES)

I don’t often provide direct support for NGOs and such in any of Thomo’s sites, however, I particularly like the aims of this organisation and what they have achieved to date. Mongolian women in particular do it hard – and you may see another blog entry from me later about some of the reasons. Read on then about MONES and if you wish to contact them, there is an email link at the end of this blog entry.The Mongolian Women’s Fund (MONES) is a Mongolian non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 2000. MONES is the first national grant-making organization and is dedicated to mobilizing resources and providing financial support to Mongolian women’s advancement and progress. MONES is a member of several international networks such as Grant Makers Without Borders and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).

Program areas MONES supports are:

  1. increasing the household income of women from vulnerable groups
  2. fighting all kinds of violence against women and girls
  3. supporting marginalized groups of women and girls.

We have supported 110 projects in the past 5 years. Our grantees range from experienced and well-known women’s NGOs such as the National Center Against Violence and the Gender Centre for Sustainable Development, to small branches of women’s NGOs in remote rural areas, such as the Women’s Council of Khar Khorin Soum, Uvurhangai Aimag, and the Rural Women’s Development Foundation of Tumurbulag Soum, Huvsgul Aimag. Almost half of the grants went to rural women’s groups.

MONES supports various activities within its program areas that contribute to promoting women’s advancement and progress. At grassroots level we support community development, and enable women from vulnerable groups to generate a sustainable income through development of basic skills such as felt-making, handcrafting, baking, producing dairy products, and through providing help in obtaining start-up materials and equipment. MONES also provides assistance to awareness raising activities that help women to understand their rights. At institutional level our support goes to building organizational capacity through training, technical support and administrative costs. At policy level MONES supports research work, publications and conferences, as well as broad-ranged awareness work to promote women’s issues in society.

MONES also focuses on developing and increasing awareness of philanthropy and promoting volunteerism among the public. One of MONES’ major goals is to strengthen the charity mind-set of the public, to direct public philanthropy to the civil society sector and to increase social responsibility. To achieve these aims we organize training, conferences, and public awareness campaigns.

Our donors are Mongolian individuals; previous grantee groups; Government; non-governmental and private sector organizations; foreign individuals and organizations; and public and family foundations. MONES organizes a wide range of fundraising activities to increase its funding capacity.

MONES is an expanding organization, and each year its grant-making and organizational capacity increases. Since its beginnings five years ago MONES has become well recognized and respected in Mongolia as a credible and reliable foundation committed to women’s rights and issues. MONES will continue to seek to bring about change in women’s lives across Mongolia and to contribute to strengthening civil society through supporting and working with women at all levels.

To contact MONES, send an email to mones@magicnet.mn and tell them “Thomo sent you” 🙂