Mongolian Rock in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I was happy to contribute an article for “The Next Page” section of yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The piece gives a brief history of Mongolian rock music but also features Mohanik, one of the bands I was following last summer. Mohanik spent last spring and summer preparing to record an original sounding rock album in the countryside. At the end of August, they brought a crew up to Amarbayasgalant Monastery (5ish hours from UB) and recorded the full album in one day. They let me tag along and film the incredible experience. I’ll be posting more on Mohanik as I sift through all of my footage.

You can read the full article here.

Twenty Years of The Ringing of the Bell

Last June, as Mongolians were preparing to head to the polls, I came across a music video on a friend’s Facebook page that caught my eye. It is was called ‘Khonkny Duu – Virtual Version’. ‘Khonkni Duu’, which means ‘The Ringing of the Bell’, is an iconic song in Mongolia. It was written in 1989 as a call for democracy, and quickly became the anthem of the movement.

Since then, dozens of artists have performed it in different styles and adaptations. The most recent rendition is the virtual version – a 21st Century appeal to the youth of Mongolia.

‘Khonkny Duu’ Lyrics

I had a nightmare last night
As if a long arm tortured me,
Strangling my words and blinding me.
Luckily, the bell rang and woke me;
The ring of the bell rouses us.
The bell that woke me in the morning,
Let it toll across the broad steppes,
Reverberating mile after mile.
Let the bell carry our yearning
And revive all our hopes.



More on ‘Khonkny Duu’

A Mongolian Rock Group Fosters Democracy – New York Times 1990



Note: I mistakenly included one music video that was not “Khonkny Duu” in the original post.

Election Day (News Round-Up)

Mongolians are heading to the polls today to participate in the 6th Parliamentary election since the country embraced democracy in 1990. Election day is a national holiday here, which means that businesses are closed in an effort to encourage voter participation. In Ulaanbaatar, voting is easy. There are several stations where citizens can cast their ballots. It’s a bit trickier in the countryside, however, where herders live dozens of miles away from the nearest polling place.

The two major parties, the Mongolian People’s Party and the Democratic Party, are both campaigning on how they will spend Mongolia’s rising income from mining projects on the people and developing Mongolia. New roads, a subway, pensions – these are among the lofty promises, which, it seems not many average citizens take very seriously.

A campaign flyer for a Democratic Party candidate shows the Ulaanbaatar of today and the Ulaanbaatar he promises for tomorrow.

Two young Mongolians wrestle outside a ger erected by the Democratic Party in a small town in the Gobi desert (Photo by Taylor Weidman)

Read more on today’s election and how the new economy is playing a part:

How does a poor country spend billions? Mongolian elections to decide how to spend mining boom (Washington Post)

Mongolia’s new wealth and rising corruption is tearing the nation apart (The Guardian)

Mongolia Votes, as Resources Bring Wealth and Challenges (Moscow Times)

Resource nationalism to irk investors as Mongolia goes to polls (Reuters)

Mongolian elections decide how to spend a windfall (Fox News)

Read more on campaign ads:

An Introduction to Mongolia’s Political Ads

When Music Videos and Campaign Commercials Combine

Campaign Monologues

The Lighter Side