Mongolian Ambassador pays a visit to eastern Idaho
IDAHO FALLS – The Museum of Idaho received a historic visit from a distinguished visitor this past Thursday.
Mongolian Ambassador Batbayar Ulziidelger flew into Idaho Falls to tour the museum’s current Genghis Khan exhibit. He also gave a presentation as part of the M.O.I.’s Museum Club program, promoting the cross-cultural relationship between his country and the U.S., as well as detailing what Mongolia offers as a tourist destination.
The event also included a performance of traditional Mongolian music and an exchange of gifts.
This marked the first time in M.O.I. history that an ambassador from a foreign country has visited the museum. Ulziidelger also visited the Idaho Falls Zoo while he was in town.
“I really see this as an opportunity for cultural exchange between Mongolia and Idaho Falls,” the museum’s Executive Director Karen Baker. “I think this is a great opportunity that we can share a little, small piece of Mongolia and the culture. And, you know, we all have pants because of Genghis Khan.”
“Through this event, there is a great prospect of increasing cross-cultural understandings between Mongolia and people living in the United States,” said Ulziidelger. “The event deepens ties and familiarity people to people. Every passing day, interest in Mongolia raises in the United States.”
Ulziidelger said much of the increased Mongolian interest is being fostered by cultural exports. He highlighted The Hu, a rock band that mixes traditional Mongolian instrumentation with rock music and that is rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S.
He also mentioned the Genghis Khan exhibit currently on display at the museum. It has been displayed in dozens of museums across the country and has helped deepen many Americans’ understanding of Mongolian history and culture.
Ulziidelger also highlighted the natural and cultural beauty of his country.
“Mongolia is the ‘Land of the Eternal Blue Sky,” he said. “We have 265 sunny days of the year but it’s not that hot. Some say Mongolia is Asia’s last untamed frontier.”
Mongolia is also a hot spot for paleontology.
“Most famously, Mongolia is the home of the Gobi Desert, where they found fossilized eggs and velociraptors,” he said. “Have you seen those small things? Very dangerous, by the way. They were first found in the 1920s.”
“Roy Chapman Andrews, a true Indiana Jones, uncovered many fossils, including a number of new species of dinosaurs,” Ulziidelger added. “Perhaps the most impressive discovery, however, was the first-ever scientifically recognized dinosaur eggs.”
Ulziidelger pointed to the qualities that make Mongolia a great undiscovered travel destination. He said his country is very safe and that many Mongolians still embrace aspects of a nomadic lifestyle that is free from the imprisonment of modern smart devices.
“Even today, Mongolia evokes a time when Genghis Khan and his horsemen thundered across the steppe, establishing the largest land empire the world has ever known,” he said.
Ulziidelger describes the Mongolian Naadam festival, which takes place each July, as a must-see event for tourists. The festival consists of three sporting events — archery, horseback riding and wrestling.
“Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery is the historical game of men over hundreds and hundreds of years, since the Mongolian Empire,” Ulziidelger explained. “Naadam is not a festival and holiday, but the Mongolian people are proud to show their traditions and nomadic culture.”
While the U.S. and Mongolia are very different, Ulziidelger said there are important commonalities that bond the two nations together.
“History shows that despite the geographical distance that separates us, our lands and the United States have always been bound close together by curiosity and mutual feelings, while attaining stronger bonds, of friendship,” he said.