The booze ban in Ulan Baatar, Mongolia is now in it’s 10th day. However there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel. BNN’s ‘on the spot’ roving reporter Mark Scease filled the following update.

Rumors abound here in Ulan Baatar these days. My personal physician and research assistant has been busy tracking down various rumors of bars openings these past few days. Occasionally, they have born fruit, but only for one night, then the long dark hours begin anew. He was able to secure a two-four of various local beers for testing purposes. Glad to say, beer has not been tainted with foul additives.

In speaking with a local reporter; I learned that suspicions in her news room point towards the likelihood that even the top end vodka brands have been adulterated with industrial alcohols as a matter of practice. Not good. The local authorities seem to have finished their inventories and we expect a return to normalcy soon. For the time being; my brother-in-law has informed us that the police are the men to see if you need a beer. Makes sense, they have the old stocks; either confiscated or purchased at low cost. I can’t say that I expected the black market to spring up with the local constabulary, but this is Mongolia. Price is said to be doubled from the happy days.

Thursday’s Ulan Baatar Post reported on raids and closures of small bottling plants and repeated a rumor that I had heard from visitors to my apartment building. Namely, that some stores are operating under special permit. I debunked that rumor on my walks about town. Nothing, no where, except two duty free diplomatic only stores. Oh and the cop on the beat. The average citizen seems to be fine with all this, which I have to admit has surprised me somewhat. My guess is that; weathering a famine and economic meltdown within the last twenty years makes one more accepting of shortages.

There were some encouraging signs on Friday afternoon. For the first time in ten days; I saw a drunk arguing with a policeman and a beer delivery truck making it’s rounds. One of the local miner’s hotels opened up Friday evening to an extremely enthusiastic crowd. The good doctor and I were there to document the happenings. Still, no take out sales and no hard liquor, but after ten days, cold beer is a step in the right direction. I expect to be reporting some time during the next week of the return to normalcy.

Ulan Baatar is still off my list of neat places to vacation!

Simon Barrett

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