Two and a half weeks after the local government halted all Alcohol sales in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia, as a result of tainted Vodka killing 14 people, and hospitalizing dozens more, the crisis may be coming to a close. BNN’s roving reporter Mark Scease and man on the ground in Mongolia filed the following update:

The first legal off premise sales of beer occurred yesterday afternoon at the Ulan Bataar Mart. The pictures of the seals on the coolers was taken in the same market, I think the crisis is over. No beer in my neighborhood, as of today, but we are more of a gritty local population center, than the downtown stores. Still, there are no sales of hard liquor anywhere, with the exception of the two foreigner stores. The GM of the Grand Khan Kempinzski Hotel assures me that they had to jump through all the hoops imaginable to allow beer and wine sales, which is a story reflected all over town.

The Lunar new year celebrations are ten days away and I’m fairly certain prohibition will be lifted before then. The local market is advertising whole mutton, (by laying a whole sheep on the counter with a bit of the fleece still attached to the tail end). None of those glossy magazine ads for us. For the benefit of the ignorant, the government published a glossy poster featuring the extremely dangerous vodka brands. The poster has been up in the downtown stores for the past week, but hasn’t made it out to the suburbs. The Mongol Post, a governmental press organ (guess, which end?) tells me that 85% of the UB population gleans the news of the day through the TV.  So they informed me and I should live with the rest of the foreigners or let my good wife shop for the booze.

More perspective, before I close. I was researching in the Casablanca, a bar attached to the Bayangol Hotel which caters to the miner population, when an ex-pat Aussie came in with some tremendous bites on his hand due to his interruption of a wolf attack on his sheep flock. His regret was he only had his horse and a small hand Axe available to obtain vengeance on the pack!

Our thanks to Mark for this update.

Simon Barrett

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