Sunday, March 30, 2003

And not only "Visit Mongolia 2003" is scheduled for this year. This summer the Enlightenment Experience Celebration IV is supposed to take place in Ulaan Baatar from June 1 to July 7. This is an immense Buddhist wingding featuring teachings and initiations by numerous Buddhist notables, including Lama Zopa and the Dalai Lama, although of course the Dalai Lama’s appearance in Mongolia is always problematic. His proposed visit last September was thwarted by the Chinese and Russian authorities, although he finally did manage to Sneak in Later in November. The EEC IV event is billed an international gathering of Buddhists from all over the world. How many will run the gamut of Killer Viruses and war-related travel fears remains to be seen.

Of course the war may be over by June and the Killer Virus may have gone back to wherever Killer Viruses come from, but then again maybe not. I may have to consult the soothsayers at Gandan on this. They did pretty well on the Iraq war, missing the starting date by only two days.
Well, the Mongolian government has launched a big Visit Mongolia 2003 program to lure visitors to Mongolia in 2003. Apparently they did not consult the soothsayers at Gandan Monastery before choosing the year 2003. As if the war with Iraq is not enough to deter many travelers now there's the Killer Virus Thing. See US set to curtail official travel to Asia over SARS, which says in part: “Under the new guidelines, all non-essential travel by US government employees to China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan will be suspended until further notice. The travel warnings will also urge US citizens to defer travel to the four places and suggest that those already there consider leaving.”

Since a good portion of the people coming to Mongolia transit through Beijing this can’t be good news. And the fact that many people even at this late date think Mongolia is somehow part of China will only add to the confusion. And the Killer Virus seems to be getting Worse.