Writer V. Sivaji reports from Ulaanbaatar
A handful of Malaysians are breaking new frontiers and keeping the Malaysian flag flying in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, with their involvement in the hospitality industry and tourism sector here.
This city with a population of more than one million people is also known as “Red Hero” in the Mongolian language.
Among the Malaysians here is Kelvin Chong who has been in the Mongolian capital for more than 20 years now.
He was among the pioneer Malaysians to come to Mongolia to set up the Sriwani Duty Free outlet in the city.
“I was new to the city and the culture and language was all alien to me back then. We persevered and managed to set-up the business back then in 1997.
“Eventually, when the business folded up, I decided to stay on here and ventured into the tour and tourism sector,” shared Chong who hails from Alor Setar.
He now manages the Gano Excel Co. Ltd where he is the General Director offering sight-seeing trips to the countryside’s alluring natural setting.
“We have the traditional “Ger” camps (traditional Mongolian houses) which are popular with tourists where they can experience the outdoor and carry out activities like hiking, horse-riding, fishing and enjoy pristine nature.
“The guests are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner during their stay at the Terelj National Park to enjoy the outdoors. More and more Malaysians are coming to know of Mongolia now as we get a fair number of them approaching us,” adds Chong who is married to his Mongolian wife with two children.
Back then as he recalled, there was not much high rise buildings and traffic was minimal in the capital city.
“I still go back to Malaysia every year to see family and friends and keep abreast of the latest news on the internet,” chipped in Chong who is also fluent in the Mongolian language.
Another Malaysian who has been in Ulaanbaatar for almost two years is Jalaludeen Ariff from Penang.
He is currently the Director of Sales at the Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar located along Olympic Street with Ramasamy Kamalingam who is the Director of Food & Beverage at the five-star facility.
“It was quite challenging when we did not know the local language, customs and culture here but we took up the challenge to learn and bring the desired results at the hotel.
“Even the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi was our guests at Shangri-La last year for the Asian Europe Summit (ASEM). He was happy to see Malaysians doing well in Mongolia,” revealed Jalaludeen.
He added that the high level meeting provided international exposure for Shangri-La as all leaders were hosted at the hotel.
Jalaludeen had worked at the Eastern & Oriental (E &O) Penang, Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Four Points By Sheraton Penang and Meritus Pelangi Langkawi but based in Kuala Lumpur.
Rama said it was important to adapt to the local situation as the work culture here is different from back.