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Along with today’s unveiling of Street View imagery, the Google Cultural Institute is proud to present over 200 new cultural artifacts and 20 new exhibits from three new Mongolian museum partners, the National Museum of Mongolia, The Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum, and The Bogd Khaan Palace Museum.

The most famous event in the Mongolian calendar is undoubtedly Naadam, the annual summer festival celebrating the traditional Mongolian feats of wrestling, archery, and horse racing. You can learn more about this occasion from the interactive exhibitions curated by the three museums. Let’s take a closer look at this colorful extravaganza.

Horse racing
It’s no exaggeration to say that most Mongolian children can ride before they can walk. At Naadam, children aged 5 to 10 compete as jockeys in a cross-country horse marathon race at breakneck speed, covering distances of up to 30 kilometers.
Our Street View Trekker operator, Ari, with a young Naadam jockey riding bareback (!)
Mongolia’s proud equestrian tradition dates back centuries, as this early 20th century exhibit from the Bogd Khaan Palace Museum on the Cultural Institute shows.
Detail from A Journey of Big Caravan, a traditional scroll showing an equestrian procession
Traditional Wrestling
Wrestling is the most important and revered of all Mongolian games. Up to a thousand men from across the country participate at a chance for national stardom at Naadam ever year. Their costumes might look exotic to the uninitiated, but have a practical dimension to them — and their leather boots prevent them from slipping.
Ready, get set, wrestle: a picture of Mongolia’s Naadam wrestlers from the National Museum of Mongolia
Archery
While only men can compete in wrestling, both men and women can enter the competition for archery. To this day, the marksmen and women wear Mongolian national costumes, known as deel, to compete. They shoot from distances of 65 to 75 meters away and must compete together in teams of ten.
Archery photograph, from the Bogd Khaan Palace Museum
Fun fact about the Mongolian national dress deel: it was the inspiration for Star Wars’ Princess Amidala’s regalia. See if you can spot the similarities between this exhibit and these pictures of Amidala’s costume.
A picture of traditional Mongolian dress. Note the princess-like regalia on the left—look familiar?
Victory Song
At Naadam, songs of praise to the champion horses, wrestlers and archers are sung and accompanied by Mongolia’s national instrument and symbol, the Morin Khuur (or “Horsehead Fiddle”). It only has two strings: a “male” string made of the hair from a stallion’s tail, and a “female” string made from the tail hair of a mare.
A horsehead fiddle dating from the 1800s, National Museum of Mongolia
We hope these items will inspire you to visit Mongolia during Naadam so you can soak in all the sights and sounds for yourself!

Posted by Dennis Dizon, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute

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With over 250 sunny days a year, Mongolia is known by many as the "Land of the Eternal Blue Sky.” Under that sky, though, Mongolia is anything but constant – it is vast and diverse, with stunningly beautiful landscapes from steppes and deserts to icy lakes and gushing rivers.

Last fall we bolted a Street View camera onto a four wheel drive pickup truck to begin capturing 360-imagery. So far, it’s made its way across more than 5,000 km of Mongolia’s rugged roads...well, not always “roads.”

Sometimes, nowhere near a road.

And there were times when we ditched the truck entirely. Deep in Mongolia’s wild expanses, Ariuntuul, or “Ari”, our Mongolian Trekker operator, strapped the 18kg Street View Trekker onto her back.

Let’s peer over Ari’s shoulder — and the hood of our 4x4 — to take a quick glimpse around Mongolia, shall we?

Winter is coming
First stop: Khuvsgul Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in Asia. We captured this in the middle of winter, when the entire lake freezes over so hard that sleds and trucks can trundle across it.

As you can see if you head back towards the shore, this frozen lake is a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike, with ornate ice sculptures and local artisans setting up shop on the ice.

Trials and tributaries
Next up: one of the many (many) rivers our 4x4 had to cross on its 5,000 km journey - this time, a small tributary of the Yeruu River in Selenge province.

Sometimes there weren’t even makeshift bridges.

Sand as far as the eye can see
Southern Mongolia is home to Asia’s largest desert, the Gobi, which overlaps with northern China. These vast, sandy plains gave birth to the mighty Mongol empire under Genghis Khan in the 13th century.

And as you can see, wild horses are still being tamed on these endless expanses.

The cold never bothered me anyway
On the opposite side of the country, closer to Mongolia’s border with Russia, the “roads” look a little different in the winter. Here’s our truck venturing through the farmlands just outside of Mongolia’s third largest city, Darkhan.


Luckily, we had four wheel drive.

The round rooftops of Ulaanbaatar
The ger (pronounced “gear”) is an iconic Mongolian structure, home to the nomadic herders who have packed up and moved around the Mongolian plains for thousands of years. Now, many families have started to move to the outskirts of the rapidly growing capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and are setting up their gers there.


Have a nice journey!
Although adventurers usually spend weeks exploring the hidden treasures of Mongolia, we can now take you on a whirlwind tour in just a few clicks—which we fully expect will start you planning a real-world adventure of your own. Until then...


Posted by Cynthia Wei, Program Manager, Google Street View

P.S. If you want even more Mongolia, check out this post about 200+ Mongolian cultural artifacts we’ve just added on the Google Cultural Institute.

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Did you know that small and medium sized businesses in India that use cloud and mobile tools grow 27% faster than comparable offline businesses?

According to a new report from Deloitte sponsored by Google, Indian SMBs that have harnessed cloud tools are also four times more innovative, 65% more likely to export and — good news for India — they’re hiring: 84% of them are actively looking for new employees.

Even better news: the employees of these digitally-engaged businesses are six times more satisfied with their work and nine times more collaborative.

To learn more about how technology is helping India’s small businesses go big, head over to the India blog.

Posted by Mohit Pande, Country Manager - India, Google for Work

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After last summer’s jaunt around Indonesia and Cambodia, we take a look at life along the Mekong River, this time through new Street View imagery of Vientiane, Laos’ capital (and largest) city.

Our Street View fleet has captured imagery throughout the city, but we wanted to get your virtual tour started with seven Street View panoramas of this diverse and vibrant Southeast Asian city:

1. Walk through Laos' "Gate of Triumph"

The Patuxai, also known as the Gate of Triumph, is a war monument dedicated to those who fought in Laos’ war for independence ending with it’s liberation in 1949. Pan around the Street View imagery to view the structure’s classic Laotian architecture, including the four gates that resemble a lotus flower.

2. Leave your watch behind and experience life on Mekong time

While many know Laos as the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, this view from the popular Quai Fa Ngum road gives you a sense of how scenic life is from Vientiane’s perch on the Mekong river. Use the new 360-degree imagery to check out some of the city’s contemporary housing.

3. While you’re at it, check out the riverside market and this nice lunch spot with a view

Quai Fa Ngum is also home to some picturesque outdoor dining. Take a stroll down the street on Street View for a fuller view of city life along the Mekong.

4. Hang out at the Presidential Palace

Also situated near the Mekong, the Presidential Palace is the official residence of the President of Laos and one of Vientiane’s most iconic photo spots.

5. Zoom around a golden “stupa” in the center of the city

Known as “the Great Stupa,” Pha That Luang’s golden structure is one of Laos’ most cherished national monuments. You can use the new 360-degree imagery to zoom in for a closer look and to glimpse the bustling streets that surround the temple.

6. Find a change of pace at an ancient roadside temple

Check out this new panoramic look at Wat Si Muang, a well-known Buddhist temple, for a closer look at some of the iconic religious sites that can be found across Vientiane.

7. A 360° picture is worth 360,000 words

Established less than a decade ago, the National University of Laos is the only national university in the country. Click through the imagery to get a sense of the campus' surroundings in Vientiane.

These are just a handful of Vientiane’s sights now available on Street View. We hope you enjoy looking through them and learning more about this city’s history and heritage.

Posted by Cynthia Wei, Street View Program Manager, Google Maps

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Since its inception in 2005, Fubon Art Foundation’s Very Fun Park is an annual highlight of Taipei’s art scene. Every summer for the past ten years, large-scale installations have sprung up in the parks and streets of Taipei, delighting passers-by and residents alike. These sculptures and installations by artists from all over the world only bloom across Taipei’s Eastern District for three months—but now, there is a way for art lovers to see these works anywhere, anytime.

To mark the tenth anniversary of Very Fun Park, the Google Cultural Institute has teamed up with Fubon Art Foundation to place online 375 works from the past seven years of Very Fun Parks. Visitors can also revisit 2014’s Very Fun Park through an interactive online exhibition.

We promise it’ll be fun—very fun.
Although this is the last time Fubon Art Foundation will be holding this installation event in Taipei, thanks to the Google Cultural Institute, visitors can revisit the past seven years of artwork simply by going online.

Here are a few of Very Fun Park’s greatest hits, located in corners of Taipei. We invite you to take a look at these artworks and also the corners of Taipei where they once lived, on Google Street View.

Menchinu (2014)
Japanese art unit Yodogawa Technique specializes in repurposing trash and debris to create works of art. In this case, the artists collected litter found around Taipei’s Dansui River to construct this monumental sculpture.


Here’s the same sculpture in situ on Street View, in front of Taipei's New Horizon building complex:



Under Construction (2013)


This road, created by artist Kuo-Chang Liu, is made of asphalt concrete and extends onto the surrounding fences and walls, allowing it to stretch into the sky, blurring the boundaries between the asphalt and the buildings above. This installation was located at Fuxing Road 110.

We can even go back in time on Street View to see what the street looked like when under construction in 2012, complete with fencing:



Trees Are People Too (2013)


Da’an Road is a lovely tree-lined avenue in downtown Taipei. Bet you never thought about seeing it from this perspective before, though. Artist Filthy Luker's cartoony installation invites you to take a fresh look.

We hope you gain a new appreciation of Taipei, this vibrant, art-loving city, through these new exhibits on the Google Cultural Institute.

Posted by Lauren Nemroff, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute

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This post is part of a regular series of interviews with people across Asia-Pacific who use the Internet to create, connect, and grow. This week Krishna Kumar, the CEO of Simplilearn.com from India, shared the story of how he grew his online education company aimed at professionals looking for new skills and offering them certification.

Q: Why did you choose to go online?
After exiting my last company, I was looking for an Internet-based business that would give the flexibility to build a large global business. While I was looking for a business opportunity, I maintained Simplilearn as a personal blog. Over time, I realized that this personal blog on project management had great potential to become a global business, and it eventually became one.

For one, it was not about what differentiation the Internet brought in. We are an Internet-only company. We get 100% of our customers online. We deliver 100% of our products online and we get 100% of our supplies online too. We have paying customers from over 150 countries including the US, Australia, UAE, Singapore, Canada, Switzerland, and South Africa.
Simplilearn.jpg
Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
When we started five years ago, professional training was not an established category. However, as we grew, we scaled up our product and technology to attract customers from across the globe.

Q: What does the future hold for the business?
I want to establish Simplilearn.com as the go-to career destination for working professionals globally across all sectors, to impact at least a million careers annually. My vision is to be the career partner for people across the globe, enabling them to think about Simplilearn.com, whenever they are looking for career advancement.

Q: How has your digital journey been so far?
Initially we experimented with various digital channels for marketing, before we reached a state where the exact role of each channel was decided. Our overall digital spend is $40,000, and over half of that goes to AdWords, which goes to show how extensively we have worked with it.

Q: What do you think offline entrepreneurs can learn from online entrepreneurs?
In today’s world, being offline is not an option. Some part of the business must be online. The greatest learning for offline entrepreneurs will be your ability to think of the whole globe as your market. The Internet allows you to acquire customers from pretty much anywhere in the world, and that opens a wider opportunity.

Q: Who’s your Asian Internet idol and why?
One entrepreneur I really admire is K. Ganesh of Growth Story, a very successful online tutoring business. His ability to identify multiple large problems in the market and find an Internet-based solution is amazing.

Posted by Krishna Kumar, CEO, Simplilearn

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Singapore turns 50 this year and the SG50 festivities will soon be spilling over onto the Google Singapore homepage, all thanks to Moh Journ Haydn, aged 8.

He’s the overall winner for the the 2015 Doodle 4 Google competition “Singapore: the next 50 years.” Here's his winning entry:
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Haydn’s vision of Singapore in 50 years’ time is truly inspiring:
“Singapore will be powered by solar energy in the next fifty years. There will be no more pollution in the city and we can protect the environment. We will have continuous energy source. One significant change in Singapore is our transport vehicle. Having extendable rocket train will increase capacity of one ride and allow less waiting time. The trains will travel in modern tunnels. Both the trains and tunnels will run on solar energy. We will have no jam on roads. Everyone will be happy.”
You’ll be able to see the Beacon Primary School pupil’s doodle on Google.com.sg on Singapore’s National Day, August 9. He’ll also be traveling to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, as part of his prize.

Congratulations to Haydn, as well as the other category winners who all walked away with nifty prizes:
  • Ahmed Dzafirshah in the 4-6 year-old category
  • Zheng Yang in the 10-12 year-old category
  • Ong Lin Kai Megan in the 13-15 year-old category
  • Steven in the 16-18 year-old category

Haydn will be a spry 58 when he is hopefully riding the rocket-boosted, solar-powered train he envisions for Singapore's 100th birthday. Elon Musk, watch out.

Posted by Sana Rahman, Google Singapore Communications Manager

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Today marks the 114th birthday of Japanese filmmaker Tsuburaya Eiji, best known as the creator of kitsch-horror classic Godzilla and the Ultraman superhero series. He pioneered the art of tokusatsu, or special effects involving the use of miniatures and scaled-down city sets—that remarkably is still being used by his studio that continues to create movies.

As an homage to this filmmaker’s legacy, Google is celebrating Tsuburaya with an interactive doodle that gives you a taste of what it’s like to make your own tokusatsu movie. Based on how nimble you are with harnessing Ultraman or swatting the UFOs, you’ll get a very different film at the end of your ten tasks. Go to the Google homepage to try it out yourself!

Read on for a glimpse behind the curtain with Googler Shun Ikeda and doodler Jennifer Hom, on the creative process behind this doodle.

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فاروق سومر‬‎ and Ali Hafeez Azmat, we heard you: Android One is arriving in Pakistan today. The QMobile A1 is now available for purchase at retail stores across Pakistan.

Like all Android One phones, the QMobile A1 combines high-quality hardware that’s been tested by Google with the latest version of Android (Lollipop 5.1.1) and all of the features that come with it. These include Google’s new Material Design interface, up to 2x better performance, a battery saver feature, smarter notifications, and quick access to data controls. Android One phones will also automatically receive updates to the latest version of Android soon after they are released.

Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management

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In the first half of 2015, the most-searched term in Japan was ラッスンゴレライ, more than Manny Pacquiao, more than Miyazaki’s new movie “The Wind Rises,” and more than the health fad of the year, coconut oil.

But what does the phrase mean? That’s actually what Japan wants to know. Global searches for the meaning of ラッスンゴレライ exceeded the searches for the meaning of “twerk” and “yolo” in the first half of the year.


In fact, ラッスンゴレライ is a song by Japanese comedy group 82 sec. Bazooka. They performed it on Japanese TV late last year, and then found it becoming a YouTube sensation and a pop-culture phenomenon earlier this year.



If Japan doesn’t understand this, what are the chances the rest of us will? I watched the video and asked my Japanese colleague Kaori for help. Here’s a cleaned up transcript of our Hangout chat, complete with that most Japanese of expressions, emojis.

So how should we transcribe this phrase? There's Lassen Gorelai and I've also seen Rassun Gorelai. What do you recommend?
I think it's best to go with lassen because that’s what another YouTube creator called it in his English version of the video, and his video was a big hit.

And, just to be clear, it means...NOTHING?
 Well, we don't know.

... What ... ?!
Because the meaning of it was never addressed. So we don't know if it means anything, or if it means nothing.

So if, in 2012, I was to say those words to someone in Japan, they would have no clue as to what I was saying?
Yes, in normal Japanese it doesn't mean anything.

Does it sound like some other kinds of words? Does it sound technical? childish?
It sounds foreign. It’s written in Katakanagi, which is common for foreign phrases.

Like English foreign? Or just ... from elsewhere?
Yeah, not English.


Can you set the scene a bit. They first did this on a TV show — had they done stuff like this before? or did this come out of nowhere?
Yes, they first did this on a late-night TV show in late 2014. And soon after that, they uploaded an official YouTube video, which immediately became popular. The comedians were unknown before Lassen Gorelai.



Is the English version an accurate translation? I just thought it was someone putting together English-language phrases in random order.
The English version is accurate. That's really what the original song is saying. Including the "spider flash rolling thunder."

What? OK. I'm going to listen to it more closely. [Watches the movie again, eyes wide open]



So "wait a minute, onisan"... one of them is called Oni?
Onisan means "brother" (as in, “hey bro”).


This song is even weirder than I thought. So it's these very intense scenes involving hotels and cars with the added ingredient of “lassen gorelai.” Suddenly, this phrase of yours makes sense: "we don't know [the meaning], because the meaning of it was never addressed so we don't know if it means anything, or if it means nothing." I thought you were just being zen, or something. So when this got big, how did this filter into daily life? Is it a catchphrase people would say in a bar?
Yes, people would say it when they're having dinner, at someone's house, or if you are a student you would be doing this in a classroom.

Have you used it?
No ... but my friends did at a party once. And there was a group of people who were so into it, and the rest of us were just observing, not wanting to believe that it's a thing.

The dance and everything?
Yes, they actually learned the dance from watching the YouTube video! The people who would go that far are definitely from the younger generation.

All right, so finally. What do you think Lassen Gorelai is, if you had to guess? I think in Pulp Fiction when they look in the briefcase and there’s something in there with a big glow ... THAT'S LASSEN GORELAI.
To me it sounds like a kind of Indonesian food.

Like nasi goreng!

Yes!

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, onisan. Nasi goreng, what the hell's that!" Makes sense. Thanks, Kaori.



Posted by Robin Moroney, Communications Manager, Google Asia Pacific