Sunday, October 14, 2012

The city of chaos

True, there are many chaotic cities... in traffic, population, overall (visual, audio and air) pollution, in many different aspects and I've already been to some of them (of course I believe that are a LOT of them that I still don't know), but Ulaanbaatar is, I believe, special.
Half of the country's population lives here (over 1,300,000 people) and in the past 25 years the number of its inhabitants doubled, which means an average of new 26,000 people per year. With no time to built the necessary infrastructures and urban planning being a strange foreign word, the city grew and it grew in its one way. What does this mean? 

It means that you can have a modern glass building, next to an old sovietic neighborhood, next to a set of gers. Or having a huge abandoned building with one of the most visited museums hidden on the back in a discrete building (it could be a 2 story apartment building)!

It means a chaotic traffic where you can get stuck for a loong time and not even be surprised by it. And a traffic where the drivers are kind of... well... crazy. They drive fast! And don't often brake because of someone crossing the street, which makes this a very challenging and risky activity. Even locals always run when crossing to the other side. And yes, even on the cross walks. It's an adventure! 

It means that the pollution level, with many factories and a power plant just at the entrance of the city, is way beyond what it should be.

It means that many old buildings that deserve a special attention (with a reconstruction of the surrounding area, and of the building itself) are second priority to the demanded construction work of new dwellings.
It means a lot of things...
But to show you better, here are some photos... A general overview of the city, with comments!

A modern apartment building and a ger on its surroundings
A high voltage power line in the middle of the city
Apparently this building burnt a while ago. The Intellectual Museum, one of the biggest attractions of the city (and a really cool one, I can add), is behind it and it's a bit tricky to find.

This path (that looked a bit abandoned), in the opposite direction led to the Gandan Monastery. On the back, beyond the city, it is possible to see the untamed mountains. 

The prayers are done by spinning them. On each one is written a prayer. The Gandan Monastery was a place where I forgot all the craziness of the city and felt at peace.

There were MANY pidgeons on the Monastery grounds, like, MANY MANY

The one with the big hat is the master(?) buddha

And there, among the confusion of restaurants and Karaoke places, there were a few hidden treasures like this french bakery. The pictured boy is the son of the bakery's owners (the painter is the mother)
Why is there a monument to the beatles in Mongolia in the shape of an apple? I have no idea!!
My feet and the main square :p. This must be a rare photo because it is actually forbidden to seat on this ledge
The statue in the middle of the main square dedicated to S├╝khbaatar, a local hero 
And Chinggis Khan. We were told that every best thing there is labeled as "Chinggis Khan"
Just near the main square, you kind find plenty of men playing chess. All men, no women.

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