New to Ulaanbaatar in May 2014

By Julian Dierkes

Back in October 2013, I made a list of things that are arriving to/disappearing from central Ulaanbaatar.

I’ve copied that list here and am adding to it. New items since October 2013 that I’m adding in May 2014 in italics.

What has arrived?

  • sadly, Louis Vuitton and KFC
  • Mini, Bentley
  • child seats
  • sidewalks
  • parks [these are closely linked to Bat-Uul’s election win in 2012]
  • farmers’ markets
  • yoga
  • dogs on leashes
  • Sunday morning joggers and bikers
  • coffee culture

Barista Art at the Rosewood in Ulaanbaatar

What has disappeared, or at least nearly?

Note that some of these may be due to seasonal changes, as I hadn’t been in Ulaanbaatar in September before my last winter, really only in summer or winter.

  • stationary 80s-office-phone-looking old-granny cell phone booth
  • for-pay scales
  • free WiFi on Sukhbaatar, er Chinggis Khaan Square
  • Sukhbaatar Square
  • open gullys/missing manholes
  • street kids
  • packs of dogs
  • smoking
  • the sixth-floor souvenir shop at the State Department Store (though perhaps seasonal)
  • oversized sunglasses for women that were so popular across Asia (?) some years ago
  • Nescafe (see above on coffee culture)

What will appear in the future

  • navigation systems
  • wheelchair accessibility
  • bike lanes
  • city park along the Tuul
  • new airport (apparently)
  • subway (really, I wish they had selected light rail instead)
  • sports cars
  • Harley-Davidson
  • urban renewal and historical restorations embracing district north of government house (National University of Mongolia, German embassy, etc.)
  • road signs in the countryside
  • street names and signs in the city
  • network of cross-country riding trails
  • parking (meters)

What will disappear in the near future

I’m going out on a predictive limb here… 2-3 years is what I mean by “near future”.

  • stray dogs
  • stretched-out hand to signal for a car ride
  • that awkward extra half-step on most stairs

What will disappear in the medium-term future

I mean around 5 years or so.

  • new (to Mongolia) cars that are right-hand drive
  • the neo-classical Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, with its Stalinist (if that’s an architectural style) spire
  • deels in the city
  • some of the downtown university campuses
  • buildings of 4 floors or less in the urban core.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots and tweets @jdierkes
This entry was posted in Change, Curios, Ulaanbaatar and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to New to Ulaanbaatar in May 2014

  1. Todd Smith says:

    The souvenir shop at the State Department Store is still there, they just moved it and made it harder to find. You enter it through the book store by the Cinnabon and go past the art supplies. It takes up the entire southern corridor of the 6th floor.

  2. Shiné Dagva says:

    I am not sure if I want to see road signs in my beautiful countryside. I love my countryside and the people. It should be left as it is – the untouched soul of Mongolia. We need to keep the alive-communication system which exists only in countryside of Mongolia. We have special dialogue and relationship with the Sun and the Earth. The sun and the mountains direct us, not deaf road signs.

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