By Julian Dierkes
I’ve been keeping a list of things that are arriving to/disappearing from central Ulaanbaatar: May 2014 | October 2013.
I’ve copied the 2014 list here and am adding to it. New items since 2014 that I’m adding in italics.
What has arrived?
- sadly, Louis Vuitton, KFC, Burberry Kids and Ugg [probably not new, but I noticed these brands]
- Mini, Bentley
- child seats
- farmers’ markets
- dogs on leashes
- Sunday morning joggers and bikers
- coffee culture
- river walkway along the Dund River (under construction in May 2015 but looking very promising)
- pedestrian overpass to avoid street traffic (Chinggis Ave, just south of Peace Bridge)
What’s going on in #Ulaanbaatar? Pedestrian overpasses? A bicyclist? What? A photo posted by Julian Dierkes (@jbdierkes) on
What has disappeared, or at least nearly?
- stationary 80s-office-phone-looking old-granny cell phone booth
- for-pay scales (actually, they seem to be hanging on)
- free WiFi on Sukhbaatar, er Chinggis Khaan, er, Sukhbaatar Square
- Sukhbaatar Square, er, Chinggis Khaan Square
- open gullys/missing manholes
- street kids
- packs of dogs
- 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 (see above!)
- new airport (apparently)
- subway (really, I wish they had selected light rail instead)
- sports cars √
- 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)
- Combined Heat and Power Plant #5 (yeah, right!)
- hipsters discovering УАЗ (minivan and jeep)
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 7 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
- Russian minivans (УАЗ452) but see above.
At the State Department Store they just opened a big food court on the 7th floor. You can only access it via the elevator or a poorly marked staircase. But the view is really great. The VIP room has a massive conference table with floor to ceiling windows and is only 10k tugriks per hour.
Also did I mention the food is actually pretty good? There is a mixture of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Mongolian food. The only western food place apparently didn’t make it…
Your lists are nice, but some corrections and critcisms:
(sit back, have a coffee)
Why is LV a sad story? the rich have to spend their money somwhere.
Cars: also Rolls (at least 6) and Morgan, Ferrari. And Official Porsche Dealership.
Pedestrian overpasses are used to fix flaws in the traffic-plan and street-design; if they would make raised zebras with lights next to the bus-stops, the grannies with purple deels would be spared the climb of 6 mtr up and down. The elevators seldom work. It’s an insult to pedestrians.
Missing manhole-covers. You obviously visited only very select parts of the city.
In general you are very optimistic!
Bike lanes? please no! Its just not worth the space for only 5 month a year.
The new National Park park along the Tuul (not Dund Gol) will be bisected by the soon-to-build 6-lane ‘Central Highway’ from 22 to Baynzurkh Tovchoo. 45 km.
New airport and subway will be finished after our time.
Last month UB installed 400 bi-lingual street-name signs in the centre. That is about 5% of all the corners. Nobody has seen them since.
Forget HPP5. Never gonna work. We need sewer-plant more urgently.
What do you mean half-steps? The notion that all steps of a flight of stairs should be all equal is an old imperialist idea. We in Mongolia have better solutions.
RHD is here to stay. A poll was done on that last year, with obvious results, and this January Mongolia signed a new free-trade deal with Japan. Result: more RHD-cars coming for years into the future.
And I dont think you will see less deels. But you will see more people wearing deluxe deels, Nationalist pride, and less utilitarian ‘every’day’ deel-grannies.
The 4-floor centre of UB will not be bulldozered, although that is a plan in city-hall. Action-groups are already drawing plans with powerful resident lawyers and real-estate tycoons that actually live in those.
For the rest, lets hope it kind of right!
The new playgrounds and urban landscaping in central UB are great – our son thoroughly enjoyed one new one last June, and I spotted more this year.
The half-steps … they won’t disappear! Singapore still has them everywhere.
Harleys are already there!