Ulanbataar - Final Reflections

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mongolian buildings are SO poorly constructed. I can't emphasise enough how shoddy they are. The Mongolians perfected the ger thousands of years ago and have not had to move on & developed anything since then. As a result the trades are woefully under-skilled. I have never seen such bad brickwork - failing to grasp the basic concept that the strength is derived from overlaying and interlacing the courses. The concrete is not much better. The electrics are downright dangerous - live cables terminated with loose wires dangling at around head height from the ceilings.
As with the ger, there is a sense of the temporary to all the buildings. They are not built to last for more than ten years. Who would want to stay in one place for that long? is the pervading mentality.
The whole place is in a continual state of crumbling away and being reconstructed, of shifting around, reorganising itself, of being free from historical anchors. At any moment the whole city could decide to uproot and the capital of this vast country could move to a new location as it has done sixteen times in the last thousand years and still call itself Ulaanbataar. Or it could decide to not exist in place at all, only in name and time and I can't help feeling that everyone would breathe a sigh of relief that this experiment was over and they could all return to their gers.

Ulaanbataar is a hinterland. A nowhere place.
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