With DSM Travel Correspondent, Kynan Elliot.
Kynan and his gf Cara are on a really big trip. They went to university for ages, worked as Primary School teachers for a year or so and saved up as much do$h as possible. A couple of months ago they left Australia, bound for adventure. Over the course of this epic trip, which snakes it’s way over 8000 kms through Russia, Mongolia and China, DSM will be giving you tasty snippets from Kynan’s travel journal.
Here’s Journal Snippet Number 1, which finds the duo in the desolate and super spooky Ordos City.
Perched on the edge of the Mongolian desert, Ordos is a modern vibrant city designed and built to house over 1 million people. The problem is, only 2% of the target population has so far moved to Ordos.
This eery deserted metropolis that Kynan and Cara discovered has to be seen to be believed…
Monday 25th August, 2014. Kynan Elliot, Travel Journal, Ordos City, Mongolia, China:
“China’s weird and wonderful architecture has been a real driving force for our trip. China’s bleak, quick build cities, with their tacky architecture and Simcity blueprints, cut copy skyscrapers and LED everythings, are totally our thing.
‘So a desolate city built for 2 million people only 10 years ago in the middle of nowhere, is the shiny LEDed gem in our journey.’
At first, we speculated that it would be characterless, bleak and nasty. Much like the other quick builds we’d seen. Instead, Ordos was built with thought and feeling. The streets, gorgeously symmetrical and lined with solar powered chandelier-esque lampposts. The architecture, some of the best I’d ever seen. Sculptures and fountains on every corner. Museums and shopping malls. 5 start public toilets, benches, workout stations and parks galore. The city even had a theme park.
‘Ordos almost felt like a real city. Except no one was there.’
People were there, of course. But not many. And once you left the city center, it was completely deserted. Most of the people we saw were maintenance staff. They picked weeds and cemented cracks in the pavement. Shopkeepers played Chinese Checkers. Cabbies slept on the backseat of their cabs.
‘We were the only ones walking around, and everyone noticed. People did double takes, cars circled the streets, mouths dropped and people froze.’
After a good explore it became clear that construction had ceased as quickly as it began. Buildings came in every stage of development. Unfilled, half painted, scaffolding up, cranes and construction pits. Construction fences lined roads with faded pictures of the finished piece. Duplicated buildings covered with frozen cranes stood in the horizon. Shopping malls and street fronts, completely empty.
We squeezed in as many sites as possible but Ordos was naturally too big to explore in one day. Because of course, the place was actually a fucking city. It was hard to comprehend. Shopping malls, aquatic centers, schools, museums, a theme park, suburbs, an Olympic Park. We boarded the last bus back to Dongsheng wanting more.
Ordos took us by surprise. We expected a weird deserted city, and we got one, and it was surprising. The local talk is that it won’t stay like this forever and you can see their point. It’s a beautiful city just waiting for inhabitants. But it’s unfinished, and who would want to live in an unfinished city?
‘People won’t move there until it’s finished, and Ordos won’t be finished until people move there.’
So what will become of Ordos? I have no idea. I just know it was the most bizzaro place I’ve ever been.
Stay tuned for ‘Kynan’s Travel Journal Snippets, Volume 2’, coming soon to DSM…