Ulaanbaatar, where nomadic culture disappears

I had long desired to go on a trip to a steppe. There were countless times when I imagined myself riding a horse in endless steppe, living in a ger and drinking vodka with nomads. Mongolia, a country where animal husbandry is still the main production mode, of course became my first option of experiencing nomadic life.

However, I got to know that 45% of people live in the capital city Ulaanbaatar when I arrived there. Ulaanbaatar, just like other capitals, is much modernized. Surprisingly, a wind blows here from South Korea. Every few meters there is a Korean cosmetics shop or Korean restaurant. Girls are dressed in fashionable clothes and put heavy makeups. That people on the streets are all in traditional Mongolian gowns only exists in my imagination. That people are all on horsebacks only exists in my imagination. Instead, I saw city people driving Toyota. When night comes, all visitors can see is a scene of feasting and revelry. Karaoke, pubs and night clubs can be seen everywhere.


Back in thirteenth century, Genghis Khan conquered almost half of the world and created a great empire. How thriving and prosperous Mongol Empire was at that time! What a pity that the good times no longer exists. The splendid nomadic civilization also gradually dies following the end of Mongol Empire. Even one of the most important parts of civilization – characters changed to Cyrillic alphabet of Russia during 1930s – 1940s.

Ulaanbaatar citizens nowadays have already been urbanized. They speak English, eat Korean food, drive Japanese cars, use Chinese products, write Russian alphabet… If they want to experience nomadic life, they also need to drive outside the city and rent a ger and some horses with friends. There is no Mongolian feature any more in Ulaanbaatar.


Night fell. I stood on the top of Zaisan Hill, looking at the neon lights and shiny traffic trails of this city. The night view of Ulaanbaatar was very beautiful, but I just wanted to leave and look for the simple nomadic life I had been dreaming about.



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