Friday, July 24, 2015

Malls in Mongolia

View inside the State Dept Store, aka Mall
My father departed late on the night of the 17th and I've spent the last few days unpacking, cleaning, and exploring my immediate surroundings. Z is off building at the worksite; therefore, I am learning what it is like to ACTUALLY have downtime in the summer. While I've been working in schools for 10 years now, I never got very good at the "off time" in summer and chose instead to fill it with extra work, travel, and/or attending trainings or workshops. So...this is a luxury and I'm doing my best to enjoy it. 

The main street on one side of our apartment building is Peace St. It is populated with shops, restaurants, salons, bars, and boutiques. I've walked it in both directions, exploring what my offerings are. I would say that Mongolian women LIKE to shop. Despite the uneven sidewalks, dusty paths, and mud puddles that we all walk in UB, women here take shoes seriously. Three or four inch heels are not rare. I've never lived in NYC or Chicago or any other metropolitan city in the USA, so perhaps UB is not so different from the USA. Strange that my first big city living is in a foreign country.

UB Dept Store
Malls in UB are called "Department Stores." While Americans would call Dillard's or Macy's a department store, it has an altogether different meaning here. Here it means a mall--a large building with multiple stores inside. Here, they are built UP and not OUT. I have been inside four "department stores"--three of them right here on Peace St--the State Department Store, the Peace Mall, and the Ulaanbaatar Department Store. As I walked through them, checking out the offerings, I was most surprised by all the "little booths" in each one. America is overrun with its megastores and super centers (Walmart, Target, etc); here, the little boutiques yet abound. I observed numerous booths dedicated to one of the following: cosmetic, shoe, clothing (specifically men, women, or children--rarely all together), and baggage (purses, wallets, etc). 

Each Dept store tends to have a large placard such as this to help you find what you need. While there are LOTS of shops/booths/boutiques, the actual offerings are minimal. I can't seem to find washcloths anywhere--while hand towels abound. I can find lots of types of Qtips, but have yet to see cotton balls anywhere. There are tons of detergents and softeners, but I can't seem to find a spray stain remover (like Shout). I am glad that I stocked up on clothing and shoes/ I won't have to do any REAL shopping for quite some time (and learn what size I am in Asian cuts of clothing!). Thankfully, the women I see on the streets here are just as diverse as American women--tall and short, skinny and curvy, and everything in between. I also see diversity in styles--from dresses and short skirts, to shorts and t-shirts,  to funky pants with lots of zippers and converse shoes. One Dept store off of Chinggis Khaan Square has a Louis Vuitton store, as well as a number of other high end stores. I see a LOT of the Burberry plaid around town--children's clothing, scarves, bags, dresses, umbrellas. I see it most every least somewhere. 
My Little Ponies adorn the UB Dept Store

Next thing to explore....Michelle Expo...which is the place to find "fake" IKEA offerings. I need to get a couple of bookcases, a reading lamp, and who knows what else....maybe a small desk? It's not within walking will have to explore by taxi ride. Perhaps one day next week and with my new friend Christy as my guide. She knows where stuff is!

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