Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Sidewalks of UB

My big excursion today was to get my first haircut in Mongolia. A teacher friend recommended Chris (from Germany, has lived abroad for many years, most recently four years in China, in Mongolia about three months) at Decatto Hair Studio in the Buddha Vista Mall, located in the Zaisan neighborhood of UB. This is where my American School is located and also where a good number of expats choose to live (some refer to it as the Beverly Hills of UB). It is just over three miles from our apartment in downtown UB. 
Today was overcast and it rained on my walk home, but nothing more than a comfortable drizzle. 

That said, I'm hoping that one of my science or engineering friends might be able to explain about the construction of the sidewalks here in UB. I took shots today of the various sidewalks I trod in my 7.5 miles. Nearly all of them are constructed from two different types of concrete blocks/tiles, no matter if it is a narrow or wide sidewalk. Usually the center of the sidewalk has a strip that is different in both texture and design. Though, in the top right picture, it's on the inside half of the sidewalk. I find that center strip (example--the bottom left picture of the six) to be the most difficult to balance on. If you hit it wrong with your foot, you slide off the little ridges. And when wet, it's even trickier.

The only sidewalk that I found that was solidly one type of material is the bottom middle picture. This was on Seoul street just a couple blocks from home. 

I'm still exploring the area in search of a gym, and I'm not confident I will find something that meets my preferences. Example: Today I checked out 5D Fitness. They had some cardio machines (treadmills, ellipticals, spinning cycles), some nautilus-type machines, some free weights, a room for aerobics/yoga (on your own, I think, no organized classes), and a room for wrestling (?). One month is $150. You can get six months for $600. I paid just $90/month at my Crossfit gym in Colorado Springs and had a trainer for every session and no more than 12 participants. So there is no way I'm paying $100/mo for such meager offerings. I'm still looking.....but I've also come to see that walking may be my new primary form of exercise. That....and perhaps using the gym at our secondary school and making up my own workouts. Time will tell. 

Also on this excursion, I explored markets and stores along the way. I saw Kettle Brand potato chips and Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry juice. Even saw Crest products for the first time (I was beginning to think that Colgate had a Monopoly!) But I doubt very much that this ice came all the way from America. Though it says American Ice, the rest of the writing is in Cyrillic (no idea if it's Russian or Mongolian). 

A side-note about sidewalks in Mongolia--they don't have a storm drainage plan or system in place. Puddles appear here, there, and everywhere. Thankfully, it's arid and the water will evaporate rather quickly, once it stops raining. But in the meantime, it's wise to wear rubber boots, OR simply navigate around the puddles to the best of your ability. This may mean chancing it out on the road, or venturing inland. On one such venture today, I randomly came upon this restaurant. Gangnam Korean Restaurant. Totally cracked me up! UB has restaurants for nearly every ethnicity or country or style I can think of--Irish pubs, Korean and Japanese restaurants, Pizza places, Turkish restaurants, Russian, really--nearly everything. Except Mexican. Some of you all predicted that might be what I could miss the most. I'm not craving it yet.....but will keep you posted. 

My haircut looks great. But it was a little strange to have a young Mongolian male (late teens? early 20s? I really don't know) shampoo and condition my hair. And provide a scalp massage. Did I mention there was a mirror in the ceiling? Yeah....that was weird. 

The cut looks good....but the prices in Zaisan are a bit steeper than I was expecting. I paid twice what I paid in the US (though less than I know some of my American friends opt to pay).....so I think I'm going to shop around and try another place in September. 

So.....what can you tell me about the sidewalk construction? For additional information--you should know that UB does not get LOADS of snow. Perhaps a few inches here and there, but not feet of snow and no real build up. I hear it can be icy on occasion, but this past winter was warmer and milder than "normal." I would think a pure concrete sidewalk wouldn't last long in the extreme cold....but I don't know much about the materials they are using......would love to be enlightened. 


  1. I'm no engineer, but I wonder if they could be there for the blind folks and their sticks to help them navigate the path.
    Or, maybe they have reflective paint/material for night time use
    Or, maybe it's to control the flow of traffic..
    That's all I got... No picture of your hair cut!

    1. Hmmm.....interesting thought, Michelle. Haven't seen a blind person yet....but I'm sure they are here. Disabled folks have it pretty rough here. Most sidewalks don't have ramps where they meet the street. Just a curb.