The Ger District of Ulaan Bataar

The streets are choking with cars, each meandering around each other trying to get ahead of one another, yet progressing slowly.

But once you step off the bridge down towards the river, life becomes much slower and quiter but not necessarily better. Evidence of drunken excess can be found littered along its shores, and if you look closely you can see the ones who didn’t make it home or don’t have a home to start with.

Each home be it a house or a ger is surrounded by a wooden fence, an alien and sad sight for a people who used to roam the wide expanses of the steppe, mountains and deserts. But amongst them are signs of prosperity, life and community. In the chaos is an order, houses are numbered, Trucks are supplying water and shops selling food and groceries like in another city. Adults leaving for work, children returning from school. Some could afford to build permanent homes and the ones who didn’t make use of what they have. Even in the poorest of places people are being inventive, artistic and resourceful.

The higher up the hill you go the less houses you find. Some have flattened the slopes so they could erect their gers, but soon the only things you find are abandoned sheds and scared street dogs. Although seeming vicious at first, they prove to be more afraid of us then we of them and soon vanished behind their fences.

Once you’re on top is when you realise the sheer scale of the sprawling ger districts hugging the surrounding mountains like mold spreading out from the valleys. Yet they possess a certain kind of beauty in the sheer number of houses with their varied coloured roofs.

The stupa marks the top of the hill, a place to appease the spirits of the mountain. We left this auspicious place to return to the reality of the city that is Ulaan Bataar.