Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Children playground destroyed by Avzaga Buildings

It began .. years ago (I really do not remember when it began. To be updated when I confirm it with my family and neighbors), when my playground was taken away from me within a fortnight by Avzaga Trade LLC - I woke up to see the playground, which I grew up playing at, fenced with high wooden fences. I immediately understood that a building was to be built soon. It made me angry. It made my family angry. It made my neighbors angry. Most shockingly, it made me angry, and I seldom get angry! Anger is such a strong feeling that I seldom lay upon anything or anyone.

I've understood that I was actually angry at myself. I couldn't understand how did this happen so fast. Why wasn't I aware of this? How could this happen so fast? How could I let it happen? I asked my family "What's going on??!", and my mother responded with "I do not know". Of course, we knew what was going on, but we couldn't understand how we could let this happen. My mother tried talking to our building mayor, since new buildings legally needed a permission from the neighboring residents that says "Yes, we like the idea. You are welcome to build buildings, take the playground away from our children, block our sunlight, disturb our peaceful sleep with the building noises and make our residential area ugly" - which was highly unlikely to be approved by any of our neighbors.

We live next to the State Department Store, the Nomin Supermarket - the center of the capital city, where people of middle class or above used to live. We never imagined that anyone in their right mind would approve such a hostile playground demolition - it would not be fair to our children and our next generation. However, we were wrong. One of the elderly grandmother resident told our mother that our building representative somehow approved it, she jokingly said that person got a good deal of money for it and already moved out of the building. When my mother told me this, I was angrier. 

My anger grew as the construction started taking down our playground toys and equipment - our beautiful tall trees that circled the playground (in an oval shape if you look from above. I really wish I had photos to show its beauty!), our grass, our tables and chairs (where grandparents used to play chess and cards), our seesaw, our merry-go-round, our swing set, our slide, our chin-up bars, our sandbox, our monkey bars, our overhead ladder and many of which (i) helped children develop physical strength and flexibility; (ii) provided enjoyment and fun; (iii) staged a beautiful romantic place for couples and loved ones; and (iv) gave elderly people a lovely garden to relax and enjoy each other's companion and laughter. I cried when they cut off my tree - I used to climb that tree many times when I was a child. It broke my heart, literally. How can they do this to children?

We reached our breaking point, so I and our neighboring children decided to take down the wooden fences. We all agreed on time and date - I was never that excited to take down and destroy something. I could not wait to take that illegal property down and free our playground from them. When the time came, we all ran to the wooden fences. I have no idea how many we were, but the kids' number were just multiplying so fast. I think the kids from other neighboring buildings were joining us. Altogether circling the fences around, the kids started screaming and started kicking the fences down. You may call it a "small revolution" of the neighborhood kids.

How proud we were to seize back what was rightfully ours. We kicked the fences over and over again. As a girl, I kicked it with all my power. Not caring about the girly behavior and dutiful look, I kicked and took the fences down with rest of the boys; and boy, how good I felt! Once we took the fences down (all of it), we were happily jumping on it - hands up, screaming "yeahhhhhhhh", giving hugs and high fives to one another. Even television and media reporters came that night and recorded our victory against the vicious business plan. We screamed at the TV reporter, saying "We won! We won! We won!"

Sadly, the next day, the construction builders came again and built a stronger iron fences instead. This time our parents and grandparents came out and started arguing with the construction builders, telling them this is illegal. The construction people apologized and told us that they were merely taking orders from their bosses, and they had no right to stop the construction - otherwise they would be fired. They said "We are only doing our jobs here. Please, do not make it difficult for us". After heated discussions, they started pushing one another. The kids just stood there and saw that it was out of their hands - it was too big to tackle. Even our parents and grandparents could not do anything about it, but push the construction people around. How could possibly small kids make a difference?

Our victorious fire in our hearts died then - we all understood that money and power ruled the world. I remember lowering my head down, looking at my feet and told myself that I did not want to live here anymore. Many families agreed with me. One by one, our neighbors started moving to Zaisan, once the building was in progress. We hated that building and everyone who was involved in it: from the person behind it, to the people who were building it, to the people who financed it, to the people who got bribed and gave the permission to build this illegal building, to the people who bought apartments and everything to do with it.

After our constant calls and complaints, they promised to build only one building on half side of the playground, and renovate the other half of the playground to a more beautiful playground. Foolishly and innocently we believed them till they started building the second tower on the same ground they promised to build a playground. This happened when I went to Denmark to study. I was very shocked to see another tower built - another really ugly one - when I came back. I truly loathed those two towers.

How ugly they looked. They did not even fit the surroundings. The architecture who designed it had no taste in style, obviously. I mean, take a look at it when you walk past State Department Store now. Should not the architecture take the surroundings into a factor when they build something? I-40,000 area is full of ancient buildings, 4 floored, and all look alike. I'd like something nice as Gandirs, which is built at the other side of the State Department Store, but noooo, take a look at the photos below. In addition, they did not think about parking spaces as well. As soon as the residents went to the building, our area started having traffic jams and lack of parking space (Duh! More people means more vehicles). Worse, the residents started throwing their garbage right outside their building that faced the main street (look at the photos below).

The first Avzaga Building #17:

The second Avzaga Building #(not known) right next to the ugly green one:

Someone asked me "How do you know the garbage is from the new residents? It could be you!" I told him that all of the initial/former residents throws their garbage behind a door of the 1st floor of the main corridors; then our building cleaning lady picks them up and gives them to the garbage collecting car when it comes every morning. Plus, as you can see from the photo, the garbage is full of boxes - yes, boxes. New TV boxes, refrigerator boxes, new whatever boxes and so forth - a clear sign of new residents moving in. It made me wonder and come to a conclusion that the people who moved in to this building do not care about the surroundings and the beauty of their residential environment.

To sum things up, I'd like to ask few questions from the people who supports, finances and buys such horrible properties:

1. To the project master: How can you do this - taking away the playground from children and the relaxing garden from the elderly? How can you sleep at night? How much money did you make? Was it worth it?
2. To the financing investors and buyers: How can you finance such illegal and inhumane project? How can you sleep at night? How can you buy such apartment with no residential gardens, no parking space and no playground for your children? How can you sleep in it?
3. To everyone who let this happen: How did we let this happen?

I am ashamed of myself for letting this happen. I am ashamed of my neighbors who let this happen, even if they fought with me during the revolt. I am ashamed of living next to these people who support and purchase such horrible buildings. I am ashamed of living in such area.

A disappointed resident of State Department Store area,

Monday, September 16, 2013

Funny Emergency Evacuation at Central Tower Today

All employees were told to get out of the office due to potential bomb threat at the Central Tower this afternoon. When we got out of the office, the security lady on our floor told us to take the elevator down (aren't we supposed to take the stairs??). Anyways, once we reached the lobby, we tried to get out of the front entrance, but the receptionist lady said "It is not safe to go out through the front door. Please, take the elevator down to the B1 parking floor" (huh, where the bomb would highly likely to be??!), [utterly mortified and without any choice] we took the elevator down again and everyone in the elevator joked about how we were headed to the bombing source. Finally when we got into the parking basement, the security guys directed us to the Exit. Most ironically, that exit led us right out to the Central Tower fountain area - the dangerous zone the receptionist lady pointed out!!!! Cursing and laughing at the same time we came to this conclusion: CENTRAL TOWER IS NOT READY! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Breaking Up

Loneliness can make you do stupid stuff. It can make you call your ex; say yes to a guy you usually don't say yes to; increase your craving for sweets; make you watch pathetic romantic movies and cry; make you lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling; look through the window and see people pass by; or whatever makes you more pathetic, you do them regardless of its consequences.
You wonder what if you were still with him; what if you decided to stay after all he did - would it be less hurting and less miserable? You secretly blame yourself for your misery. You pick up your phone, checking for every few minutes whether he had texted you or called you and left a voicemail. You check your facebook, and read his every status and wall posts, hoping to see a single signal regarding you. But you end up disappointed. You start doing every single pathetic moves you have done over and over again. You go to school, no you don't go to school, cuz you can't understand what the f*ck your teacher is lecturing about now (excuse my french), because all you can think about is him and the memories you have shared with him. The good memories come to your mind and you smile inside [teacher still talking, fellow classmates taking notes thoroughly] but you keep on thinking, trying to make excuse to forgive him and see him again. But you end up disappointed as well, because another side of you knows that what he did was wrong, and it sure knows that he no longer deserves you. But you still love him! Regardless of the bad things he has done, you still like him. Keeping away from him hurts you as much as it hurts him. Oh wait, no, we don't know whether he misses you. Why??? Cuz he still hasn't called you yet! You stop again and think. Consequently, you understand that it is best for you to move on for good - for yourself and without hurting yourself.
You once again exercise, open the books you have thrown in the corner of the shelf, catch up with your classmates, share with your girlfriends about his ass-ness, laugh at how funny the whole stupid crying days were, and open your eyes and understand that he is not the only guy on Earth. You put on your best look and go on a date with a challenging gentleman; get on track and be dangerous and brave again. In the end, you realize how great girl you really were (and are) and understand that it was his loss, not yours, because he calls you as soon as you move on. 

Dumb guys realize the worth of someone when they finally loose one. Sad and silly, but true: boys will be boys. They think they rule the world, but actually it is really in woman's hand and everything depends on our choices. 

What's that word? Yeah - behind every strong man, there is a strong woman. Remember that.

I found this in midst of my diary notes of university era. Simply can't believe I wrote this. lol. Pls, laugh with me :D
Much mature now,

Monday, March 04, 2013

Shopping in Mongolia

[Free Martini drinks for the shoppers in Magasin Du Nord Store, Copenhagen, Denmark]

"Batzul, where should I shop in UB?" "Where can I find a decent pair of shoes, and will they have it for my size?" "Is it that expensive to shop here?" "Are all these LV and luxury bags, which people are wearing in UB real or fake?" Well, these are one of the common questions I get asked from my expat and repat friends. I will not lie and say I have never asked myself the same questions: seriously, where should we shop in UB - Central Tower? UB store? MetroMall? MaxMall? Grand Plaza? 

What People Wear

Mongolia is a tiny country where everybody knows one another, more or less. People, in my opinion, pay enough (sometimes too much) attention to what they wear and what they own. Some people are undeniably gorgeous and really know how to balance fashion and their own style; but some, just do a terrible job at it (i.e.: putting a too white or too brown make-up; wearing a stripper heels, mini skirts and open tops at wrong places; overdressing; underdressing; mixing wrong colors, etc.). 

Wrong dressing gives a wrong impression to people; and sadly, Mongolian girls dress too slutty for my taste. Has the time of mysterious, hidden and lady-like dressing out-of-fashion in UB? Surprisingly, I get comments like: Batzul, why don't you wear mini skirts and tight dresses - show your body! [Utterly mortified] I simply says "No, thank you. That's not me".

If I recall correctly, tight slutty dresses were out of fashion long time ago (at least in Europe), and (FYI) what is in fashion right now is: comfy clothes, loose dresses and bright colors. 

Where People Shop

It is a common knowledge that most fashionable ladies and guys shop abroad. Even the people who live permanently in Mongolia head to Hong Kong, Europe and USA (no longer China - it has become too expensive) once or twice a year for their annual clothing. 

In Ulaanbaatar, however, I, myself, if I really need to buy something (which I rarely do), head to UB store for clothing and shoes. Actually, just Tommy Hilfiger for clothes and 4th floor for shoes. I hate shopping too long, you see, so I'd like to quickly snatch whatever I like, buy it and get the hell out of the place. I am such a dude, I know, even if I look "feminine". It's not about getting a brand clothes. For me, it's about getting few, but a quality clothes - which I believe, Tommy offers fairly, and I am so happy the store is in Mongolia! 

But I'd like to say I'm still disappointed at the shopping possibilities and choices offered to Ulaanbaatarers. I hear that Prada is coming next to Mongolia; but seriously, we can't always shop at Central Tower (i.e.: LV, Burberry, Vertu, Ermenegildo Zegna, Emporio Armani, Hugo Boss, Bang & Olufsen) and get luxurious clothes and accessories all the time. Even the international investors complain about the ridiculous shopping choices here.

What We Should Do

I am watching Mongolian Economic Forum 2013, right now on TV (I am home and sick), and I absolutely support the focus on Mongolian Brands. I have been telling over and over again that the only way to boom properly is to start producing and start selling goods ourselves. Unless we reduce the imports and increase the exports, Mongolia will never boom properly. With that being said, as an individual, I always buy cashmere or woolen socks or shoes for my expat and repat friends to support my Mongolian Industry. I have, however, also stupidly bought a Monel vacuum cleaner once and it sucked (haha), but still, I have a faith in Mongolian economic sectors and I believe that we can escape the resource curse if we really try.

My Vision of Future Shopping Street

Every country has a shopping street. In Ulaanbaatar, do we have any? 3th 4rd horoolol? haha. 

I always imagined that "Urt Tsagaan" street will be our high fashion street. It's perfectly located - central, with parks to sit and relax after shopping, where restaurants and cafes can also open their business on the street. The best part of shopping is definitely sitting down with a cup of a coffee/smoothies with a friend after long hours of shopping/walking - no? Right now, Urt Tsagaan has become a parking spot, and a place where small square meters are rented out to small business owners. 

Why Should We Focus On This?

Since Mongolians are getting richer (ok fine, some people are getting way richer and the rest - not that fast enough) due to the mining boom, people would like to spend their money locally and without the difficulties of going abroad to shop. Shouldn't we focus on keeping the money in Mongolia, not abroad?

I'll leave it to you to ponder.


(ps: it's my hand on the photo. I have been given a free martini, while I was shopping at one store in my beloved Copenhagen city. I wish UB will become as sophisticated and variant as Copenhagen one day!!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Copenhagen InstaWalk Series

I was very humbled to be invited to walk with few of the greatest photographers in Copenhagen. Yes, it's one of the quarterly walks by photographers in Denmark and Sweden, where they simply grab their big fancy camera or simply an iPhone and start walking down the streets. As we walked, we started posting our photos straight to Instagram and started hashtagging: #cphfotowalk01, #visitdenmark, #cph_110812, #cph and #denmark.

I have taken number of meaningless shots and here I'd like to share some of them.

On this photo below: Thomas Sondergaard (@sondergaard), Bobby Anwar (@bobbyanwar), Christina (@cirkeline), and Raphael Solholm (@raphaelsolholm)... and many more are sitting elsewhere.

I wish Ulaanbaatarer Photographers do something like this this summer!!!!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Strynø - an island of boat-makers

This is another photo archive of my summer holidays on Danish island: Strynø (I hope, I'm spelling it, right) - an island of boat makers! Yes, all I've seen were boats, boats being made, boats' museum, boat-makers and some really good Danish beers. 

I took many photos on this island, but I'd like to share just a few of them with you all :)

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Langeland - the longest island in Denmark

I've developed a little obsession with Instagram, lately. Every lunch breaks or whenever I have a free time, I just simply take a shot and put it on Instagram and start hash-tagging - and VOILA, likes likes likes likes. My devotion to photography is also drawing me more to this, since getting a feedback on your works and shots is a great feeling. The only thing I despise of Instagram is the fact that all photos have to be square!! 

Anyways, hope you all like my summer holiday photos of Langeland, Denmark '12 - an island of only few residents: empty beaches, gentle sound of shore waves, birds singing, cherries, clean water and lots of jelly fish :P It was a perfect get-away from my city life.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Pick-pocketing in UB

I have managed to loose two iPhone in Ulaanbaatar in one year. You may think I'm clumsy or careless, but let me tell you that I have never lost anything in 3 years, while I was living in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have, once, accidentally dropped my phone without knowing while I was dancing in my student Friday bars; and a fellow student (a stranger) called a top person on my Favorite list and told my best friend that this phone was laying on the dance-floor. Now, how NICE is that?!

When my friend gave me my phone that night, I was so amazed. Utterly felt gay and confused though - why didn't that stranger just sell it and get approximately 400$ (half price)? I got that stranger's phone-number and offered to pay him some award money, but he simply wanted me to get him some good old draft Carlsberg - that's it. We talked for an hour or two, and I bid him a goodbye with a good hug and yes, we became friends on Facebook :P


Sadly, this doesn't happen in Mongolia. My first iPhone was stolen from my jacket pocket in front of Mungun Zavya Jewelry Store, while I was walking home, listening to music. As I was walking, my music suddenly stopped and it took me few seconds to realize that my jacket pocket felt strangely light - then it hit me. My phone was stolen. I looked back immediately and I looked at the thief straight in the eye. He froze and then he ran for his life, pushing people. I wanted to scream at that thief and say "Hey, that phone is locked to Denmark, and you cannot unlock it, because the software is most up-to-date, and the unlocking code is not out yet!!!" But too late, he was gone. I took out my other unlocked iPhone with Mongolian sim card and called my friend to consult on what to do.

The first thing my friend said was "Offer the thief MONEY!", and I told him "He ran away so fast". Then I asked if I should go to the police and report, and he said, the police will not help, but you could try.

So I went to the center for police against pick-pocketing. There, I told this bored police from where to where I was walking, where exactly I lost it, and I told him that I saw the thief's face. Then the police finally took interest and started giving me this Books of Thieves, full of photos. I looked through all of them. I didn't recognize any of them, and I told him so; then the police said "Ok, I've recorded this incident and I'll contact you if we find anything". I asked him "How high is the probability of finding my phone?" and he quickly said "Very low" and told me to take care of my belongings from now on. Apparently, I shouldn't walk on the street, listening to music - but I told him "It was at a broad day-light!"


The second time I lost my phone was at a karaoke place, in front of the School #1 this December. I was in my Hobby School class re-union New Years Party, where we dined at Oriental Treasure and everybody decided to head to karaoke to sing our hearts out. We went to the karaoke, right in front of the School #1, but it was closed, so we went to another one in the next building. It was a very shady dark karaoke place, where there were not many English songs, but we didn't care - just sang Mongolian and Russian songs one after another. I was having so much fun, and I forgot that I left my phone on the black sofa when we went out. But luckily, I immediately recalled it and I headed back to the room to find my phone after 5 minutes. When I went back in, the room was being cleaned and there was no sign of my phone. I had my friend call it, but it was turned-off (BAD SIGN). I went to the manager and asked for my phone, since it was so obvious that they took it. They started getting angry at us when we offered money and told me that my friends could have stolen it. I simply laughed. Wanted to tell him that we are from Hobby School, but I stopped myself and figured that maybe my classmates took it and was gonna give me back later on. I started calling my classmates who were sitting next to me (bit embarrassed of asking): "Hey, did you accidentally took my phone by chance or did you find a laying phone on the sofa" - I got the same reply "No, sweetie, sorry".

I immediately thought about Denmark incident and was so sad about people stealing other people's belongings like that. It was so obvious that the karaoke place took it, since there were no other clients singing in the same room we went. I looked at the manager and the staff, and I left saying "You guys are so horrible! Hope you will make the most out of it and spend the money on good stuff".


You may be thinking that the karaoke people were innocent, but I know a guilty face when I see one. They were panicking and getting angry. My friend told me to go home and told me that this is Mongolia and it is not worth fighting, really.

I know that times are tough and the gap between rich and poor are getting wider in Mongolia; but why not give back my phone when I'm offering an award money? I offered 100,000MNT and then 200,000MNT later for the sake of the photos and applications; but they kept insisting not to give back my phone.

Loosing two phones in one year was unbelievably unbelievable, and from now on, I'm going to be extremely careful; and by this post, I am warning all the people out there that the pick-pocketing and stealth has become too much in UB.