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.