The Kangbashi New District of Ordos in Inner Mongolia has for the last decade been known as the world’s largest ghost town. I was really curious to see and explore this place after I heard stories about walking through completely empty office buildings and apartment blocks and shopping malls where all the elevators and lights work, yet there are no people around. It’s an overnight train ride from where I live and when I got there, I found that it could no longer be called a ghost town. Though the vast majority of buildings and streets in the New District are still empty (the nearby Dongsheng district of Ordos has never, to my knowledge, been empty), it seems people are slowly moving in to Kangbashi.
Genghis Khan in Genghis Khan Square – the center of Kangbashi, Ordos.
Genghis Khan Square
Tourists in GK Square.
Mongolian war horse statue in GK Square.
Mostly empty, but not completely unoccupied.
Kids playing at the top of Genghis Khan Square – massive government complex in the back.
Boys playing basketball in the library court.
Man-made Wulanmulun Lake at the bottom of Genghis Khan Square. Most events and nightlife happen around here.
Daily and nightly fountain shows at the lake.
There were a couple thousand people here at Wulanmulun Lake on a Monday night.
Does this look like a ghost town?
We stopped for ice cream in this “Italian Ice Cream” shop. These boys were about to walk in but when they saw us they stopped. They huddled outside the door discussing what to do. They walked through the shop to the other side and asked the waitress where we were from. She told them she didn’t know. They finally asked us. They were stoked.
Ordos Fire Department doing drills.
While there was a decent flow of cars on the street, there were virtually no pedestrians. Per capita GDP in Ordos is said to be the highest in China and it seems most people have cars.
“Stay on the Mass Line, be intimate with the masses.”
If you lived in Ordos, you could be home by now!
“Socialist Core Value System – Wealth and Power, Democracy, Civilization, Harmony, Freedom, Equality, Fairness, Rule of Law, Patriotism, Dedication, Honesty, Friendliness.”
“Conscientiously study and implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech on his observations on Inner Mongolia and the spirit of the 18th 3rd Plenum.” Say that 3 times fast.
“I love my hometown’s civilized ways. Hand in hand collectively build a civilized city.”
Ads for Ordos liquor everywhere.
One of the confounding things about Ordos/China in one bus stop. On the left you have a poster with a hammer and sickle saying “persist in carrying out the Party’s mass line. Serve the people with all your heart and mind.” Communism is a philosophy that operates on the collective ownership of land and the means of production. On the right you have a poster from the local government saying “strive to make a livable, workable, travel friendly city. Maintain property with the city. With property, the city prospers.”
Check out the huge murals along the riverbanks…
This red 富fu character seemed to be in almost every occupied window.
Many building sites are still open enough to walk through.
Guard dog. He was small but loud. Too loud.
Other neighborhoods such as “Civilized Neighborhood” here (文明小区) were bustling.
This food court was very busy…
…this mall next door was empty.
“Red Neckscarf Street” – worn by the Young Pioneers. There’s a big primary/middle school to the right.
Waiting for the bell…
Help wanted, locksmith, for rent and for sale signs. Business is happenin’.
Ordos Museum. Gunny’s remarks come to mind – “you’re so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece.”
The Great Theater of Ordos.