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The Ghost City Of Unfulfilled Dreams

 The Ghost City Of Unfulfilled Dreams

With a population of over a billion, you would expect that China won’t have an inch of space to move around freely. The most populous country in the world is expected to have cities which are drowned amidst huge crowds, where you can’t be alone on a street for more than 30 seconds. Enter the Ghost City of China, Kangbashi New Area in Ordos City and eliminate this misconception. Formerly assumed to be one of the most treasured parts of Inner Mongolia, the city is now its most deserted metropolis. It was designed to be inhabited by more than a million people but just over 20,000 people live there. You think you got the picture? Wait till you hear more about it.
Owing to major real estate boom, innumerable builders and developers made quick millions in the country. Inspired by this phenomenal growth, more investments were made in the form of skyscrapers and dream cities, which will scale new mountains of prosperity and bring global recognition. Ordos City is one of those dreams which went wrong. Debts, missed deadlines, delayed projects, investor mistrust and high price meant that nobody was ready to buy, leading to empty buildings.
Like any other metropolis, Ordos has a fabulous airport. The airport terminal boasts of fountains, artistic sculptures, hanging baskets and tastefully designed interiors with escalators and chic cafes, but hardly anyone can be seen. Right from the airport to the transfer coach, the amenities and the quality of facilities is top notch. Upon witnessing almost empty roads on the way to the city centre, you get a feeling that people are too busy to be outdoors, but when you cross a huge half constructed stadium, with 40 story high cranes hanging over it like vultures, a sinking feeling slips in.
Although Ordos is almost completely built, with a lot of cafes, restaurants, bars, sex shops and even casinos, the image of huge empty buildings, apartments and shopping malls in the background is haunting. That little bunch of prostitutes was the biggest crowd one could spot. It is almost as if the city is like a grand carnival, ready to welcome the guests who are nowhere to be seen. The opulence of the hotel room augments this feeling of being alone in the ghostly city.
But this part of Ordos is not the real ghost town. Kangbashi New Area, the sub-city meant to deal with the problem of the hypothetical increase in potential buyers, is the real Ghost Town. Strange architecture and huge sculptures of Mongolian legends, including that of Ghenghis Khan welcome visitors to this 355 square kilometre ‘residential’ town, of which 98% is either unconstructed or abandoned. Even as property prices have gone down from $1100 to $470 per sq. feet, people are just not ready to get settled here. And many of those who had bought houses earlier are either abandoning them or trying desperately to make a sale.
The site of an empty temple whose doors are still wrapped in plastic, restaurant staff which is eager to serve their best to tourists, but can only wait and the empty sidewalks where the only human population you can see is of sanitation staff, paints a sorry and scary picture of solitude. On a positive note, the dream of local authorities of creating a global tourist destination is picking up slowly, as the city is gaining popularity, even if it is as a Ghost City. If you are planning to shoot a film on apocalypse, this could be the ideal location. Although you must hurry up, as the town is almost ready to come alive with residents, at least that is what the locals are hoping for.

Sumit Panwar

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