Ordos City(The Chinese Ghost Town)

On August 17, 2011, in Tours, Transportation, by Jack Li

Ordos Shi is one of the twelve major subdivisions of Inner Mongolia, China. It is located within the Ordos Loop of the Yellow River. If you are planning your China Travel and you have already booked your China Flight, you should come to see this modern town. It is officially a prefecture-level city but the shì (for “city”) here specifies the city’s urban area as well as its other administrative divisions. The seat of government is at Dongsheng District. Ordos City proper is a new town being built in the west-center of the region
south of Baotou.

The Ordos Shi was founded on 26 February 2001 on the basis of the former Yeke Juu league a name used for the area since the 17th Century. “Ordos” means “palaces” in the Mongolian language; the name is sometimes claimed to be related to the eight white yurts of Genghis Khan. Linguistically, the Ordos dialect of Mongolian is quite different from neighboring Chakhar. Ordos is known for its lavish government projects, including the new Ordos City, a city of exquisite buildings and abundant infrastructure seldom used by residents.

It’s been called the Dubai of northern China, showered with wealth, packed with public infrastructure and located near to precious natural resources in a region plagued by water-supply troubles. But the urban center of Ordos City, known as ‘Kangbashi New Area’, has been mostly deserted for five years. Kangbashi isn’t a ghost town due to economic issues, contamination or any other common cause of such abandonment, is just that people are very difficult to convince to move

Built for 1 million people and currently inhabited by just a few thousand. Kangbashi is filled with brand new buildings. One apartment building after another perches on the edge of streets that rarely see traffic, skyscrapers stand empty and over $5 billion worth of public buildings are unused and unstaffed. One notable architectural project, the Ordos Art Museum, was the first structure to go up in the new civic center. Its ethereal location on a stretch of sand dunes along a lake makes it all the more visually striking. But this 29,000-square-foot exhibition and research space is just accumulating dust until the city’s hoped-for residents move in.

Even now, construction on Kangbashi homes, businesses and public buildings still continues. City officials are confident that it’s just a matter of time before many of the 1.5 million residents of Ordos proper, who live 15 miles away in the old section of town, see the light. The Ordos city government has already moved its offices there, but that’s the extent of life in the new town.

So why don’t people want to live here, in a sparkling state-of-the-art city filled with modern architecture? Mostly, for now, moving to Kangbashi is an inconvenience. The new district is a thirty-minute drive from the old district where the bulk of Ordos residents still live, and the slow pace of relocation has stalled important supporting services like restaurants and markets.

Despite the current  silence of its streets, it’s probably safe to say that Kangbashi won’t be empty for long. Book your Air China flights as soon as possible to come to this amazing country.

Jack Li

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