Ghost Apartments of Ordos
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Chinese ghost cities came to prominence after the release of an Al Jazeera article in the mid 2000’s. This story exposed issues pertaining to a supposed failed multi billion dollar urban development being constructed to relocate and house thousands of farmers from rural areas, but the farmers never arrived. Now construction appears to have completely ceased, leaving what appears to be hundreds of half built empty, derelict housing developments dotted around the regions outskirts. Cranes rust away on incomplete building rooftops, tumble weeds roll down empty roads and trucks and earth moving machinery sit idle, unused and gathering dust on barren construction sites. A very informative documentary titled ‘The Land of Many Palaces’ explains the regions more intricate political and socio economic issues, but as someone who is fascinated by urban space (especially sparse urban space), this place sounded like heaven to me. So I booked a ticket to Beijing and took a side trip to Ordos to check things out for myself.
The region of Ordos is split into two areas being the actual town of Ordos and the new municipality of Kangbashi which sits approximately 30 kilometers away. Ordos itself is moderately populated with traffic on roads and businesses operating just like any normal rural Chinese town. But in contrast, the new municipality of Kangbashi remains moderately empty with vast housing developments being void of life. Clusters of empty, hollow apartment blocks loom on the desert horizon, crumbling away as a few years of no maintenance and harsh desert weather has begun to take its toll. But with all this talk of abandonment it is important to note that the inner town centre of Kangbashi does have a slow yet growing population (there is even a shopping mall and a McDonalds). But as you stroll further away from this area, the people get fewer and far between and after a while, completely disappear, leaving only your camera, the wind and the tumble weeds to keep you company...so it suited me just fine :)