Ulaanbaatar is the capital and largest
city in Mongolia. To fully get an idea of what it’s like to drive
(and park) there you need to understand a few things about the city’s
history. Mongolia used to be a Soviet satellite and most of the city
was designed and built in the Soviet style during this time. People
couldn’t freely move where ever they wanted so the city was designed
for a static population of 600,000. The idea that the city would grow
and that they would need to plan for this growth wasn’t really
considered. Also the idea that every single person who lived in the
city would own a car was perfectly ridiculous. So the city streets
are narrow and small and parking is extremely limited.
Mongolia gained its freedom with the collapse of the Soviet Union and with that freedom came an influx of people to the capital. The current population is officially 1.3 million but more realistic estimates put it closer to 1.7 million people. That’s half the population of the country. In a city designed for much less.
Traffic is crazy, to say the least. It can take 30 minutes to travel 3 miles. Congestion is just normal over there. And parking? Like I said, there is parking, just not much. So what do you do if you can’t find a parking space? You double park. What I mean is, if two cars are already parked in a parking space you park in front of them. You block them in.
Now before you get all upset and start
talking about how you would key up any car that blocked you in, let
me explain how this works in Mongolian car culture. Every single car
owner puts their phone number in the lower corner of their
windshield. Everyone does it. Everyone does it because everyone
double parks at some point. It’s just something Mongolians do.
So what do you do if you come back to
your car and see that you are blocked in? You look on the windshield,
call the number, and say “Hey, move your car.” The people who
double park are always nearby. You only have to wait a few minutes
and because you yourself have to double park from time to time there
is no anger or road rage toward the person who blocks you in.