I am going to rant. I am sorry but there is just no way around it… The traffic here sucks . Badly. And not in the mild in “we have to wait for a bit” way that you find that you find in North America. I think the problem might stem from the fact that no one in Asia seems to know how to queue (um… line up for all you Americans out there) and so when driving they try to push to the front in any way that they can. That doesn't work all too well with cars. I suspect that it didn't work too well a few years ago when they let donkey carts go through the city (it has been only four years since cattle and horses were banned from the city center). Of course that doesn't mean that you don’t see them. Every once in awhile the van that I take to school is held up by a small herd of cows. I think another contribution to the insanity might be the fact that there are tons of people coming in from the countryside who don’t know how to drive. Or know where they are going. Ulaanbaatar is basically one large maze. I have been lost many times on foot. I can’t imagine coming in and immediately having to find my way in a car!
Anyhow, back to the fact that traffic is more than mildly horrifying… To give you an example of how bad things are I live about a mile away from school. The other day it took the school van almost an hour to get to my apartment building. It is times like those that I miss the village in Alaska. 9 and a half minutes of walking and I was home, baby! I would walk to and from school but would mean taking my life in my hands every time I tried to cross the “Black Market” Road. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here. The cars not only will run you over they actively aim to run you over!
Rumor has it that traffic this year is much worse that last year. Boo! Someone told me that there are 200,000 cars on the roads in Ulaanbaatar. The city’s roads are not meant to handle that kind of traffic. There are suppose to be 50.000 more cars in the next couple of years. Thank God I don’t drive here! Walking is bad enough! You sort of have to cross the road in stages. Cross one half and wait in the middle of the road with cars buzzing past you a foot or so away and pray that eventually there will be enough of a break for you to make it to the other side in one piece. I try to follow other people in the hope that a crowd will be less likely to be flattened. Plus, they are much braver than I am and if I didn't go with them I would never work up the nerve to get to the other side!
Don’t get me wrong. Life here has been really good if slightly twilight zoney. I just wish that crossing the road was as simple for me as that damn chicken makes it out to be…