Archive for September, 2014
The massive square in downtown Ulaanbaatar was re-named Chinggis Khaan Square, but like many other people I’m still in the habit of calling it Sukhbaatar Square. One local said to me, “We don’t have to name every place after Chinggis Khaan. There are other important people in Mongolian history“.
The square needs to be broken up and softened with trees and other organic design elements, in my opinion. The Brutalist, Stalinist-style architecture is cold and uninviting. And why, in Mongolia of all places, does the central square so thoroughly seek to obliterate any relationship to the beauty of the natural landscape?
But as with so many things, beauty and ugliness are two-sides of the same coin.
Walking through the space, it is easy to become disconnected from your surroundings and fellow citizens — and maybe this was the goal of communist architecture. The weight of the nation state feels heavy on one’s psyche…and a feeling (bordering on melancholy) arises upon the realization that mankind’s desire to produce something grand and transcendent has fallen short.
Yet there are other times I walk this square and its Cartesian vectors, carved from the dense and chaotic urban environment of Ulaanbaatar (itself carved from the eurasian steppe’s montane grassland and scrubland ecozone), place the human mind, and it’s role in the evolution of the universe, into sharp resolution.
And for that I am grateful.
By Forest Sun Schumacher
I took this photo of Ingrid Serban biking through Samuel P. Taylor park in West Marin. Shot with my iPhone 5gs. Drove to the park with the bikes on the rack. A mellow afternoon ride on Cross Marin Trail. Cruising through the redwoods along Lagunitas Creek. The road is flat most of the way and only about 8 miles round trip, so the ride goes by fast but leaves you feeling satisfied. No traffic and hardly any one else on the trail. Love it! Many of my fondest memories in life are on a bicycle.
If you ever find yourself in Hatgal, Mongolia — New Roots Cafe is the place to go for espresso drinks.
Seeing the Italian Mazzer grinder, I knew I stumbled into the right place.
The barista took her sweet time grinding and tamping the beans, pulling the shot, and heating and pouring the milk — which made for a lovely cappuccino.
Next visit, I hope to have time for a full breakfast here.