Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

The Mall of Asia

I just had one my more bazaar (heh) shopping experiences of at the colossal and labyrintyne Dordoi shopping center. I was born and raised in the walks of the Mall of America, but Dordoi dwarfs that complex.

Imagine thousands of identical shops, each with an entrance 8′ x 8.5′, plenty of storage space in back and a secure metal door that seals the opening. The stores stack tidily and can be easily transported by train. Any guesses? They’re actually shipping containers. An even better example of the kinds of capital-free development than the shared taxies.

It’s huge. You can (we did) wander for hours down scores of narrow (much too narrow) corridors. One can buy anything at Dordoi shy of livestock – Kyrgyzstan has special bazaars for those guys. But you want food, fans (got one), soap, furniture, or more clothes than you could shake a forest of sticks at, and this is your place. Folks come all the way down from Almaty across the border in Kazakstan to mop up the bargains.

The clothes are mostly crap; low quality Chinese or mid-quality Turkish productions, but there is the Holy Grail: a lot of European designer labels can be found here. Most of them are fake fake fake, but since the same Chinese shops supplying Louis Vutton are making this stuff we see in Dordoi, one can occasionally find some clothes that are genuine, or so close that no one can tell the difference.

That kind of knock-off begs all kinds of questions on the nature of buying goods as prestige items, but that’s a different post for a different day.

Anyway, several hours of dodging huge carts thundering down the narrow alleys risking your life and ankles was more than enough for me; also, the sight of all the 10 year old children hawking food and pop gets to be a bit of a downer. Still, fascinating place.

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