September 30, 2006

The ultimate sadness

One place in Baikonur is for me almost symbolic of this town. And one of the most depressing and sad. I come across this place occasionally when I wander through the streets on a day off work, like today.

Alongside the Syr Darya river is a small attraction park. Well, 'attraction park' is a pretty big word for it. It has a ferris wheel, a mini-mini-roller coaster and a few more of such things. What's more, it's deserted. Completely. The first time I passed it, on my first day back in May, there was music playing from croaky loudspeakers - making the image of a ghost town even stronger.

Baikonur portrays this image in a lot of places. Apart from the main street, the arbat, and the local market, the streets are pretty empty and many buildings are vacated. The fact that I'm writing about it again is also a sign that this impression of a town nearing its end is quite strong.

The stories I hear about the town and the locals reinforce this. It used to have over 100.000 inhabitants. Only a third of that remains. The Russians are getting ready to pull out, the Russian civilians are looking at ways to go back to the 'homeland'. I really do wonder what will be left after that process completes...

{update @ 3/10: just as I thought that my discovery would certainly be the saddest amusement park ever, Gridskipper Tokyo comes up with a competitor}


daniel leussink said...

hey mathilde,
again cool photos!

baikonur sounds like a very bizarre and very special place. surreal in comparison to many other places on earth. it would be very cool to take photos there - its a good theme for a book !

machiruda said...

hey daniel! How's London? I'm impatiently awaiting stories on your blog...!

A book, huh? Now there's a thought - although I think I need to learn Russia first to be able to discover this place properly!