The term “ghost town” has various meanings in different parts of the world. Most often, it’s a town that lived and died with a boom-and-bust cycle, or as a result of catastrophe. In China, however, ghost towns like Ordos City were built for people who never lived there to begin with.
China’s ghost towns are known for more than their lack of people. These huge developments were envisioned by the government as blank canvasses for architects, their visions brought to life in contoured brick, marble ledges, and wide expanses of smooth tile.
In other words, the Chinese government built the biggest, most elegant skate parks in the world.
Before you pack a board and some tight jeans and move to Ordos City, it’s good to understand what you’re getting yourself into.
“Kids are like, ‘Let’s move there. It’s a skate paradise!’” director Charles Lanceplaine says about the reaction to his newest skate film, Ordos. “But there’s nothing to do there. There are no restaurants or anything. There’s one night club. We tried to go but no one was there.”
I understand their unchecked enthusiasm. When I watched skaters popping off swooping brick sculptures surrounded by wide-open expanses of totally unpopulated concrete, I started to check airfare myself.