A Shipping Container Shopping Mall Booms on the Modern Silk Road

In the shipping container mall of Dordoi market, Kyrgyzstan, upper containers are stockrooms for shops below. (Photograph by Paul Salopek)

The Dordoi bazaar near Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, looms out of the muddy Central Asian steppe like a shabby moon base. Like a weird modular fortress. Like a sly architectural pun.

If a chicken farm were to be tucked inside a giant egg, or if a funeral parlor were to operate from within a casket, you would approach the bizarre poetry of Dordoi—one of the largest open-air markets in Asia built almost entirely from perhaps 30,000 recycled shipping containers.

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Meet the Author
Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s 21,000-mile Out of Eden Walk is a multiyear experiment in slow journalism. Moving at the beat of his footsteps, Salopek is walking the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and made the Earth ours. Along the way he is covering the major stories of our time—from climate change to technological innovation, from mass migration to cultural survival—by giving voice to the people who inhabit them every day. His words, as well as his photographs, video, and audio, are creating a global record of human life at the start of a new millennium as told by villagers, nomads, traders, farmers, soldiers, and artists who rarely make the news. Join the journey at outofedenwalk.org and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @OutofEdenWalk.