Twenty years after the Soviets left, Darkhan is making its way on its own. There is construction everywhere, but mostly in the southern newer section and in the thin area between the new and old. Religion, which was discouraged for seventy five years, is making a comeback. And although the old public market seems to be very busy, so do several small shopping centers, where many vendors have small shops or businesses. There are even a few mega-stores, similar to our Best Buys and Targets—BSD Electronics and Nomins. The offerings are similar to what can be found in the US, though the choices are more limited and the prices for higher-end electronics are very high, most likely because there is little competition. (The prices for software are very low—19,000₮ or about $13.50 for a full version of Photoshop or InDesign. That is another story though.)
Although I have had conversations with Mongolians about the changes since "the market economy," the actual way that it is fleshed out here still seems like it has room for expansion. As in Khovd, there are rows of vendors who are selling identical products at what seem to me like identical prices. Meat, produce, flour each have their section in the market and I can't as a foreigner see any differentiating features in their products. In the shopping centers, there are signs of modern advertising, such as an appeal to longings for Russian baking or using the popularity of Barack Obama to sell, say, cameras. I have no way to know if this is working.