Inner Mongolia Travel Blog› entry 12 of 13 › view all entries
July 21st, 2008 – by: agarfrerick
Our bus took us to Beijingxi (Beijing West) train station, where we caught the K89 to Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia. The train wasn't as nice as the previous Z-series train I had taken to Shanghai, but it was livable. Beds were stacked three high, and there were no private compartments, but it got the job done. Once we got to Hohhot, we met up with our other guide for the week, Susan, a 24-year old girl who was from the area and spoke decent English. She took us to the bus, where we met our driver Mr. Li...this guy was awesome! He was such a character, and although he spoke no English, he was extremely nice, animated, and always fought to get us the deal when there was bargaining involved.
Once we got there, I was amazed at the scenery. It was so different from anything else in China! there was just a vast expanse of rolling grasslands, with a blazing sun, beautiful sky, and comfortable breeze. The place we were staying was comprised of "yurts" as rooms, which are like circular teepees (although ours were dressed up a bit more like hotel rooms), and a main lodge. We recieved a traditional Mongolian song and dance upon arrival, and then enjoyed a nice lunch in the lodge. Most of the food is similar to most Chinese food, although there tends to be more bread and dairy products (especially at breakfasts).
After trotting back to where the horses stay, we went to a little arena where we saw a show with a horse race and stunt-riders doing some crazy tricks on their horses. It was a pretty cool show, although there was one scary moment when one of the female trick riders missed a transfer from her male counterpart and fell off the horse onto the track. But she was ok. There were TONS of Asian tourist there trying to take pictures of us. I am just resigned to the fact that we are like celebrities over here. Asian guys look pretty funny in cowboy hats by the way. We went back for dinner, which was pretty similar to lunch, and then got dressed in some warmer clothes (since it gets cold at night out there) for the bonfire and musical dance show.
The next morning, we got up, had breakfast (more milk tea), and got on the bus to head for the Gobi desert. It was a long drive, but I caught up on some reading. We stopped in Baotou for lunch, and it was really enjoyable. Baotou is a very clean and organized city with a big mining and manufacturing industry (actually the largest city in Inner Mongolia). I think the Russians acutally helped build and develop the city back in the day.
After the rain stopped, we got two rides down the dune slide, which was basically a large dune that they had maintained to ride little wooden sleds down. It was pretty fun, although the sand tends to get in your face if you don't cover up. Overall, the trip to the desert was well worth it. I think the rain just made it that much more interesting. We then hopped on the bus and Mr. Li took us back to Hohot. When we got there, Daniel let us know that we would be staying the night in a 5-star hotel, the nicest one in Inner Mongolia! He wasn't lying, this place was awesome. Nice plump beds, bathrobes, plasma-screen TV, all the amenities.
The next morning, we also got a wonderful buffet breakfast. The waffles pretty much made my day. We spent the rest of the morning checking out some temples in the city. Daniel had left that morning, so Susan took us around and told us what everything was. After a nice lunch (although very similar to what we had been eating all weekend) we visited some nice tomb thingy (not sure who it was) which also had a museum on Hun culture. It was fairly interesting. Doesn't compare to the grasslands or desert though. The rest of the day included a shopping mall, dinner, and heading ot the train station. Pretty uneventful, but necessary in the progression of getting back home. We said our goodbyes to Mr.
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