Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Inner Mongolia

There is something pleasing to say we ate Mongolian Hot Pot in (Inner)Mongolia! And it was sensational!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We arrived early afternoon, our hotel on the outer limits of downtown Hohhot. Our first (wrong) impression was that there was very little there. We were, however, the objects of amazing scrutiny. Being 'older' people travelling with our mid 20's son is an unusual family travelling dynamic, but the blatant stares were a little disconcerting initially. Our son explained that many Chinese from this part of the world would rarely have seen tourists from other countries, let alone a family such as ours. And the fact we were travelling independently too.
We went to the Grasslands the next day, about 150km from Hohhot but an eternity away from civilization and crowds. Discovered Yurtels, our word for the pre-fab rows of concrete yurts (with concrete floors and air conditioning units on the outside)...not the mental picture I had of the fold-up felted numbers I had seen in National Geographic as a kid. Not a cloud in the sky, we saw a 'show' of talented horse people and wrestling...interesting. The journey was outstanding, fantastic roads as we had experienced everywhere else in China.
That night a fabulous Inner Mongolian dinner where we were adopted by a group of Inner Mongolians who were just astounded we had travelled there and that our son was such a good Chinese speaker and good Chinese boy looking after his parents the way he did...another night of too much beer being bought for us as a tribute to our travels.
The next day, we travelled the other direction past coal mines and more working power stations than I ever thought possible! To the desert and sand dunes that just appear out of nowhere. Fantastic! The boys let loose and did a sand slide down a dune and then had to walk back up. We all went in a converted army car, "surfing" the dunes. No OH&S considerations here...old fashioned hold on by the skin of your teeth and keep your fingers crossed....the best part of the journey!
More next time

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