Saturday, November 2, 2013

Inner Mongolia - Xilamuren Grassland 希拉穆仁草原



Before my friend and I decided on Mongolia, this was a name I never seen or heard in my life. 
And I did not know Mongolia was separated into inner Mongolia (which is in China and its main capital Huhehaote 呼和浩特 and Mongolia ( which is another country and its main capital is known as Ulaanbaatar). The former using Chinese characters because its bordered on the China borders while the latter using Монгол улс (Mongolian) because its bordered on the Russian borders.




 

Reaching Beijing from Singapore after a delayed in flight, we were a little worried about not having
enough time to collect our overnight train tickets which I had got my friend in China to help me book
first. So once we touched down, we ran to the shuttle bus Line 3 that will drop us at 
railway station for our overnight train ride. (its open 7am to 12 midnight - How wonderful right)
And ran to the railway station which by then was packed with lots of people and long queues and 
of course, people cutting queues. Thankfully there were 2 of us, so I stood in one and she stood in 
another. We finally got our tickets despite the hiccups because of incorrect names.  

[ Yes. The overnight train ride from Beijing to Huhhot still exists. Online there were rumors saying 
it was closed and I'm thankful my friend found this K89 Leaving the station nicely at 21:00 and arrives
at huhhot at 7.20am ]

 

As usual I love the overnight trains in China and had a great rest - 11 hours was just nice - and we could save on accommodation. (The trick for backpackers *)  We finally arrived in abbreviated Hohhot 呼市 。 Coming out from the station and still being able to understand the words was a consolation to me - 
We quickly went in search of Bag baggage in the train station so we could leave our unnecessary belongings there while we went to Xilamuren Grassland 希拉穆仁草原. We decide on this rather than the other 2 Huitenxile Grassland and Gegentala Grassland because my research seems to indicate this grassland is the nearest.



 

 

So off we went to the Long Distance Bus Station. Bought tickets and hop on the bus to Zhaohe 召河 (with the jam and all, we managed to get there in 2.5 hours.) The scenery entering the site was breathtaking though)

Dried corn


Sunflowers. As if they were saying hello. (Felt like I was back in France)
 
















Bee Boxes I would suppose.


Awwwww....



 The bus stops at a place where all the tourist gers are and for most, its easiest to just stop there especially so if you can't speak Chinese. But since I could, I wanted to go for the most authentic ger camp. So we went along the route. But suddenly at a place with nothing, the bus stopped. So we came down and people came approaching us with their gers. I was suspicious. So I went around asking but no one could give me an answer. Getting a little worried, I looked at my friend and asked if she wanted to just go along with the ger this lady was promising.

Thankfully, my friend said, lets check out the areas around. AND we found the supposed tourism board that showed all the prices and the nice lady at the counter also helped us call around to find out about the places and the pricing.
We finally settled on one. And the young owner came to pick us in his car and drove at 200km/hr back to his ger camp (my hair was in another shape by the time I reached lol).

Not too sure if its a sad thing, but his ger camp was not the authentic kind but the man made kind.








The reason why I said I'm not too sure if it was a sad thing, was because I don't think we would have liked the authentic ger (after we saw some of them along the way the following day).
Ours was clean and comfortable and it had a bathroom. And the scenery around was fantastic!

 



The scenery outside my room


 


Lunch was very comfortable. We ate and lie on the floor and chit chat throughout the day.
The Genkhis Ghan photo that every ger will have. Its like their president.





And after resting for sometime, we made our way outside for exploration.
You can ride a horse. But both of us love walking and I personally don't really fancy riding horses.
Unless really necessary. (Like it was in Mexico)






After walking for about an hour, we reach this prayer place that had such peace to it.
We stayed there talking and enjoying the breeze for about 2 hours before making our way back.























Because there was also a tour group, we got to enjoy dancing in the night around a camp fire with real life performances. But Brr.. it was too cold to stand out there for too long.





The next day morning, we had to make our way back to Huhhot.
But since we were no longer money making to them, they told us to walk back to the town and told us to hike to an area over a small hill to wait for the bus.
But after waiting for about 1 hour but still having no buses heading back to huhhot, and we attracting weird drivers in cars, we decide to walk ahead. Eventually we ended up walking for about an hour. Guess what, all the buses that came were packed to its brim.
(Okay. Now I was really worried.)
So we made a decision to walk much further ahead following the route of the bus (walking for another hour or so) , we finally manage to get on the bus.
Thankfully I had a friend who is okay with walking too.

(So if you're traveling with people that can't walk, I'll say, just join a tour group. Unless you have time to wait)








Stay tune next for our trip in Huhhot and next to Er Lian.

1 comment:

  1. I also went to Inner Mongolia and had a similar problem to you with findings real yurts. In the end it all went well and i now try sending other tourists to the family out there in the grasslands!
    If you want to try it out you can visit our website http://anthropolodgy.com/
    I don't do this for money. Just as a small experiment and for fun. So 100% of the money stays with the locals!

    ReplyDelete

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