Travel in Inner Mongolia
We joined a tour to Inner Mongolia in June 2015 from Hong Kong. We went to Xilamuren grassland by a tour bus arranged by the tour once we arrived Hohhot Airport in Inner Mongolia, China.
We stayed one night in a modern yurt in area ‘gu lie yan’ in Xilamuren grassland. It was built with concrete and had modern bed, air-conditioning and toilet inside the yurt. But the toilet was stinking and the hot water supply was not stable. We just came from city to the grassland and couldn’t adjust so we use hot water to ‘sterilize’ the toilet and went to bed without a shower.
There was a restaurant from the yurt with a 5 minutes’ walk. We had all our meals in the restaurant when we were in Xilamuren grassland. The restaurant provided fried vegetables, white steamed bread, fried To Fu, watery gruel but I was not quite used to the food.
There were always extra foods or program which had to pay extra fees in the tour. Maybe the local guide ‘zhao’ had to depend on the commission from the extra fees so he persuaded us to order a ‘roast lamb’ with extra charges. The roast lamb was quite expensive (RMB$230). The lamb was roasted dry and crispy and even charred with tasteless poached meat inside and dry meat outside. Some of our tour friends already got rid of the chopstick and ate the lamb with bare hands excitingly but some didn’t like the taste of the lamb and stop eating after a few bites. Everyone had their own taste.
I like the ‘Snow Ground sour clotted milk’ best. It was sold for RMB$15 on the grassland, RMB$7 in the tourist area in the city and RMB$5 in a supermarket in down town…
Xilamuren grassland was far away from cities and it was a good place to see the stars. But there was a full moon when we were in the grassland and the brightest star is the moon. I still could manage to see the Big Dipper and it was really like a spoon!
It would be a good idea to visit the grassland on dry season without a full moon for stargazing.
The sun went down at 2100 and rise up at 0530 in June in Inner Mongolia. It was very cold before sun rise. The herdsmen were chasing horses with a motor bike instead of riding horses. Modern age came to the grassland too…
The temperature rises up immediately after sun rise. I felt so warm when I was under sun. The golden sun with a blue sky and the riding horses with flying dust; it was such an exotic picture from Mongolia!
I was expecting riding a horse on the grassland. It was an extra activity with 2 stops for 1 hour per person for RMB$260, 4 stops for 2 hours per person for RMB$400+, 4 stops for 2 hours for 2 people for RMB$400+. I joined the cheapest 1 hour horse riding and accompany with 1 friend from the tour and 1 couch. There was 1 couch with 6 riders in the 2 hours group.
The herdsmen’s home was a viewpoint. We can taste some home-made milk products. The lady herdsman said she was a Mongolian and started learning Chinese when she was in primary school but still spoke in Mongolian with the elderlies. There were around 2000 people in her tribe and they owned a workshop which hand-made milk products but not selling milk. I like the hand-made milk products and their stories here more than the factory-made milk products which were sold in the grassland restaurant.
It was very comfortable sitting on the horse back if it walked slowly. I saw the white sheep were drinking water by the river; the eagles were flying under the blue sky; I was nearly a knight if I had a sword…
There was not enough time to visit 2 viewpoints if the horses walk slowly. The couch gave an order and the horses ran immediately. I have to half-sit and it was like sitting on a roller coaster. The couch shouted excitingly, ‘Is it GREAT!?’ I couldn’t answer him under the strong wind and using all my muscles to keep balance and holding the horse. I couldn’t walk the other day with sour pain legs, arms and back. But it was so fascinate when I got to the height of a horse back and feel the wind when it runs.
We went to ‘Fu Sha Dao’ dessert hotel in Kubuqi Desert the other day. It was a newly developed tourist area. There were hotels, restaurants and even SWIMMING POOLS!
It was an open air swimming pool with ice cold water. The sand was blown into the pool and from a small dessert INSIDE the pool with the large real dessert OUTSIDE the pool. It was quite a scene.
And the sand sculpture area nearby consumed lots of water to solidify the sand.
I felt a bit guilty because the hotel area had consumed lots of resources for the accommodations and entertainments for tourists like us.
All the facilities in the desert were built on wooden low platform. The young actors were returning to their yurt after a show and one of them were whipping his bullwhip in the air with a crackled voice. I was distracted by the crackled noise and stepped on a rotten wood and lost my balance. I could see myself turn an 180 angle and fell on the ground. I walked like a mermaid with blood come out from my palm and knee and the sour pain from riding horse…
‘Sandboarding’ was arranged in the tour. We have to slide down 20+ floors of sand with a wooden board. It was a shame that I had to give up sandboarding because there were too many little hurts all over me so the elder friends in the tour who quit sandboarding too and me were waiting for the next move at the top of the 20+floors of sand.
The local tour guide Zhao and the guide from Hong Kong did not familiar with this newly developing resort. Zhao said we had to walk down 20+ floors to the bottom of the sand dune because there were no shuttle buses to the hotel from the sand dune. Zhao leave quickly because he has to accompany the other tour friends who slide down the sand dune already. There was a bit concern for the elderly tour friends to walk down 20+ floors of sand dune.
The tour guide from Hong Kong, Hook was bargaining with the jeep drivers nearby when we were discussing the situation. Hook was a nice person with smile on his face all the time but he was a bit impetuous by the urging questioning tour friends and the over-charging jeep drivers. He said to the jeep driver with a bit of anger, ‘OK! RMB$300 that’s it, just DRIVE!’
The spanning from the ground and the jeep was a bit too high for the elderly tour friends. We all push and pull and luckily got all of us squeeze into the small jeep. It was like a roller coaster when the jeep drove over a sand dune and we pass MANY sand dunes on the way to the hotel.
The ‘Fu Sha Dao’ dessert hotel was built by concrete and like a modern hotel with modern bed, air-conditioning and toilet. All the facilities were brand-new because it was just newly opened. The room and the hotel restaurant was just 5 minutes walking.
We ate breakfast and dinner buffet in the restaurant. The restaurant had made their best effort to leave as less leftover as they could. There was no food refill except fruits. We have to treasure food in desert.
I really love the barley tea in the restaurant. The little white grains soaked into a crystal jar after light fried and it was so delicious! The restaurant manager said this barley tea was sold in the local supermarket for RMB$30-40 but it was a shame that I hadn’t seen one throughout the whole trip in Inner Mongolia.
I was looking forward to stargazing in the dark dessert but the dessert was RAINING that night! Well, it just gave me a perfect excuse to come back to the dessert again;)
We visited Mausoleum of Genghis Khan the other day near Ordos City which was far away. We spend the whole day on the bus with a 4 hours’ drive to the site then another 4 hours’ drive back with a speed limit of 70 km/h on highway in Inner Mongolia.
The Mongolians was practicing secret burial. No one knew the exact location of Genghis Khan tomb. The ‘Mausoleum of Genghis Khan’ we visited was just a modern building built recently.
I didn’t have much interest in modern buildings target on tourists and I was attracted by a bill board written ‘Ce Ge Horse Milk’. I had never tried horse milk so I slipped into the yurt beside the bill board and bought a glass of horse milk with RMB$25. The horse milk was white and taste sour at first but sweet after swallow. I like it but most of my tour friends frowned and said, ‘it’s ok…’ after they tried the horse milk and drank water immediately…
Horse milk was a seasonal beverage and I had never seen horse milk was provided during my stay in Inner Mongolia except Mausoleum of Genghis Khan.
The local guide Zhao drove us to the theatre after Mausoleum of Genghis Khan. It was an extra show with extra charges. We couldn’t stay in the tour bus because we didn’t pay to see the show and was sent out from the bus under strong wind and drizzle. The Mongolia little garden, the blue flowery pattern on the white walls, the black charcoal behind the kitchens, the white cloud under the blue sky and the green tress were all amazingly beautiful but we stay in the wifi spot near the entrance of the theatre most of the time…
Hong Kong and Inner Mongolia was so different. The blue sky, green grass, the brown dessert in Inner Mongolia was a complete opposite with tall buildings in Hong Kong. It was really an impressive trip.
The schedule of a tour is fixed and not flexible as travel alone. It’s good to join a tour if travel in remote area with long distance drive. But just have to pray for a good tour guide and friendly people in the tour…
Grassland obo can tell the direction.
This touristic obo was added a donation box and an incense burner.