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Hohhot - The Grasslands

rain 17 °C

We went to Xilamuren which is 1 1/2 - 2 hours from Hohhot. Being the closest grasslands it is the most developed and touristy. We did an overnight stay. The trip cost Y320 ($53).

We were expecting to gallop across the grasslands on Mongolian horses, eat Mongolian food, take in an evening of music and dance around the fire and sleep in a yurt at a tourist camp. Well we got none of this. That's not entirely correct - we galloped across the grasslands on Mongolian horses.

We went on the tour with the guest house we were staying at. There were 7 of us from the guest house who went. We went in a Mini van. When we arrived we got out of the van and nobody communicated what was going on. The Mongolians went in to the house and we all stood outside like stunned mullets.

I will just digress for a moment, Barbara asked where the toilet was with her best Marcel Marceau impersonation only to be pointed out to the grasslands. This is when I decided I could go without going to the toilet for the two days. I lasted until the morning.

Now back to my story,
So we went exploring. We came back at lunch time to find food in our yurt. Lunch was dumplings, tomato and pickled vegetables. After lunch like kindergarten kids we were told to have a rest as we would be going horse riding at 3.30 pm. Like good little children we did as we were told.

At 2.30pm we were called from our yurt to get into the van to be driven to the horse riding. We asked whether we should take our stuff for the tourist camp. At this time we were told that we weren't going to a tourist camp that we were having a home stay. Six of the seven of us were not impressed with this.

About 15 minutes later we arrived at the tourist camp where we would ride our Mongolian horses. We were not informed of how much or how long the horse ride would be. At the end of the ride we were advised that it was Y900 ie Y130 ($21) each for 2 hours riding with a guide.

It was raining by this stage and very windy. We sat in the van for 30 minutes so we could watch the horse racing and wrestling. Neither were entertaining or worth the wait. We then drove back to the home stay.

Back at the home stay we all stayed in the yurt because it was too cold outside. We were called into the house for the first time for dinner. Dinner was served and we were still expecting traditional Mongolian food. We had chicken and potato stew with steamed buns. This was not traditional Mongolian food.

After we had finished dinner we all sat at the dining table looking at each other. Eventually I suggested we play cards. we got some cards and played a few games. Then we went to bed in our yurt.

It was what you would call a communal bed. 7 of us slept side by side on concrete. I can't believe I paid money to sleep like this. On top of this I had the start of a cold so was not in the best frame of mind.

In the morning we were called into the house at 7.30am for breakfast. I said that I wasn't going because I couldn't stand the sight of a traditional Chinese breakfast in the morning and I wasn't feeling the best. Barbara came back to get me as breakfast was fried bread, eggs and tea. I agreed to go inside because I thought the tea would be good for me.

When my tea was poured it was milk black tea with pepper. I couldn't drink it. The fried bread was OK but exploded inside your stomach. I couldn't stand the thought of cold boiled eggs. That would be enough to make me throw up.

We had breakfast, the others went exploring but being that I was cold ridden I wanted to stay out of the wind so I cleaned the yurt and folded the bed linen. I then went back inside as I noticed that they had costumes. I did some dressing up had my photo taken and then it was time to leave.

About 1/2 hour away from the Guesthouse there was a terrible burning smell coming from the car. It was either the tyres burning or brakes burning. It turned out to be the brakes burning as the driver had his foot on the brake coming down the mountain. We pulled over and the driver poured water over the brake pads. After about 1/2 hour it was back on the road again and back to the guest house.

In a nut shell I as you can probably tell didn't enjoy the grasslands and the highlight for me was dressing up!

Posted by Bettinamc 07:20 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism

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