Back online again! (Sort of)
23.07.2010 - 26.07.2010 28 °C
Sorry it's been so long everyone! During my summer classes I was pretty busy and mostly doing day to day school stuff, but even though I've been on vacation for the last couple of weeks it's been hard to keep up.
The first major event that you've missed out on was my trip to Inner Mongolia (That is, the part of Mongolia that belongs to China), back in late July. That was lots of fun- it started with my first experience riding a Chinese sleeper train, which I thought was actually quite nice and comfortable. I actually love trains in general, plus the scenery was amazing and the beds were certainly more comfortable than anything I had in my boy scout days. I loved waking up early in the morning, looking out the windows as we rolled into the station, and packing my bag out into the new city- it was almost cinematic.
We went straight out of the train and onto a bus, which took us on a trip of several more hours to one of the famous Mongolian grasslands. There was a wind farm there, with those big white propeller windmills all around us and out into the distance as far as we could see, which was pretty far (Mongolia's not nearly as foggy as Beijing. ). We went to a place that had a bunch of yurts set up for us to sleep in, ( amusingly, they were carpeted on the inside and had comfortable pillows and blankets set up.) It was a little touristy but still lots of fun, and there was a sort of big dance party with various kinds of performances on the night we were there.
Day two we were back on the bus, moving west. On the way we stopped at this sort of amusement-park-type-place that was on the edge of the desert, and I mean a serious, real-live Mongolian desert with plenty of big sand dunes, heat, and strong winds. The amazing thing about a desert is that it actually moves just like the ocean- If you stand at the top of a dune you can see a big sheet of sand being blown uphill and flying off the other side like the crest of a wave. While I was there I got the chance to ride a Mongolian horse and even gallop for a bit, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip
That night we stayed in IM's capital city. I forget what it's called, but our tour guide mentioned that last year it had a GDP higher than Hong Kong's, and it shows. On the outside the place was very rural and run down, with lots of dirt roads and poorly-maintained buildings, but on the inside it quickly became like a miniature Shanghai, full of brightly lit buildings and expensive cars. The hotel we slept in was literally the best I've seen in my life, I'm talking telephone-in-the-bathroom fancy, plus a water boiler and all the makings for a few pretty sweet cups of tea. (When I showed up I was still covered in sweat and sand from the desert, all in all very ready for a shower, so I was almost afraid to touch anything for fear of getting the place dirty!) At least in Inner Mongolia, the economy seems to be expanding.
Since the trip spanned four days and filled up our three-day weekend, I had plenty of schoolwork when I got back and that along with meeting new people, exploring Beijing, etc. prevented me from blogging about it until now. Look forward to hearing about some more recent stories and my new Chinese friends next time I write, but until then, zaijian!
P.S. I tried to post the above last night, but my internet subscription has just run out and I won't be able to restart it for another week. I may write several posts between now and then, but you'll probably have to wait to see them. Sorry for the inconvenience.