Last week I probably did my last trip during my time here in China. After being to Shanghai during Golden Week and visiting one of the holy mountains of China, Taishan, I definitely wanted to see the capital of China – Beijing.
Before the trip started my good friend Aubry came to Qingdao two days in advance and I had time to show him Qingdao (which has been my home for the past 5 months). I showed him around in our beautiful old part of the city, as well as our nice beaches.
On Thursday our trip to Beijing could finally start. We decided to stay in a hostel called Sanlitun Youth Hostel, which I can really recommend to you, if you want to stay in Beijing for a few days or even a while. It has cheap prices, a warm atmosphere, clean rooms and even offers some nice food – I can definitely recommend you the big Swiss breakfast.. yummy! Besides that, you have a young, open minded and very international audience that we liked to hang out with.
The next day we took a trip to the Great Wall which I have really been looking forward to. It was a great experience to walk up all the way on our own and enjoy the landscape. Also the wall itself was quite impressive. At the end of our walk on the wall we found a part which has not been restored – this is where you can have the nicest of all views!
The following day we started exploring the city a bit more. We visited some of the more famous sights of the city as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. A personal tip here is to go to the Jing Shan Park near the Forbidden City. It is not very much crowded and is a really nice area. If you go up the little hill inside the park you have a great view above the Forbidden city and also the city in general.
After we explored much more of the city area, we decided to find ourselves a nice place to eat. We found out about Sanlitun village which is a big complex with lots of restaurants and shopping. The place you should not miss if you like some Mexican food is the Cantina Agave. Atmosphere and food there are top notch. Near Sanlitun village is also huge bar street where we had some drinks in various bars.
All in all it has been a nice experience and Beijing is a city that is worth a visit. We had a decent time and I guess we have really been lucky with the weather, as it was sunny all day and there was literally no smog at all. Beijing is a bit more Chinese than Shanghai in a way but is also just as lively. Nothing more to say than – bye bye, Beijing!
Inner Mongolia Trip: 30th of September to the 6th of October
More information on travelling to Inner Mongolia :
Where to find friends to go with you on an Epic Adventure : http://www.internchina.com/zh/contact/apply
My name is Philippe Touzin and I am the Marketing and Graduate Recruitment Manager for InternChina. I am based in the city of Zhuhai and this is the second part to my blog on travelling to Big Sky Country: Inner Mongolia (China).
Gallery of the Inner Mongolia Trip
2/10/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province – Grass Plains
8:00am: Breakfast and then we went for a Hike in the grass plains, walked up some hills, saw some Lama Buddhism stone prayer “temples” and flags , herd of horses, sheep and endless plains- we took some photo shoots and then went back to our farm for lunch. The afternoon was Mongolian Bow and Arrow training/shooting session, followed by horse riding.
The horse riding was not part of the tour, and cost 150.-rmb per hour, so we went out for 3hours and rode around with our guides. We all came back feeling like Mongolian Men with sore asses, and the best part was when John Pitts fell of his horse- I didn’t get to see the fall, but Max’s description and the thought of it got us all laughing for about 2hours! (John Pitts: Product design/production manager for a design and manufacturing firm that supplies the top MNE’s in the world with highest quality electronic goods/ accessories)
We had a rest and then dinner again (stew of potatoes, mutton, mutton ribs,…) which was cooked by the wife of the farmer- followed by copious amounts of Horse milk alcohol (sour horse milk + extra baijiu!) and beer, and more card games in the yurt.
Baijiu: Chinese alcohol, usualy over 60%!
On our way back from the farm to our yurt, I met the Grandfather/owner (Mongolian name: Nasan Oqir- 70 years old ) of the lands who invited me for some beers together. He was very cool and explained that his father had built this house and his livestock consisted of:
-60 horses- which he herds riding his motorbike from sunrise to sunset, every day.
-and 2500 sqkm of land!!
He wakes up every day before sunrise, rides his motorbike to the neighboring farm (15km) where his best friend lives,… drink some horse milk alcohol together, have breakfast and then gets to work- He offered me a job working for him and honestly it was very tempting!!!
Dulung came to save me before he took out more Baijiu and I returned with him (quite drunk already) to keep partying with my friends. At some point in the night-when we finished all our alcohol, we went out in the plains with all our blankets (temperature: 10 degree Celsius) and lay down to star gaze- Amazing!!
Dulung was quite drunk and passed out, so we ended up having to carry him back to the Yurt, by creating a human King Chair which ended in a few falls and lots of giggles.
3/10/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province – Grass Plains
9:00am: breakfast (we had the same staple Mongolian food every morning- Rice with mutton soup + warm horse milk- and some sort of bread)
Spending the morning going for some more walks and then thanking and saying goodbye to the family for having hosted us. When we had first arrived we brought with us a bottle of Famous Old Grouse whiskey, as it is customary to bring a gift when staying with the family- and this was a good present apparently 🙂
Our car had changed for the last leg of the journey to a normal car, which was fine but meant we were 4 big boys at the back-OUCH- we departed and of we were! But 1hour later we were stopped by the police…they were not too amused to see 4 people sitting at the back and after we talked with the officers, giving our foreign charm, they agreed to take Dulung to the next village so he could catch a bus and no other problems. The police also decided it was a good time to have a photography session with us- so quite alot of posing and Victory signs later we were off again!! But we forgot to take pics with them also! 🙁
We had some emotional goodbye’s with Dulung, our guide. He is our age and our time together was more 5 buddies travelling, laughing and getting drunk together- we still keep in contact using our weixin, and have invited to stay with us in Zhuhai where we would guide him to the local Island!! (next blog? :D)
Weixin / WeChat: is a Chinese app (similar to whatsapp) which everyone uses here in China. You should download it if you’re coming to China!
We arrived in Hohhot at 8pm, tired and exhausted, no showers for 5 days, bodies filled with sands everywhere, un-kept beards and full of amazing adventure memories. Inner Mongolia/become mongolian men/adventure time= Success!
We checked in to the same hotel : Wanli Hotel and had the longest showers in the world. On our way to the rooms we found the room service lady/ her trolley and raided it for extra shampoo and shower gels as we were super dirty! :p
We had a early dinner and then me and Joe went back to the room to sleep-NACKERED-…John and Max went to a bar called: Seattle Bar- Do Not Go there– they had 3 drinks and don’t remember coming home- we are pretty sure their drinks got spiked with drugs as we are all heavy drinkers.
4/10/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province – Grass Plains
10am wake-up. John had a lie-in but Joe, Max and myself went walking from our hotel to the Great Mosque of Hohhot (where john met up with us). Hohhot was on the old Silk Road and there is a big cultural mix, including a thriving Muslim community. The walk was long but got a good feeling of the city- not much going on- but the Mosque was beautiful and the surrounding area very interesting with street markets and pet markets: they had all kinds of animals and MASSIVE snakes.
Had some good lunch= Big grilled Naan breads with lamb bbq, followed by going to visit Lama Buddhism temples, pagoda’s, old street market and yes…we got more fireworks for our last night in Hohhot!!! The guys were super nice, we were the first foreigners to have gone in their shop so they gave us all the fireworks for free!! We proposed to take pictures so they could print it out and use it as advertisement!
Last Dinner and night life
For our last dinner we had a Meat Fest-6kg of meat between 4 guys- 1 huge lamb leg and a full rack of ribs- It was the BEST Lamb meat we had ever had and we washed it all down with local beer- we ended up having some locals join our able, one of them being the 2nd best Inner Mongolian champion wrestler and a bunch of girls of one who nearly vomited on Max. :p
After this we headed to a Mongolian bar which had live music and local Mongolians drinking- it was fun and good until- the Mongolians got too drunk, one got angry wiped out a mini sword and smacked one of them hard on the head (with the scabbard still on thankfully), then he ran out , came back and slashed another guy on the arm with the scabbard off and then ran out again, this time chased by other guys carrying, not chairs, but tables—it was shocking but slightly comedic at the same time. I then approached then with Joe and offered to give first aid as IC employees in all offices are first aid trained. They both needed stitches but they’ll be ok.
After that we finished our drinks and decided to go clubbing, found a “Box Club” which, I swear, smelled like horses! Club are the same everywhere else in the world and we ended up drinking / making mates with another Mongolian and coming home at 4am.
5/10/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province – back to GuangZhou
12:00 get up and check out. We had been eating Mongolian food all week and were hungover so we went to McDonald’s to set ourselves right. We then kept going with some more tourism by going to tourist shops and buying some small gifts (combs, bracelets,…) for our friends and family back home!
3:00pm return to Guangzhou Airport. On arrival in Guangzhou you can easily take a express bus to the Center of Zhuhai, Gongbei station (last stop). For more info please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope to go back and go into real Mongolia (the country), although the travel and experiences we had felt very authentic and Mongolian. I highly recommend learning some Chinese and speaking some basic Chinese as this way you get to skip all the mass tour groups and discover the Real Inner Mongolia (or chat with Andal guesthouse 🙂 )
Thank you for reading, and please do not hesitate to stop by Zhuhai InternChina office for some tea and stories.
More information on travelling to Inner Mongolia :
Where to find friends to go with you on an Epic Adventure : http://www.internchina.com/zh/contact/apply
My name is Philippe Touzin and I am the Marketing and Graduate Recruitment Manager for InternChina. I am based in the city of Zhuhai and this is my blog on travelling to Big Sky Country: Inner Mongolia (China).
For China’s National Day holiday I decided with three friends to brave the masses and travel in China. (1st of October till the 7th of October https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Week_(China) ). This holiday is during one of the infamous Golden Weeks in China. Why infamous? Please have a look at this InternChina blog entry for more info (also tips on other hot potato destinations during Golden Week): http://www.internchina.com/zh/about/blog/2012/10/philippines-during-golden-week/?lang=zh&Itemid=244
Our decision making process on choosing our destination was quite messy and my German colleagues at InternChina (extremely organized and efficient) would have had at least 579’236.5 heart attacks ( 😛 ) by the end of the trip due to the non-organised / laisser-faire attitude we kept during the trip- which turned out to be Amazing and Perfect for a Adventure holiday!!
We all have very busy jobs, and trips tend to fall down the Priority list, so 2 months before the trip we were going to Japan, 1 month before the trip to Indonesia, next day to Philippines, next day to Malaysia/Borneo, next day to Nepal….2 weeks before the holidays and we decide to go for China due to China being AWESOME and finding out one of our friends couldn’t leave China for Visa reasons (oops).
What does this mean? There are hundreds of destinations outside and in China! All with return flights (national and S.E.A flights) costing approximately 2000.-RMB / 240.-Euro/ 330.-USD / 205.-PoundsSterling (high season prices, for low season prices knock off 500.-RMB)!!
For booking cheap flights (using a foreign card in China) please check:
Next step; where to go in China?- its Golden Week- its busy as hell at every half-popular tourist sites and travelling during the 1st and 7th will be impossible (there a lot of people in china= tourists central).
This is when we decided on Inner Mongolia, where we could find Deserts and Grass plains (green deserts) and hopefully avoid the battalion of Chinese and foreigner tourists. We booked our flights and a hotel for our first night Hohhot (capital of inner Mongolia), and we all decided to meet up a week before so as to plan some more….-Germanheartattack#125…needless to say that did not happened.
29/09/2013- Zhuhai, Guangdong Province
Our flight was very departing very early on the 30th (7:30 am) from GuangZhou airport, so on the 29th we took the Speed train from Zhuhai newly opened fancy train station (just next to the Macau Border) central to Guangzhou South station. This train takes only 1h15 min, and the 2nd class ticket costs 70.-RMB, with first class costing 90.-RMB. You can also buy San Miguel Beer for 6.-RMB! It was a good train ride.
29/09/2013-Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
We had booked a night in a hotel …Germanheartattack#-1…The location was 100% based on being close to a Turkish restaurant we wanted to try out, called the Sultan- the food was amazing and our first kebabs in a long time with the hummous, tzatiki, salads, flat breads and all grilled meats! Highly recommend it! We were so full from all the food that we went for a stroll to help us go to sleep…
Sultan (4 people : 5 starters + 4 mains + mint tea= approx. 160.-rmb per person) http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g298555-d1006324-Reviews-Sultan-Guangzhou_Guangdong.html
30/09/2013-Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
I had organized t for a wake-up call at 4 am and a Taxi for 4:30am. It took about 45 min to drive to the Guangzhou BaiYun airport (148.-RMB/4pers= 37.-rmb) and after checking in we were on our way to the capital of Inner Mongolia: Hohhot (呼和浩特市 and in Mongolian script see the wiki link)–pronounced: HoHeHaoTe—or as we pronounced it –HohhotisSoHot-
30/09/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province
The flight took 2h30min, and at the airport we caught a taxi for the 20min ride to the city center. Be aware Taxi drivers will try and scam you (even with the meter on!), a taxi ride to the city center should be maximum 30.-RMB. Our hotel was very nice and the staff was friendly. They even brought to your room a free yoghurt and brioche every day at 5-6pm for your snack!! 😀
Hotel: Wanli International Hotel: Price 282 rmb per night for twin room, so 141.-rmb per person per night: http://english.ctrip.com/hotels/hohhot-hotel-detail-129103/wanli-international-hotel/
We then went for lunch and had a great Meat Fest with Mongolian style dumplings, whilst we discussed our next steps.
We had a general idea as to what we wanted to do in Inner Mongolia: Deserts, Grassplains, horse riding, archery and drinking horse milk alcohol. We also knew that we didn’t want to travel with any other foreigners or Chinese, only Mongolians, so we were lucky enough to discover an International Hostel, run by Inner Mongolians, which organized tours! After some intense negotiations we were able to secure a 5 day trip:
-mongolian guide (Mongolian name: Dulung- we became best buds)
-4*4 jeep + driver
-no other tourists
-all transport/food/accommodation (yurts) costs
– visiting Desert for 2 days 1 night/ visiting grass plains for 3 days 2 nights
-camel riding and desert dune surfing = 2115.-RMB per person! 🙂
Hostel: Anda Guest House: http://www.andaguesthouse.com/index_eng.htm
Hostel Manager, Ms Guan : +86 4716918039 / +86 15947519807
We left the hostel with having organized to meet the following morning at 8am. We had also asked them to write down the name of local Mongolian dishes, so went to a recommended restaurant, ordered them and tried it all! It was good!! Except for the sausages…or testicles…we are still unsure as to what we ate :s
30/09/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province- Gobi Desert
8:00 am departure from Hohhot in our Jeep and awesome driver. We first headed for the Desert, part of the Gobi Desert, taking the away going West from Hohhot and following a lone mini-mountain range.
After 5hours of driving we had lunch in a small town and this is where we met up with Dulung, our Legendary Mongolian Guide. We also took the opportunity to buy over 150 fireworks and 5 cases of beer in one of the small towns. Usually its illegal to buy fireworks, but China’s national day was the on the following day (1st of October) so all the locals were already going a bit crazy with blowing stuff up, and certainly a few that we bought were a bit dangerous, but they’re more fun 😉
We drove for another 2 hours and then had to change jeeps as we had to drive into the Desert and through the Dunes- AWESOME-
We stayed in Yurts (Ger in mongolian), in an Oasis (bushes and 2 trees) in the middle of the sand dunes, with no other humans (or much living creatures) for many km around us- it was exactly what we were looking for- Our Adventure had begun.
Animals living in this habitat: foxes, rabbits, lots of bugs, birds, wolves,…sheep and their herders…in a desert??!
Altitude: 600m over sea level
What followed was a afternoon, of running around sand dunes, wrestling, racing, picture taking, dune surfing on sledges (sitting and standing), jumping of sand dunes and seeing how far we could role and in the process swallow 1 or 2kg of sand.
We learned that 2 small bottles of water each – and 34 degrees celcius- means we shouldn’t have done all this running, and pushing each other of sand dunes, as we soon found ourselves very thirsty! But we didn’t want to return to the camp yet ( 48 bottles of water, 60 bottles of beer, dinner and fireworks-) as we were having such a good time, so we kept going!
The most tiring activity was when Joseph Fry (internchina graduate intern-now Head representative of a sourcing company in Zhuhai) and I decided to write out INTERNCHINA in the sand dunes. Pick a massive Dune, decide how big the letters were to be and get to it – Dehydrated and 1 hour later we were finally done and Voila!:
That same evening was Dulung‘s birthday! So we celebrated China’s and Dolongs birthday together by having a meal in our Yurt, then lighting a bonfire (I lit it with my fire-starter!! :D), and drinking 5 crates of beer and setting off all the fireworks!! It was amazing and the stars were beautiful with such dry air and barely any light pollution!
Night temperature approx: 10 degrees Celcius
Day temperature approx: 30 degrees Celcius
Cheers in Mongolian/ Inner Mongolia dialect: USTRAYA!!!!! (deep manly voice)
1/10/2013-Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Province-Gobi Desert and travel to Grass Plains
6am: woke up, hungover and as dehydrated as I have ever been and went for a walk to see the sunrise- it was amazing- no camera and only my memories 🙂 . In the horizon I could see on top of the dunes 7 camels walking, probably tourists checking the sunrise out, but it was a beautiful sight. Went back to tent and passed out.
8am: Dolong had found fireworks that we forgot to light- so you can guess what our alarm clock was- all around the Yurt!! So we were up and about by 8:03 😀
Had breakfast, cleaned up so as to not spoil the nature, and then discovered 8 camels that had been brought for us, we were only 6 with the Camel guy, so 1 extra camels for our stuff, and 1 along for the fun of it. We rode back to where we had left our jeep, met a cool little grandpa farmer who showed us the wolves he had caught!! Over 5 wolves and a cub, this is their ancestral land, and so they come through quite often, however with the tourism industry increase (big tourist Yurt camps on the edge of Desert) they have to catch the wolves./ I didn’t ask what they do with the wolves, but knowing china: The fur for clothing/ rug, meat for food, bones for traditional medicine. Some may see this as harsh, but at least they don’t kill them and leave them, not one part of the animal goes to waste.
We now drove for 8 hours to arrive to the grass plains, out of desert, followed mountain range, up the mountains to 1680m altitude, and their the Plateau of endless grass plains opened in front of us. It was an amazing sight. There was sleepy little town at the start of the plains, so we stopped by to buy more water and beer, 4 tall Laowai’s/ foreigners entered the only shop for miles- and quite a few eyes of the locals popped out- you should have seen their faces when we spoke Chinese!
As we had asked not to be with any other tourists and there are lots of big Tourist camps, they had found a Mongolian family who could host us, but they had never been there themselves, so it took us sometimes to find the place!- The funniest part was asking for directions, Imagine this scenery:
And then asking a passing car or herder, and he says: well keep on going straight, then you see the hill turn right, keep on going straight then you will see 3 trees, turn left and continue for a couple of km and their in that area- there are No landmarks making it very hard to give precise directions!
9pm- arrived at our destination, had great warming hearty Mongolian food, followed by drinking games and more beer.
Dulung taught us a game which I can teach you if you want if you come to China- 2-3-5-Joker-7 and that Maxime Dupuis (also an ex intern through IC and now come back for full time employment in Zhuhai with his internship company)- doesn’t like it when you tickle his feet when drunk and calls himself Mark (?!? :D)-
Something I haven’t mentioned yet is that every night we slept in yurts, on the dirt (or sand in desert), and 5 guys all spooning each other—and for some reason they all tried to cozy up to me, so every night I´d wake up squished between two guys, sometimes hugging me, sometimes stealing my blankets- let´s just say that I definitely know I am heterosexual after all the touching I went through during the trip 😉 (even Dulung got involved!) hahaha
Tourist camps: Tourist central with stone made yurts with private bathroom, mass meals and events for everyone, endless pictures and babies running around -HELL NO-
Thank you for reading part I, part II is coming up next week with stories on grass plains and horse milk alcohol. Please do not hesitate to stop by Zhuhai InternChina office for some tea and stories.
More information on travelling to Inner Mongolia : http://www.lonelyplanet.com/searchResult?q=inner+mongolia&facet=origin%3Athorntree_thread Where to find friends to go with you on an Epic Adventure : http://www.internchina.com/zh/contact/apply
Travelling in and around China can be so easy: Just ask our InternChina-team for advise! If you have to leave China after 90 days for your visa for example, you can just go to Taiwan for the weekend. It is cheap and easy to get around there! Apply now for your internship in China and become part of the InternChina community!