Sunday, October 08, 2006

内蒙古- A Tour in Pictures

I am returned from Inner Mongolia, so freshly as to still be smelling of yurts and delicious spit-roasted lamb. Let us commence the photo tour in grand fashion, with my favorite portrait yet, of a genuine Inner Mongolian man, enjoying the sunrise with his Honghu cigarette.

I staggered aboard the bus at 5:30 last Monday morning, along with 40-odd Koreans students, plus my travel buddy and fellow Tuftonian Judy. The ride was long and painless, and we arrived in Baotou-- a city notable for basically nothing-- with time enough for a round of evening karaoke. Judy and I began a quest to master the Chinese hit "Xi Shua Shua." It’s a dreadful song, and dreadfully catchy; hopefully we’ll soon be able to wow crowds of Chinese by rocking in their native tongue.

We were up early again the next morning, and hustled onto the bus (after I took the above photo), and before we knew what was happening, we were on our way to the 'Shamo'-- the desert! Anxious to break away from the crew of Koreans, Judy and I decided to forgo the chairlift out to the dunes, and make the trek on foot. Assured by our tour guides the trip would take hours, and could ultimately prove too much for our frail health, we headed off anyway, and rightfully so-- it was a 15 minute walk up the side of the dune, and we saved ourselves ¥30. Observe me in all my (impressive) glory, as I scale the dunes. I think I could probably pass for Lawrence of Arabia, if I shaved.

The top of the hill proved to be a bit of a tourist trap, but was nevertheless very much on the edge of the Gobi desert. We skipped the camel rides, which looked sort of slow and lame, and ventured off into the sands on our own, which again, proved a wise choice. For the uninitiated: running down sand dunes is a whale of a good time, as is throwing people down sand dunes. The landscape, aside from being the natural equivalent of a room full of plastic balls, is quite striking as well. If you don't believe me, look at the picture. Pretty cool, seriously.

Also, I should add, I surrendered to one of my more base urges- the urge to fly- and shelled out the ¥100 ($12) to go parasailing. Basically, I had a parachute strapped on my back, and was dragged behind a truck over the desert. I got to fly for about a minute or two. I confess, it was a lot of fun.

Check back in coming days as I recount more adventures, with more pictures-- these from 'Caoyuan' (Grasslands), 'Huhehaote' (Hohhot), and 'Diyudegonggongqiche' (The Bus from Hell).


Post a Comment

<< Home