Friday, July 24, 2009

Inner Mongolia Goodness

Right now I am sitting in our hotel lobby listening to some DMB (just for you Zach) after our team’s exhausting but adventure filled trip to Inner Mongolia. Let’s start our recap back in Bao Tou where we first spent the night in Inner Mongolia. After we slept in our sketchy hotel that reeked of smoke (all the hotels reek of smoking), we traveled to the Gobi Desert, which was amazing. We rode camels, ATV’s, ziplines, sledded down the sand dunes, and just played in the sand. It was nice because it wasn’t too hot but still had that desert feel. When we went out to the desert part of our tour, we rode this army truck thing that took us over the sand dunes like a roller coaster. The camels weren’t that mean but when we were riding them I think the camel behind me decided to chew on my shirt because after we got off the camel, I noticed some of my shirt was missing. After all the fun we had in the desert, we had a meal and show as the tour place put on a traditional Mongolian wedding. It was very touristy and when you go somewhere touristy, you can always bet that the food will suck. At least the desert part was exciting and now I can say I’ve been to the Gobi desert.

After our day in the Gobi desert, we headed to the Grasslands of Inner Mongolia. We first met up with this guy my sister met in Inner Mongolia who owns a hostel and tour business. He took us to his hostel and we met so many cool people from Holland, France, Vienna, etc. I really enjoyed talking with them and seeing where they have been and what they were doing in Inner Mongolia. I wish we could’ve spent more time with them but we had to head out to our overnight stay in the Grasslands. So we took a minibus out to the Grasslands and passed like 30 touristy places. As I crossed my fingers that we wouldn’t stop at a touristy place, we stopped at this very small place with a house and two yurts (traditional Mongolian huts). The mom of the house came out and showed us our beds in the yurts and then we got out to ride horses. We all rode our wild Mongolian horses as the sun disappeared beyond the horizon. It was so beautiful and so serene that I didn’t want to ride back to our huts. Our guide, Eric, was really nice and had just graduated from college with a major in English. He was very helpful and showed us all the things a traditional Mongolian family would do in the Grasslands. That night, we had a very special meal that included a rice porridge and bread that they would only have once a year. Then we went outside and barbequed chicken on a stick which was so good, I had about twenty sticks. The rest of the night was spent playing games and admiring the multitude of stars that were present in the middle of the Grasslands (which is basically the middle of nowhere). In the distance, we could see the touristy places shooting off fireworks but I was enjoying the solitude that we had in our traditional Mongolian family.

The next morning I woke up to the crow of the family’s rooster and found that I was the only one awake. So I went outside and watched the sunrise, wishing I could have a cup of coffee that I have been craving for a while. It was the most enjoyable sunrise that I have seen in a very long time. Then I talked with the son of the family and Eric and soon the rest of the team woke up to the crow of the rooster and the guard dog barking. After breakfast, which included fresh lamb, we walked around the Grasslands and then came back to this well that had ice-cold water in it. After more games, it was time for us to leave this very special place and to get back to the city so we could catch the bus back to Beijing. If I ever get the chance again, I am so coming back to the Grasslands and living here for weeks on end. The Mongolian family was so nice and it was just so peaceful to sleep in a yurt and to enjoy the countryside of Inner Mongolia. We took another sketchy bus back to Beijing but I was able to get some sleep this time because the guy next to me wasn’t snoring that much and plus, I was beat.

I can’t fully describe all the stuff that has happened in the past couple of days but I hope I have given you a glimpse. Maybe I should just move to Inner Mongolia and leave with a traditional Mongolian family for the rest of my life. The one food that I could not get enough of in Inner Mongolia… meat on a stick! I know it sounds somewhat sketchy but the barbeque the meat and then add spices that make it the most delicious thing in the world. I had lamb, chicken, chicken gizzards, kiwi (the bird). I’m going to try my best to recreate the dish next year in my apartment. I can already see that this entry is getting really long but I just wanted to let you all know that this is an amazing trip and I can’t wait to talk to you all later.

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