Friday, December 3, 2010

Travel Re-Cap: Hohhot, Inner Mongolia

Welcome to Inner Mongolia!

Visiting Inner Mongolia was probably one of my favorite China trips. While there, we hung out with our friend Sina who is intellectually intriguing and interesting. It was nice getting away from the craziness, loudness, and dirtiness of Beijing.

 Brian inspecting the elephant from all angles.
"Buddha Belly" for some reason Chinese men like to walk around with their shirts up.
Major chinglish, we found this shirt while in a random clothing market.
This guy was hanging out next to his moving home parked next to a random Jenny Lous (import food store).
This museum was pretty cool and modern for being in the middle of Inner Mongolia.
We rode a bus to the grasslands to ride Mongolian horses. Brian was like a movie star and had a mini photo shoot with some locals. When we arrived, we were greeted by this sheep head lying on the ground.

I was expecting Mongolian horses to be Stallions but I was disappointed when I found that they are more like ponies. I thought Brian was going to break his horses back because his pony was super small.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chinese New Year: Round one- the city is going to explode! 2010

A lot of what I have been posting has been from over the last year. Since China blocked facebook and every other social networking site I wasn't able to share my experiences. Last Chinese New Year, we celebrated the holiday with our friend Cindy at her grandparents home.

Cindy's grandpa was so cute. Apparently he is the chief of the house and prepared our entire Chinese New Year feast!
                  Me, Chris, Cindy, and her grandparents.                      Always being silly

Chinese New Years was cool the first day but I couldn't stand 2 weeks of non stop fireworks. After the third day I was fed up with the non stop noise and smoke. I am going to have to vacate the country before this Chinese New Year. Oh yeah, it's my year, the year of the tiger. According to tradition, if I don't do anything successful this year I am going to be a failure the rest of my life.

Travel Re-cap: Oh Mongolia how you torture me

Welcome to Mongolia!

Dealing with Visa's in China is a pain in the ass. The last visa I had, required me to leave China every 90 days and that day always crept out of the blue. The easiest and cheapest way to exit is to Mongolia. $100 covers transportation and food. I went to Mongolia a total of 5 times, the first time by myself. That first time, Chris helped me buy a bus ticket and told me "look for the rainbow and when you find it you're in Mongolia. Good luck and don't get lost or stolen!". Not being able to speak Chinese and looking for a huge rainbow to signify my arrival was quit exhausting and stressful. I thought I was going to be led into an alley and sold into the sex trade. But that didn't happen. I have to say that I actually do like Mongolia because of the blue skies, one of my favorite restaurants, being able to see the stars, and the people are very kind.

 My only guide in my trek to Mongolia, also worked as communications with the Mongolians. For some reason my Mongolian jeep driver decided it was necessary for me to know animal names.

  Once you find this massive Rainbow, you know you're almost in Mongolia.

 The sleeper bus will take you to the Mongolian/Chinese border town in 12 hours, and no the TV doesn't work (a lot of things in China are for show).

 Minor detail, you can't walk into Mongolia. You have to hire one of these jeeps to take you across the border.
China's version of a truck stop without the convenience and a whole different degree of self service.

Random Power plant in the middle of no where.

After that first trip, I was always accompanied by Chris and our friend Brian. We picked up many foreigners on their way to Beijing and had fun meeting people from Italy, Mexico, UK, and I think there was a Spanish guy we met as well.

Bike Basket Baby

This one day when Chris and I were going to the plant market we saw this cute baby in a bike basket. She was so happy and little.

Travel Re-Cap: Bei Dai Hu

Welcome to Bei dai he!

Bei dai he is the nearest coastal city to Beijing, about 6 hours by car or 2 hours by fast train (dongche). It is saturated with Russians and their super heavy food. Luckily we had Olga with us because she translated all the menus for us. We literally ate at the same restaurant over and over because of their scrumptious beer, which is why we were there threes times a day. In Beijing, the beer is really lite and not very good, so it was nice bumping into cheap dark beer.

 We bought our train tickets late and weren't able to get sitting tickets. So I made my own little place inside the luggage storage.

 Poor animals and go carts at the wild life reserve. Such a sad place.

 We stole a picture of this guys snake. He wanted us to pay him for pictures but we refused.
 Travel buddies. Me, Chris, Yassine (my roommate), and Olga

 Fake Hiking