A trip to Inner Mongolia in pictures

I won’t lie to you all, I really can’t be bothered to write this post. I’ve been meaning to for months but just never found the time or energy. I went in a group of 11 to Inner Mongolia for golden week in October, and rather than try and document every detail of what happened like I usually do with my travel posts, for this one I’m going to do it slightly differently. I’m going to bang a bunch of pictures in then have a few bullet points underneath providing context and anecdotes. Hopefully it turns out okay! The original title for this post was The Yurt Life Tried To Kill Me, so enjoy!

Day 1: Hohhot Life.

  • When we got to Hohhot after an early flight we were shoved into a tiny car to transfer to the hostel. It smelt bad and meant I couldn’t sleep more.
  • There was no room at the hostel so we got moved to a nearby hotel for free!
  • We attempted to find food and stumbled into a nearby restaurant, ordered using google translate and entertained the locals by playing cards and taking pictures with them.
  • Then we explored the Muslim quarter of town where everyone presumed we were Muslims and wished us good fortune. The sun was shining, the air was clear and laughs were had.
  • Our attempt to find food in the evening resulted in a 2 and a half hour walk, a short taxi ride and a walk down 7 flights of stairs.
  • Then I slept. I was tired.

Day 2: Temple and Yurt Life.

  • We had to get up early to check out and get the bus out of the city to our yurt, but ended up having to wait for the people who had arrived on the overnight train from Beijing that morning.
  • Our first stop was at a random temple which we had a nice little tour around and were able to stretch our legs finally! It turned out as well that a lot of the other people on the tour had come through the British Council Language Assistant scheme too.
  • Then we drove into the country and found our yurt home. There’s nothing quite like a coach going off road in the grasslands – very very bumpy journey.
  • Most people then went horse-riding but I’m not a fan of horses and didn’t want to pay any more so I stayed behind and went for an exploratory walk with other people who had stayed behind.
  • Sorry for the bra straps in the picture – I didn’t expect to be warm enough to take my jumper off! Anyway, after people had come back from horse-riding we took it in turns with a bow and arrow and I managed to hit the target!
  • Then it was time to shovel dried poo for the camp fire that night which we sat around and drank, chatted, and watched Izzie nearly set herself on fire trying to light a cigarette.

Day 3: Desert Life.

  • Much driving occurred this day, like 6 hours or something stupid. It was long.
  • When we finally got to the actual desert it looked like a carpark. We got decked out in amazing sandshoes and climbed onto a big yellow truck for a short journey. Once the driver turned a certain corner – BAM! We were in the desert.
  • We climbed dunes, some people sledded back down them, and we rode camels. My favourite part of this desert was that you could still see the skyscrapers and power plants of the nearby city!
  • Then we checked into a hotel and failed to find a bar so ended up having an early night.

Day 4: Museum and Genghis Khan Life. 

  • I got sick. I woke up ill and didn’t recover for the rest of my trip so these last couple of days won’t have many pictures or anecdotes since my days mainly consisted of trying not to throw up and sleeping.
  • We went to a museum in the middle of nowhere which was so beautiful. When we were getting a tour around it some random Chinese man nearly headbutted me he came so close when he was looking in my eyes. Turns out he was confused that not all white people have the same colour eyes.
  • Behind the museum was a temple (type thing? I’m not quite sure, as I said I was ill). After walking around it for a bit I decided the only thing I felt up to was sitting down, so sat down on the wall around it until it was time to go. It was peaceful and had lots of fresh air which is what I needed.
  • In the afternoon we arrived back in Hohhot, and to our disappointment were put in the hostel instead of the hostel. After freshening up we headed out to see the Ghengis Khan statue which was cool, I’d perked up by this point, especially after the prospect of coffee!
  • At the statue were a group of Chinese men who were flying kites and we sat and watched them for ages, until the sun set and it was time to head back.

Day Five: Wall and Pagoda Life.

  • Turns out walking in fresh air is really good when you don’t feel well.
  • I wasn’t looking forward to this day since I’d already been to the Great Wall, but the section we were taken to wasn’t built up and really pretty.
  • We had minor issues getting down from the wall once we’d got up, but down is always harder!
  • Then we were taken to a pagoda, which I won’t lie, was pretty naff, but did have an excellent sign:img_3812
  • Good guys letting ‘deformities’ enter for free!
  • We got back to Hohhot in the evening and I can’t remember if anything else happened that day!

Day 6: Goodbye Life.

On the last day we were going to go to a museum but not everyone had their passports with them so we couldn’t. I started feeling ill again and ended up having to check my backpack for the journey home because I couldn’t carry it. When we got back I was supposed to be teaching the day after but then had a week off for military training. This was incredibly lucky for me because I ended up cancelling 2 classes after nearly fainting and didn’t have to cancel more because they’d already been cancelled!!

To sum up it was a great little tour in Inner Mongolia, full of laughter, fun, and memories I’ll have forever. Even if the yurt life did try to kill me.


Stories from China: The medical clinic.

During my first year in China I was relatively lucky and only visited the school medical clinic twice (although I did break 2 toes and just not visit). So far this year however I’ve been here less than a month and already had to take a trip.

Now my visits to the doctors might seem like a bizarre topic for a blog post, but honestly the medical advice I’ve been given by the staff of the clinic is hilarious and I just had to share it with everyone.

The first trip – stomach ache

The first trip to the clinic wasn’t that dramatic or funny so I’ll summarise. I had stomach ache for a while and went to get in checked out in case it was something sinister.After being told that I wasn’t wearing enough clothes or drinking enough hot water, I get given a standard exam but obviously  all the questions had to be asked through Sarah translating which I think she found much more embarrassing than I did! I ended up leaving with some antibiotics, some mysterious pills in a brown envelope and no clue of what they thought was wrong with me. It did however, only cost me 60p.

The second trip – knee injury.

The second trip was more frustrating, and really shows the difference between Western and Chinese medicine. I slipped in the bathroom and cracked my knee quite badly. Realising that I needed help since I was meant to teach that afternoon and couldn’t stand up without being in tears I message Sarah and we head off to the clinic, me limping the entire way. Once we’re there the clinic person literally laughs at me and says that because I’m not bleeding, I’m not in pain and don’t need help….

Sarah did her best to get the woman to help me, saying to me that she’d asked for things such as acupuncture but the woman just refused and handed me a bottle of spray to make my knee cold. As I left in tears, Sarah assured me that I didn’t have to teach in the afternoon and sent me on my way. Unfortunately I live up 2 flights of stairs and after hopping up a couple and almost screaming, the Chinese woman who lives with us, Ayi, came to my aid and practically carried me to my bed and gestured that I was not to move. So although the clinic was rubbish, I felt looked after anyway.

The third trip – eye stye.

The latest trip took place a couple of hours ago. After having an itchy eye in class yesterday, I went home and realised I was getting a stye. I’ve never had one before and yesterday was a long day (6 classes over 11 hours) and was just exhausted and in pain so asked Sarah to take me to the clinic this morning. Naturally this morning I wake up and my eye is better – not fully better but not as bad. I still wanted to get it checked out in case the pollution sprung up and made it worse.

Heading into the clinic Sarah warns me that they probably won’t do anything, but once we get in there the woman immediately takes to looking at my eye and pulling the skin around it, after asking a few questions she pulls out some drops and a cream and tells Sarah to tell me when to use it. Both the cream and the drops together were 25p – I heard Sarah questioning this multiple times and when she told me the prince she said she didn’t know why it was so cheap! Whatever the reason I wasn’t complaining, I paid the money and left after the clinic woman cheerily waved me away after warning me that the reason my eye had a stye was because I’d not drunk enough water and I’d eaten too much spicy food…

Yes you read that right, apparently I’d eaten too much spicy food! I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten enough spicy food in my life! Either way hopefully my eye will be back to normal soon and I’ll be sure to drink more water!!