passport information for US passport holders

Hey Americans, if your passport is getting full of China visas and entry/exit stamps and you need new pages added, I recommend doing it soon!

There’s an announcement from a visa service in the US below, but no new pages will be added beginning in 2016, you’ll just have to renew your passport.

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Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area

All you need to know about the 2015-2016 Ski Season is right here!


This could be you!

The slopes at Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area open on November 28th!


map of the slopes


Skiing at Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area

Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area is located north of Hohhot on highway S101. See this map:

map to tai wei

the green area near the arrow is the ski and golf resort


Here is the price list for the 2015-2016 season:

Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski and Golf Resort Skiing Prices

If the image doesn’t display correctly, use this link: Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski and Golf Resort Skiing Prices



snow sledding




ski lift



You can follow the public account on wechat for information about skiing at wechat ID: twhxjlb and for information about their other activities at wechat ID: nmgtw_djc.


If you need service in English, contact Sanny at 13674814130.


Get a group of your friends together and make some cool memories!


*photos are property of Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Golf and Skiing Marketing Department, used with permission



Hohhot life Hacks, part three

Today is our third post in a series designed to help make some everyday aspects of life here cheaper, easier, or more functional. We’ll offer five hacks per post.


Have a Hohhot hack of your own? Leave a comment for us!


Read our previous hacks:


Hohhot Hacks, Part One

Hohhot Hacks, Part Two: Kids in Hohhot


ELEVEN: I’m too lazy to wash and cut salad greens and vegetables.

I like to eat salads, but some days it seems like more work to properly wash and cut the greens and other vegetables. (Yes, I truly am that lazy).

Hack: Visit the liang cai counter at your local grocery store. 


Most of the larger grocery stores (Hua Lian, Carrefour, Spar, Vanguard) have a counter like this that sells 凉菜 liang cai or cold dishes. They almost always have endive, shredded carrots, cut or shredded cucumbers, broccoli, mushrooms, and sometimes spinach. They have lots of other things too, but most of the others aren’t generally found in salads in the West. You can ask for it without any of the sauces, take it home, and add the dressing of your choice. I usually add it all to romaine or leaf lettuce and throw in some tomatoes. They may think you’re crazy for not wanting the sauces, but I’ve already done it at most of the big supermarkets so you can almost guarantee you won’t be the first :)


TWELVE: Eggs are hard to get home without breaking. 

I know that now you can get eggs that come in very handy plastic cases. However, those cartons are a relatively new concept here in Hohhot, and the eggs not in the carton are almost always cheaper. The problem is getting them home without cracking the shells. Whether it’s bumpy bike rides or people crowding into you on the bus, your non-carton eggs probably won’t make it home in one piece.


Hack: Crack the shells 

All of them. Just go ahead and crack all of them into a plastic bag before you leave. I learned this trick from my Outer Mongolian classmates when I was a student at Nei Da. Double or triple bag it to prevent leakage and just bring them home as a liquid. You can use a large spoon or measuring cup to scoop out what you need when you need it. The only thing this won’t work for, obviously, is boiled eggs. But for any other use-baking, scrambling, frying, etc, it will work.


THIRTEEN: Rugs are expensive.


Where we lived in the southwest United States, most homes have carpet in at least some of the rooms. For us, it just feels “homey” to scrunch up your toes on carpet. Also, with our little ones running about, we think our neighbors may appreciate our attempt to at least somewhat muffle the noise. However, even small area rugs aren’t that cheap here. The 1.7 X 2.4 meter size were 600 RMB and the larger sizes a few thousand RMB when I priced them last.

Hack: Buy carpet at any made-to-order size and get the edges sewn.




Most carpet stores can cut any style of carpet to any size and sew the edges so they won’t fray. The price depends on the style/quality of carpet, but for somewhere between 30-50 RMB per square meter, you can get an area rug made for cheaper than you can buy one. Some stores will sew the edges for free, others charge a few yuan per meter.

The styles above were purchased at run yu for 30-40 MB/square meter. I have a trike so I didn’t have to pay to have it delivered, but you’ll need to consider how you’ll get it home.

The cost to cover an entire living room was less than the pre-made small size rugs.

You can go ahead and get the carpet installed wall-to-wall in your house, but that will be pricier and, in my opinion, a bit harder to keep clean. (I could write an entire post here about methods I’ve seen locals use to clean carpet that did NOT involve a vacuum, but we’ll save that for another day).


FOURTEEN: Stuff breaks all the time. 


One of the things I like about living here is that generally you can get any item repaired without having to purchase a new one, contrasted with the US where you can almost always buy a new item for the price it would cost to repair.
This problem isn’t just us, right? Appliances, clothing, suitcases, shoes, household items….something is always broken. Here are a few tips for saving money on replacements.

Hack: Get it fixed!

replacement parts on tao bao:

We broke the canister to a blender while staying at a friend’s house and were able to find the replacement canister on taobao for much cheaper than the whole blender would have cost. We’ve also bought replacement parts for an air filter, vacuum cleaner, computer, cell phone, breast pump, and much more on taobao. You need language skills or a kind local friend to do it, but it’s nice not to have to re-purchase the entire item.

replacement parts from distributor:

We needed a part for our washing machine and even though it’s an older model, you can go to a store that sells the same brand and they should be able to help you figure out how to order one.

dry cleaners:

Almost every local dry cleaners can repair clothing items for you or do minor sewing projects.

shoe repair:

These guys are awesome. Some are located on corners with bike repair guys, and some have small shops. They can (obviously) repair shoes, but we’ve also had them repair suitcases.

second hand appliance stores:

Most second hand appliance stores can also repair appliances. If they can’t help you, they can probably refer you to who can.

hardware store:

Most hardware stores will have the names and numbers of various handymen, plumbers, electricians, etc who will be able to repair a large variety of the stuff you have broken.


FIFTEEN: You can’t buy clothes that fit here.

I am tall, even by American standards, which makes me much larger than the average Chinese lady. This means clothes and shoes that fit properly are hard to find here. When me and another American girl played on the basketball team at Nei Da they had to custom-order our uniforms: size 4XL!

Hack: Get them custom made. 

If you are someone who is shaped differently from the average Chinese, you can get almost anything made to order. There are some small shops that do this kind of work, but the five-four market is probably the largest and most well-known. (It’s located just north of the Shang-ri-la).

nov 024

This market is lined with chops that sell cloth. Each shop has books of clothing styles you can choose from. They can truly make almost anything. Traditional Chinese clothes, Western suits, dresses, shirts, whatever. If you don’t want to choose from the book or if you just really like something that you have, take it with you. They can use your item as a pattern to make a garment just like yours. I’ve taken in jeans that fit well and had them make another pair like them.

Prices clearly depend on the kind of fabric you’re choosing, your size, and what you’re having made.

A few cautions/tips if you’re going for the first time:

  • If you don’t have an item with you, they will measure you. In public and probably comment out loud to others about your measurements.
  • In my experience, they tend to make garments with much higher waists than is standard for clothes purchased in the West so if that’s not the style you’re going for, be sure to communicate what you want beforehand.
  • Definitely try it on before you leave. They can make further adjustments if it doesn’t fit right.
  • Again, in my opinion, the idea of “the customer is always right” isn’t really a thing at the 5-4 market so they may try to convince you to do something other than what you requested because it’s not their general way of doing it or because they don’t think it looks good. However, if you want something done a certain way and are clear about that, they will generally do what you ask if you state it clearly.




Happy Double Eleven Day!

Today’s date is November 11th, or 11-11, or 双十一. This is a “holiday” that began in the 1990s in China to celebrate being single, but has evolved into a day of retail and restaurant discounts.

Here is a little bit of the history of the “holiday.” Quotation marks are intentional as I’m not certain the distinction is valid :)

And below is an advertisement from Wei Duo Li about all the restaurant specials today at Mo Er Cheng (City Mall). If it doesn’t display correctly use this link.

I think archery may also be free to females today.

I saw a lot of promotions on wechat today for getting discounts or coupons for following public accounts or sharing information on your moments.

Basically anywhere you go today, I would ask if they are having a “shuang shi yi” special. Chances are, you can save some money or get some free stuff!

If you know of a great shuang shi yi deal, let us know in the comments!


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Hohhot Souvenir Gift Items

The gift items you can purchase on this website now have a place you can view and pick up in Hohhot!

You may view and purchase items at Xi Hua Da Sha Office 1108.

Xi Hua Da Sha is the office building on the southeast corner of Xing An and Hailar, just above Run Yu.

熙华大厦 1108

IMG_20151024_180828 IMG_20151024_180832 IMG_20151024_180840 IMG_20151024_180847

Mugs 30 RMB or 4 for 100 RMB!

Prices vary for canvas prints, but we can custom make any size or design you want!


Mongolian Wrestling Event


Hasar is a local organization that is seeking to take Mongolian wrestling to an international level. They also have a number of gyms across the city and province and host other events from time to time. Their main event is still hosting an promoting Mongolian wrestling, also known as bokh, events.

The championships for the 2014-2015 season will be held on November 7 at the Inner Mongolia Sports Stadium.

I haven’t been to a Hasar event, but my husband says they put on a good show with singing, dancing, and other entertainers between each round of wrestling.


I haven’t been able to confirm this piece of news, but I keep hearing that Mongolian wrestling is slated to be an exhibition sport at the next Olympics. Whether it will be an exhibition sport or not, it’s still an important aspect of Mongolian culture, so check it out if you can!



Also, check out this canvas print of Mongolian wrestling and other gifts available for purchase.

wrestlers with text

false information

It’s happened to us all, right? You ask where the office to do X is, someone gives you directions, you get there, and the office isn’t for doing X at all. They tell you where to go. You get there and it’s not right either. Or, someone at some window gives you completely false information about some step (or all the steps) to complete whatever process it is you want to do.

There are many variations of this story, but the commonality is being given misinformation, even by people who should know, and it’s one of the most frustrating aspects of life as a foreigner in Hohhot. (Or am I the only one?)

Today’s post is dedicated to the craziest things (WRONG, FALSE) we’ve heard from people who should know.

  1.  There’s a US Consulate in Hohhot.

    When my husband was studying at Nei Da, we had to submit all kinds of documents for our family to be dependents on his visa. Some such documents were authenticated copies of our marriage license and our children’s birth certificates. We didn’t have our documents authenticated when we arrived and it was a hassle to do from China (it’s not as difficult from your country of residence). Anyway, in the course of asking about the process he told us we could just stop in and ask at the consulate. As we talked further, we realized that he thought there was a US Consulate in Hohhot. The guy whose job it is to process student visas for foreign students on a daily basis thought there was a US Consulate in Hohhot. My best guess is that his office deals so much with Mongolian students, and there is a Mongolian Consulate here, that they just forget that no other country has a consular presence here.

  2. Getting your passport authenticated is easy and free.We are in the final steps of our WOFE registration. At two of the steps, the offices required our passports to be authenticated. It was a crazy request anyway, but what was even more crazy was that the boss of the bureau told my husband, “I don’t know why you’re complaining about having to do it. It’s an easy process and free.” It’s neither. It requires going in person the Embassy in Beijing, sending documents to a processing service in the States who then take them to the US Department of State to be signed by the Secretary of State, then taken to the Chinese Consulate/Embassy in the US for authentication. Each step has a fee, plus shipping and the agency fee. Altogether it took a few weeks and about 3000 RMB each time.
  3. Your kids don’t have to exit/enter.We recently got (what we thought) was our newest daughter’s visa. Turns out, it was not actually a visa, just a document that allowed her to stay until the time of our next exit/entry requirement. In the process of asking all the questions about how to get her an actual visa, the worker at the counter who processes visas daily told us our kids don’t need to exit/re-enter, just the adults do. I suppose this could technically be true since we’ve never actually tried not bringing them when we cross an international border, but since they each have a passport and a visa that says they have to exit every 120 days, I’m guessing they do actually need to. Also, since we have to provide copies of our entry/exit stamps all the time, I’m guessing that someone is actually checking to make sure they do exit/re-enter.
  4. You can’t buy train tickets here.There’s a small window to buy train tickets near the gate of Gong Da. It’s near our house so we’ve bought our tickets there before. The last time we went the same worker who had helped my husband before told him he couldn’t buy them there with a passport. (instead of Chinese ID card). He asked her, “Didn’t I just buy the here recently? Weren’t you the one who helped me?” Just a little pushing and she agreed to help us, and we did indeed get our tickets….at the very window she said we couldn’t. I don’t advocate being polite, but sometimes a “no” here isn’t a “no” and in this case the worker probably just initially didn’t want to go to the hassle of entering foreign names into the computer. However, our desire to not be hassled into going to the train station and waiting in a long line won. (this time).
  5. You can’t be here.This wasn’t a false request, it was true, but it’s still crazy. As I said, we are in the final stages of our business registration. This week we’ve been busy preparing the 200 or so pages of documents to change our visas to be employment visas issued by our company. These documents have to be submitted to the employment bureau. But here’s the crazy thing…..the guy at the counter refused to speak to my husband, asked him to leave, and required someone else submit the documents on our behalf. It’s a good thing we’ve hired our first employees, otherwise we’d have to trouble a friend to do it. It just seems weird to me that it’s our business which has been properly registered, and they are our documents which we have painstakingly prepared and we (foreigners) can’t go into the office that processes our visa to present them ourselves???


How about you? What’s the craziest bit of misinformation you’ve ever been given?

another wechat group


There are a few wechat groups for foreigners in Hohhot already, however, the largest one is apparently full according to the last few people I’ve sent invitations to. I created another one today, so feel free to join us to ask questions about the city, meet other foreigners, and for those of you who have been here longer, to help the newbies out.

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