Happy New Year!


The cacophony of fireworks have already begun near our house.

Here’s to hoping that all of your have a wonderful time saying good-bye to the year of sheep and welcoming the year of the monkey (and that your children are able to sleep through the noise)!

We wish you a very, very happy lunar new year!

If you’re celebrating with Chinese friends here and here are some fancy ways to make jiao zi if you really want to impress.

And here is a list of Chinese new year greetings, complete with audio!

And here is another list of 108 Chinese new year greetings. (some duplicates)



Friday’s foreigner: Yannis

Today is our fifth post in our “Firday’s foreigner” series.

Check back each week to “meet” the other expats!

See our other interviews here. 

Read more below to become acquainted with Yannis.


What’s your name, where are you from, what brought you to Hohhot and when did you arrive?

My name is Yannis. I’m a citizen of the United States Washington, D.C. Like most I arrived here to teach English at local schools.


If you are doing something different now than when you first arrived tell us about that.

I love to teach so teaching whenever I can. Other than that writing and working on the projects I have in mind.


If you have free time, what do you do with it?

I really do not know what is free time. I’m engaged in life all the time.


Tell us something about your pre-Hohhot life that most people here don’t know.

My story was just a man trying to do something with his life while dealing with what life gives. Studying communications and writing poetry was what I was doing. I was a skincare and fragrance expert working at a store called Sephora.
Where in Hohhot do you find inspiration for any of your artistic pursuits?

I find it in the same places as I always do…in smiles, people playing, music, and just life itself inspires me.
Do you have any upcoming performances our readers should check out?

At the moment no however you can sometimes find me at a random bar spittin. lol


Favorite local food and where you like to get it:

Wish I knew how to type it in Chinese right now. I just know it starts with the letter “B”. Its a wrap bread with spices and your choice of selections inside. It’s pretty nice and cool for eating breakfast on the go.


If you could make one city-wide change to Hohhot, what would it be?

This city to me should have it’s own holiday. It’s such a good vibe you get when being in Hohhot, at least that’s how I feel.


What has been the most surprising aspect of life here?

Connecting definitely. The people I’ve met especially the ones I call my family and friends. I’m in a band here and my band is my family. The fact that I have a family here is wicked. I’ve grown majorly attached to them and their culture as they have the same for mine. We have such a unique bond and I love them. BD2H!


What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced here?

Maybe the time when I played basketball outside at a school. I slammed dunk the ball and the rim broke. I was yelled at by a elder guy however the kids and other people calmed him down.


What is the kindest thing a local has ever done for you?

I like to call him my little bro (Weiles) always helping me when it comes to searching for something I need. Too many things to list unfortunately.


What’s the most culturally awkward situation you’ve been in here?

Sadly but reality that many people would deny or treat me different because my skin tone is dark. Many schools won’t even consider me though I’m a native speaker.


What advice would you give to someone just arriving to Hohhot?

No advice really. Just don’t be so close minded when meeting new people. Anything else I believe they would want to control on their own.


Where do you go to “escape?”

Inside my earphones. No one knows where I am.


When your time here is done and you return home, what do you want to take with you?

I’m in a relationship now so hopefully a family.


You can hear and see more of Yannis by subscribing to SUMBIDY on YouTube.




Hohhot made CCTV’s facebook page

You can check out this video of police nabbing a thief. The video is complete with dramatic music and everything.

You can follow CCTV on facebook for news all over China.


What do you think about the video? Have you been pick-pocketed? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.


Also, happy Li Chun!

I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s today and I think it is the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar. If that’s correct, the lunar calendar and I disagree about the meaning of spring.



Mongolian Fire Ceremony

Today is a significant Mongolian holiday, but I’m not exactly sure what the best English translation for the day should be…fire remembrance day? Fire Ceremony?

*photo courtesy of Manda

Anyway, the holiday has its basis in animism and the historical respect for/worship of fire.

Here’s a brief article about it.

Here are some videos that were circulating on wechat today. *the audio is Mongolian


Mongolian calligraphy

I only understand a few hundred words of Mongolian so I can’t understand much of this video, but it’s a beautiful tribute to the Mongolian script.

Remember to check out studymongolian.net if you are interested in learning Mongolian.

If you’re interested in getting a Mongolian tutor, check out Caide Consulting.

If the embedded video doesn’t display properly use this link.
Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.

Friday’s foreigner: Anastasiya

Today is our fourth post in a series I hope we’ll do most Fridays.

Check back each week to “meet” the other expats!

See our other interviews here. 


Today, we’d like to introduce you to Anastasiya.


What’s your name, where are you from, what brought you to Hohhot and when did you arrive?

My name is Anastasiya. I’m from Donetsk, Ukraine and arrived in Hohhot in October 2014. My desire to keep working as a dance teacher brought me here. Whereas in my home, the situation was very tense and critical and I received a proposition to come to Hohhot to teach ballet. My parents were insisting I accept this position and leave home for some time and knowing the positive experience of my ballet teachers who used to work in China I decided to try.


What have been some of your professional successes in your industry?

Sometimes it feels like every little step forward is already success. Teaching without language knowledge is quiet challenging. But even though most of my ballerinas are completely beginners we were able to get 5th place in our first competition in August 2015. And 2nd place in a recent competition in December 2015.

Share with us some of the moments you were proudest of your students

Honestly I am proud of every student in my groups and grateful to the parents who trust me to educate their kids. My students are very different and aged from 4 to over 50 years old. All of them have big desires to learn from me, but also understand me despite language difficulties. I have to admit working with them is one of my best experiences of being here. I have girls who come to my classes since I just arrived. Seeing them growing and changing physically under ballet training during this time is my inspiration.
I am proud of them every lesson when they learn something new or after a few attempts when they could do movements that they couldn’t at the beginning, I am proud of them when they trying new costumes, perform, smile and I can see signs of happiness on their faces. And I am especially grateful to them and their attentive work when I have to lead classes without voice (this winter I lost it almost twice because of catching cold).


If you have free time, what do you do with it?

I like doing morning stretching or yoga, reading, shopping, meeting with friends and going to theater.

If you could make one city-wide change to Hohhot, what would it be?

I read your blog, Jill;) so, I would be agree with Agnes: please plant more trees!!! It will look completely different with more green around. And I would add signs in English for public transport maybe. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get around without knowing Chinese, especially at the beginning and therefore city doesn’t look friendly to foreigners in my opinion.

What has been the most surprising aspect of life here?
Well, there are quiet few things coming to my mind. But first price will win Chinese siesta with people sleeping even on the ground and this very special underpants/trousers with hole between legs for small kids. Never seen anything like that anywhere else!

What is the kindest thing a local has ever done for you?
There are so many incidents of my friends from Hohhot helping me that it’s very difficult to point to only one. I can’t imagine my life here without their help and definitely I couldn’t stay here for so long without their support.
Where do you go to “escape?”

I love traveling and feel like an obligation to discover China and Chinese culture while I’m here. I’m escaping to other cities and every trip makes the picture of China more colorful for me. And of course I escape back home to get love and energy from my family.

When your time here is done and you return home, what do you want to take with you?
I would love to take my students with me…but because I am realist and know is not possible I would take my best memories about work with them and my experience from teaching them.


If anyone is interested in learning ballet from Anastasiya, you can contact Ulanova International Children’s Art Education Center at 04712356611.

Free Meat!

A local beef and mutton company has a fantastic promotion going on now: GET FREE MEAT!

The full details are in Chinese below, but the basics are you go to their store on January 30, scan their QR code, take a photo in the store and share it on your moments, and walk out with 2 boxes of mutton (a 118 RMB value).

There are other promotions if you spend 500 or 1000 RMB, or just get your free meat.

Here are the two addresses: (maps are on the link below). Click here if it doesn’t display properly.

This one is near dong wa yao.


This one is a bit south and east of the exhibition center.
Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.

seen around town

With an infant I don’t get out and about as much as I used to, but it only took running one errand on Monday to see all of this craziness. Or normal-ness?


This older gentleman is taking his sheep out for an afternoon stroll around our neighborhood. That’s it there eating from the trash can.


I walked just a few more steps and they’re selling fresh beef at our gate. very fresh…butchering it right there.



This one is harder to see, but a sales promotion for electric cooking surfaces. One would think they wouldn’t want the one they cut open to show the inner workings to be the one with corroded acid leaking all over, but I’m no home appliances salesperson.

In better news, the shop at our gate is now selling Newman’s Own butter flavor microwave popcorn.


What interesting things have you seen around town this week?

weekend news

I feel like there are two main news events from the weekend.

First, traffic was even more horrendous than normal yesterday, that is, if you were trying to go anywhere that involved driving on or crossing Xin Hua. It took James one hour each way to go somewhere that normally take about 20 minutes. (Also 72 RMB instead of about 35).

Both taxi drivers told James there was some kind of meeting of government leaders so they closed Xinhua during the duration of the meetings.

The other big news is that it’s COLD. Some are saying it’s the coldest winter in 30 years. I’m not sure if that’s true, but below are two articles about the cold.
This one is pictures from all around northern China this winter.


This one is about six items to make the cold more bearable.


What advice do you have about staying warm? How do you handle Hohhot’s long, cold winters? Do you think this really is the coldest winter in 30 years?



« Older Entries