Archive for October 30, 2013

site updates

10/30/2013

Most of the inner pages were updated over the weekend, and I linked to most of the old blog posts on the related page so hopefully you can find them more easily.
I posted the first round of the restaurant guide on the food page so check that out and I’ll update and add to it as I can. And as always, your comments and suggestions are appreciated.
And lastly, I hope to have some big news to share with all of you in the next few days, so check back throughout the week.

travel is getting easier: new flights

10/30/2013

New flights will now be available from Manzhouli to Ulaanbaatar! Manzhouli is the border crossing town on the China/Russia border in Inner Mongolia and Ulannbaatar is the capital of the country of Mongolia to our north. I also saw a news posting last week that there will now be direct flights from Hohhot to Alxa (A La Shan Meng).
Living in our somewhat remote part of the world, it’s always good news when travel to and from even more remote places than Hohhot gets easier.Article about Manzhouli flights linked below.

learning the city part three: landmarks and universities

This post continues our series on finding your way around the city. First, we covered the basic geography and boundaries of the city. Next, we talked about learning the city by learning the bus routes.
Today, I’ve tried to compile a list of important places for navigating
the city. My intention was that if you knew where these places were and how to
navigate to, from, and between them, you’d be well on your way to being a
local. However, as my list grew longer and longer, I realized this topic also would have more than one post. So, today’s post consists of the MAJOR landmarks, universities,
transportation stations, and places important to foreigners.

First, let’s start with the places foreigners need to know. Those places are your foreign affairs office (wai ban) local pai chu suo (local police station that governs your neighborhood), your district police station (XX fen ju), the main city police station, and the health examination facility. Most of your employers or school will take you to these places, but they’re handy to know for yourself. When you register for a resident card you will have to complete a health exam, get papers stamped at each level of police station, then take all documents to the main station to get the document in your passport. There are way too many pai chu suos to map, then there are at least 4 xx fen jus (with xx being the name of your district) and I didn’t map those either. The main police station and the health examination center are on the map. The police stations are good to know if you need to report a crime or you lose your passport. The main station is where you get any changes to your visa or resident card.

Next, the universities. I included only the major universities and only the main/old  campus. Most of the schools now have new campuses on the outskirts of town or out in the da xue cheng (university city) north and east of the city.  I also realized I left off the Finance and Economics University where some of you teach. It’s just south and east of the Nationalities College. If you learn the universities and their respective gates you can begin to navigate at least a good portion of Sai Han District and some other areas as well.

Next, some major landmarks to be familiar with are gu lou/lijiao qiao, the old museum, the current museum, the race track, the train stations, and the airport. The racetrack is distinct to find on a map and makes a good, easy-to-find landmark for the north side of town. The old museum is a distinct building with a white horse on top and from there you can easily navigate toward one of the main shopping districts and many other places in the city center. The current/new museum is also distinctive and made to look like the grasslands and it’s a location that everyone knows and from there you can navigate the eastern part of Hohhot. In my opinion, gu lou/li Jiao qiao is the geographic center of the city. It’s the overpass/bridge a bit east of the old museum.

Lastly, the train stations and airport are essential for getting anywhere out of Hohhot. The bus station is located in the same plaza as the main train station, so if you can find one, you can find the other.

In the coming days I’ll post a few more entries about navigating the city and finding your way around.

map one

 

the second best use of a ping pong ball

10/25/2013

Alternately titled: my husband is a genius.
If you live in a building where your bathroom never stinks, I’m truly happy for you. For the rest of us, you know the stink I mean. I don’t mean an identifiable, reasonable stink…I mean a stink that is wafting from the drain and its source is clearly not anyone residing in your home. I’m clearly no engineer and I can offer no explanation of why, but I (or rather, my brilliant husband) can offer a solution. Brace yourselves, it will set up back a few kuai……it’s a ping pong ball.
Here’s how it works: when you have a smelly drain, the stink can be remedied by placing a ping pong ball in the drain hole. If it works perfectly, it will float up when water needs to go down the drain and fall back in to the hole and make a smell barrier when it falls back in place over the hole. (see picture of our bathroom and ping pong ball usage below) From our experience, it has eliminated about 90% of the odor that used to make that particular bathroom almost unbearable to use. However, it doesn’t always float up and down exactly as planned.
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If it’s a drain you rarely use, you can just buy a rubber stopper and plug it completely. I also have faint recollections of an engineer who used to live here who made a stopper than could be opened and closed for stink-stopping purposes. If you know how to do that, leave a comment for the rest of us.
*This post is dedicated to the three wonderful ladies I had lunch with last weekend. That’s right, four foreign ladies had lunch together and discussed bathroom plumbing issues. I hope you all find a solution for your bathroom/kitchen woes.

Learning the city part two: bus routes

10/23/2013

Another way to learn your way around the city is to learn the bus routes. (I have yet to accomplish this task). I know many of you love the buses and I’m glad. I personally prefer modes of transportation that can travel in the bike lane. But, for those of you who don’t mind waiting for the buses, or crowding on, or standing up to get where you’re going, here’s the first round of pin yin-ified bus routes for you. I’ll work on completing this task, but I thought I’d get what I had finished up. I’ll also put them on the around the city page. (when I figure out a better format, ugh.)

Some considerations about the bus system:
-Routes 1, 2, 3, and 4 are free as part of some kind of “green” initiative the city has.
-Most local friends say that the biggest hold up/slow down on the bus routes in when the buses have to go to/by the train station. So, if there’s an option to choose a bus that doesn’t pass or stop at the train station it will generally be faster.
-Supposedly Hohhot is planning on adding 400 new buses a year for the next ten years, so hopefully the traffic situation will improve as more buses are added.

And so, for the third or fourth try in three different formats in two days ….here is the first round of bus routes. I’ll work on completing the rest and making them in a more user friendly format in the future. But for today, this is what you get.

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Hohhot bike rental

10/21/2013

A new “spin” on an old version of transportation. (like the pun??) Hohhot’s getting 50 public bike rental stations! I will include the original language below, but I think this is what’s going down: There are plans for 50 stations, but they are introducing the program by starting with 3 stations. (I saw one of the corner of Zhao Wu Da and Wu Lan Cha Bu). The article lists locations at the swimming pool east of the train station, at Shi Da, and anther location I’m not familiar with. You get a bike with a 210 RMB deposit and and ID card and then the bikes are one RMB per hour, not to exceed 10 RMB/day. You get your deposit back when you return your bike to any station.
Hohhot’s Sanitation Department will be in charge of security and maintenance of the bikes and they’ve already begun training. The project has just begun, but in the end, the plan is to have 2500 bikes available.
Happy biking, everyone!

Chi Le Chuan Museum

10/20/2013

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 I’m not sure if this museum is new, or just one I’d never heard of, but I figured if I hadn’t heard of it before, maybe my lovely readers would like to know too. The information I received is below in Chinese, but I’ll summarize as best I can.
Chi Le Chuan Museum (a subsidiary of the Inner Mongolia Musuem) is located in Baotou City Right Banner inside the border of Salaqi along the Hohhot-Batou highway about 113 km from Hohhot. It has two main exhibit halls of Chi Le Chuan history and life.  Admission is free on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Contact phone number is 888 8935.
喜欢怀旧的朋友明天可以驾车去敕勒川博物馆转转,它位于包头市土右旗的萨拉齐境内,沿呼包高速公路行至约113公里的美岱召附近即到。这里主要有敕勒川历史和敕勒川民俗两大展览,尤其是它的民俗陈列,会把你带进从前回老家过暑假的日子里!
该馆逢二、四、六、日免费开放,隶属内蒙古博物院分院。
咨询电话:8888935

Further explanation about Chi Le Chuan: It’s my understanding that “chi le chuan” is a description of the plains area of this part of Inner Mongolia from a famous poem/song  . (poem/song in the original language below). I’m not going to attempt to translate poetry, but I will put the pin yin by it and tell you that’s it basically a beautiful description of the plains, grasslands, and sky. When I was a student at Nei Da one of our teachers made us memorize it and I’m actually really thankful because it’s one of those things you can reference at a banquet and everyone will think you are really, really wen ming (cultured).

敕勒歌–北朝民歌  chi le ge– bei chao min ge

敕勒川,阴山下   chi le chuan yin shan xia
天似穹庐,笼盖四野。 tian si qiong lu, long gai si ye
天苍苍,野茫茫,tian cang cang, ye mang mang
风吹草低见牛羊。feng chui cao di xian niu yang

So, if you’re looking something to do and get out of town just a bit, this seems like a good option. Leave a comment after you’ve checked it out! (or to correct my Chinese!)

Concerts!

10/17/2013

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If you don’t have plans this weekend, check out the International Humai (Mongolian throat singing where two tones are produced simultaneously) Competition on Friday and a host of Mongolian performers on Saturday. Contact information and details are in the “upcoming events” sections of the forum.

Happy Heat Turns On Day!

10/15/2013

I hope you are all basking in your slowly-warming-up houses. Again, I feel like this day this year feels a bit less celebratory than normal because the temps outside haven’t been nearly as cold as normal for this time of the year.
So, in order to make today’s post a true celebration, feast your eyes on the this photo:
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If it’s not clear enough, let me elaborate. I think we can safely move “Hohhot is getting a Starbucks” from the rumor mill to fact.  I’ve seen this sign along Zhong Shan Lu that announces “Inner Mongolia’s First Starbucks” as well as a similar announcement on the scrolling marquee at Minzu Shopping Center on Zhong Shan Lu. What is still in the rumr mill, however, is the location. Some have said it will be somewhere near these signs along Zhong Shan Lu and others have said it’s going in Wei Duo Li’s new mall on Xin Hua Jie across from Chang Le Gong. I also can’t find a confirmed opening date. (If you know leave us all a comment)!
Others may be just as excited to notice in the top left corner of the photo that a H&M is also coming, and I believe perhaps more than one location.

So, fellow Hohhotians (is that a word?)…enjoy your warm day knowing some new things are coming to our fine city!

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