Archive for December 26, 2013

the day my mom arrived in Hohhot

My mom and four friends from the USA have been visiting us here in the Blue City. Our friends have actually already returned and my mom will return next week. Having visitors is fun, and exhausting.

My husband went to Beijing to pick them up. This left me at home with my two small girls for 3 days. I really was doing what I thought was a stellar job of holding down the fort. Then, due to bad weather, our friends missed a flight and were rerouted which meant their flight arrived12 hours later than normal. This meant their scheduled arrival back to HH would be pushed back (more time caring for the girls by myself). Then, our friend arrived but NOT ONE PIECE of their luggage arrived with them. Now, they need to stay in Beijing until they can track it down. (Even more time with the girls. I think a day and half or two days more).

But, I’m still doing ok. We are having all kinds of fun with cardboard boxes. Everyone is well-fed and happy and no one is peeing on the floor. I even had my oldest make a “Welcome Mimi!” sign to display for the arrival. We had dressed in our cutest clothes on arrival day one, but Mimi and Daddy were no shows. So, we dressed in our second cutest clothes on the next day and waited again.

The morning had gone rather well. The little one had taken her nap on schedule. Everyone was still happy and well-fed. Until the two moments prior to Mimi and Daddy waking in the door. The older one chose this moment to pee her pants in the middle of the living room. I whisked her up and sent her to the bathroom while I cleaned the floor to prevent the little one from playing in the mess. The little one is crying because she wants to play in the wet mess. The big one has finished her job in her pants and on the bath mat and is jumping in the mess when……in walk Mimi and Daddy. Seriously.

Hi Mom! Haven’t seen you in eight months! This is how I take care of your grandkids on the other side of the world…Nothing to worry about here! One plays in her pee and the other cries when I prevent her from playing in pee. Welcome to our life in Hohhot!

Not the welcome I had planned or anticipated, but this is real life. I hope those of you who are far from loved ones this year find some joy and humor in Hohhot life!

Merry Christmas, Hohhot!

I hope all who wanted to found a way to celebrate today. I tried to perk up and celebrate despite the flu ravaging my body, but that’s a post for another day. Because of the flu I haven’t left the house (or my bed really) for a few days. But, I have looked out the window and I got to thinking….I don’t ever remember a Christmas in Hohhot that there wasn’t snow on the ground. Most years I remembering it actually snowing on Christmas Day, and others there was at least residual snow from earlier snows. This year, I can’t even see snow on the Da Qing Shan. What gives? I tried to ask google to help me find the weather for Hohhot on this date for the past ten or so years, but that was a fruitless search. However, I did find this site with the weather history for the past twelve months. In summary I think the temperatures have been milder and we had much more rain than normal. I’m sorry if you’re already freezing, but either the real winter isn’t here yet or we’re getting a bit of a break this year.

So other Hohhot long-timers…how is my memory? Isn’t it odd that we haven’t had a snow yet? Do you remember having White Christmases in Hohhot? Does this winter seem warmer than years past? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

learning the city part six: more places names

The next installment of learning the city involves learning the names and  locations of the areas or neighborhoods in Hohhot. I decided to take the list  from this website which is a real estate website. I like it because it’s the only one I’ve found that you can  search by a smaller area than the city district yet a larger area than the  specific xiao qu. Anyway, their list of places is pretty comprehensive, so we’ll  use it to familiarize ourselves with the city. For the sake of the length of  each post, we’ll do fifteen per post. Some of these places are also bus stops, so knowing these names will help with navigating the bus system as well. Here  are today’s areas: I’ll post the characters, pinyin, and explanation, then a map below.
北垣街 běi yuán jiē This is an east-west road that runs along the south side of the train tracks. Along this road you can see the only remaining portion of the city wall.
润宇装饰城  rùn yǔ zhuāngshì chéng If you don’t know this place, it’s a pretty handy one to know. This is like Hohhot’s version of Lowe’s or Home Depot, only it spans almost an entire city block. Anything for home remodeling, repair or beautification can be found here. It’s on Xing An Lu just north of the train tracks and across the street from the Beijing Hualian. (There are more home repair and remodeling shops south and west (behind) the Hualian as well.
丽苑小区  lì yuàn xiǎo qū A housing development on ai min jie.
工大附近  gōng dà fùjìn The area around Gong Da (Inner Mongolia Technical University)
十九中附近shíjiǔ zhōng fùjìn The area around the number 19 middle or high school.
十四中附近  shísì zhōng fùjìn The area around the number 14 middle or high school.
巨海城  jù hǎi chéng A very large housing development in the south east part of town. It is divided into many numbered areas, so if you go to a friend’s house here, make sure you know the area number and that you’re in the right place!
竹园小区  zhú yuán xiǎo qū A housing development near the second ring road.
二十九中附近  èrshí jiǔ zhōng fùjìn Area around the number 29 school. Also the area where the air quality icon on the right gets its readings.
通道南街  tōngdào nán jiē The main north/south street running through the Hui District. This is the road the Big Mosque is located on.
县府街  xiàn fǔ jiē A road that crosses over the “river” just north and west of Da Zhao
如意广场  rúyì guǎngchǎng This is a plaza area on the east side of town.  This is another place I recommend, especially in the summer. All kinds of kids activities, sometimes outdoor concerts, food vendors, and all kids of fun without as many people as some of the other squares.
奈伦国际  nài lún guójì A large commercial building on Xin Hua Jie.
万达广场  wàn dá guǎngchǎng A large shopping center, commercial complex, and housing complex on the east side of town on Xin Hua Jie. Home to an IMAX theater and Vanguard Grocery Store.
学府康都 A commercial and residential development on Da Xue Lu west of Nei Da. The map of these locations is below. If it doesn’t display correctly, view it here.
map four

cook like a local: garlic chutes

Today is our first post in a series that will help those of you who want to learn to make local dishes at home. We have a dear, dear lady who helps us with cleaning and prepares our lunch four days a week and she will be one of our guides along this journey.

Today we’ll start with a very easy dish: stir-fried garlic chutes with pork.   蒜薹肉丝  suan tai rou si.

What you need:

– roughly 25-30 garlic chutes, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces

-pork strips. You can buy these pre-cut at any supermarket or just them yourself. We used about 1/3 cup but you can add more or less

-one large chopped tomato

-soy sauce

-hua Jiao or wu xiang fen (flower pepper or Chinese five spice)


-cooking oil

IMG_20131207_113527 IMG_20131207_113537 IMG_20131207_113646

and now, watch how it’s done:

and the finished product:

“family stuff” photography collection

The link below is to a photography collection by Huang Qing Jun. The photos were taken in 2012 and 2013. They showcase Chinese families in front of their home with all their possessions. I can’t be certain, but there are a few that look distinctly like Inner Mongolia. What do you think? If it’s not displaying correctly, check it out here. Click “family stuff” and then you can scroll through the photos.

more Christmas gifts!



If you’re looking for gifts with local flavor to give as Christmas gifts this season, check out these organic, hand-made milk soaps. It doesn’t get more Inner Mongolian than soap shaped like sheep! This is high-quality soap in very classy packaging. You can purchase this soap at the museum gift shop for 56 RMB each or at Wei Duo Li stores for a comparable price OR you can purchase them here for 40 RMB! You can pick up your order from the EXPAT EXCHANGE or I can deliver to you with some prior arrangement. Leave a comment, email or call 18747977365 to order. MONGOL TOWN also makes Mongolian style garment bags, t-shirts and will be releasing new products soon, so follow them on wechat using the QR code above. If you are viewing this post from outside Hohhot but would like to make a purchase, contact us and we can make it happen with payment via paypal and some minimal shipping costs.

Miscellaneous news


Avocados: I often hear foreigners complain about these being difficult to find in the city and I agree. I’ve also heard your north-siders can often find them at the far north WeiDuoLi. Is that correct? A fruit shop on Zhan Xi Lu Just north of Wu Lan Cha Bu Dong Jie has begun selling them for roughly 15 RMB each. And I received these suggestions today via email: There is a new store – across from the wen hua shang cheng on the corner near the south gate of Nei Da. It is a knick knack import shop worth investigating.    There is also a Russian store near Guo Mao that sells excellent chocolates from time to time.  Her note reminded me that I still haven’t updated this post to include another Russian import store that has some grocery items and gifts. Interesting finds here include good chocolate, cereal, waffles and interestingly enough, Twix candy bars. This one is located on the north side of Wu Lan Cha Bu Dong Jie between Zhan Xi Lu and Zhan Dong Lu.  And the 20-something guy that works there would like to be friends with a foreign guy his age.

Hohhot air quality


If you glance right you’ll notice I’ve added a widget for you to check out Hohhot’s air quality. Hohhot had multiple locations to choose from, but I chose the number 29 middle school.  If you want to check the other locations, you can do so here.

Hohhot seems to be doing better than many Chinese cities. Another reason I’m glad we live here: clean(er) air.

fire on Zhong Shan Lu


    I’m a day late in posting this, but I lacked the motivation to sign in and post it yesterday. Maybe it will still be “news” to a few of you.
There was a fire yesterday around noon at the elevator near the pedestrian crossing bridge that crosses over Zhong Shan Lu near the Min Zu Shopping Center.
The article didn’t mention casualties or injuries, but it gave fire prevention reminders and what to do if a fire break out.  Original language is below.

And in completely unrelated news:  Today is the last day to order your Hohhot shirts! Scroll down a few posts to order yours!

Have a relaxing Sunday!