Archive for May 29, 2015

Carrefour Xin Hua location opened today!

I should have snapped a pic as we drove by, but I didn’t. It appears that today is truly the opening of the Carrefour on the north side of Xin Hua just east of Dong Ying Nan Lu, diagonal from Mo Er Cheng/Victory Mall.
I was told a few weeks ago that the opening date would be May 29th, however, I was hesitant to post it since we had also been told December 2013, April 2014, July 2014, and so on and so on.
But today there are milk displays, balloon archways, lots of traffic and folks walking out with goods in Carrefour plastic bags. I can only assume that means it did, in fact, open today.
Happy grocery shopping!

Ten Hohhot News Items

There’s a news article that seems to be popular among my local friends so I thought I would share the highlights here with you, lovely readers. The article lists ten recent news items related to Hohhot. I’ll post the article in full below, but I’ll do my best to translate the headlines for you.

ONE: another expressway will open in late July in Hohhot. It will be have be 80 km of six lanes without signal lights

TWO: Subway lines one and two will be ready in 2020 according to the Metro Planning National Development and Reform Commission

THREE: Hohhot ranked 45th out of 289 cities in sustainable competitiveness

FOUR: A new landmark in Hohhot-A new bus station transport hub in the East will be ready in October

FIVE: Train service from Hohhot to Shenzhen began on May 20th (schedule included in Chinese article below)

SIX: The whole country will have a day of vacation on September 3

SEVEN: Pensions of retired personnel in Inner Mongolia increased by an average of about 10%

EIGHT: Decided! Civil Service salary will increase by 300 yuan per capita by the end of June

NINE: Good news! The education requirements for employment are being relaxed (I’m not entirely sure about my translation of this one).

TEN: A new flower garden will open in Hohhot at the end of May and entrance is free!

Read the full articles below:

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cook like a local: pork and green peppers

Welcome to next post designed to help us make some local dishes at home. I think our last post was well over a year ago, but here’s to hoping they come in more frequent increments in the future. (but no promises)

You can check out this page for the other recipes we’ve posted.

Below are the instructions for making 肉炒青椒 ròu chǎo  qīng jiāo or stir fried pork and green peppers. This was made by a 40+ year old local woman, but I’m sure each family has their own way of making this dish so there may be some differences in amounts or order. However, if you follow these basic instructions, you’ll produce some pretty tasty results.



Ingredients: 2-3 large green peppers, a bit of meat, 1 large tomato, a few cloves of garlic, green onion or leeks (all diced as pictured above)

Also: cooking oil, soy sauce, salt, and hua jiao (Chinese prickly ash, a seasoning)

cooking the pork

cooking the pork

Start by cooking the pork in a couple tablespoons of oil

adding green onions/leeks and garlic

adding green onions/leeks and garlic

Once the meat is almost done, add the soy sauce (a couple tablespoons or more depending on your taste) and the green onions or leeks.

adding tomatoes

adding tomatoes

Add the diced tomato.

adding salt and hua jiao (Chinese prickly ash)

adding salt and hua jiao (Chinese prickly ash)

Allow the tomatoes the cook down a bit. Add salt and hua jiao to taste. They will make the dish saucy. If you want it even more saucy, you can add just a bit of water.

add peppers

add peppers

Add the peppers. Continue to cook until peppers are done to your liking.

finished product

finished product

Here’s your finished product! The tomatoes will mostly cook down to create a nice sauce.

Allen Iverson in Hohhot

You read that right. I stayed up way too late last night trying to confirm or deny this Chinese news article that was on Inner Mongolia New’s wechat public account yesterday. So far, everything about the article mostly checks out.

According to the article, Allen Iverson will be at Inner Mongolia Stadium on May 25 at 7:30 pm. I can’t figure out if it’s like an exhibition game or just him or what exactly. The article states that the trip involves stops in Daqing, Harbin, Xian, and Hohhot. Allen Iverson’s twitter account (you can search for #AlChinaTour) confirms that he’s in China and makes reference to all those cities…..except Hohhot. I’d like to think that if the rest of the details of the article are true, the Hohhot appearance is as well.

The article states 3000 tickets have already been sold and are going fast at rates of 1500, 1000, 400, and 200 RMB depending on seating.

I have read other articles in Chinese that confirm the details in the article linked above, but haven’t found any English sources to confirm it.

So if it’s true, who’s going to see him? Anyone have a reliable source to confirm or deny?




Free tickets to tourist sites

Apparently May 19 has been named “China Travel Day” and because of that many local tourist locations will have free entrance tickets and others will be discounted.

The full article is in Chinese below so you can check my accuracy, but here’s the list as I read it.

Zhao Jun and Five Pagoda: half price

The General’s Quarters (the old place near gu lou): 20% off

Yili’s Travel Area will give away free products and coupons for products

Zhao Jun Museum and Xi Li Tu Temple (the small temple) will have 300 free entrance tickets each (first come, first serve)

And the Inner Mongolia Travel Service also has some kind of special about some kind of travel card, but I’m not clear on the details.

The article goes on to list the travel specials for Baotou, Alxa, Wulanchab, Xilingol, Chifeng, Tongliao, Hulunbeir, and Wuhai. If you plan to travel in the coming days, have a local friend help you check out the specials!

I can’t get the embedding to display correctly, but here’s the link to the full article in Chinese.


Hohhot Life Hacks, part one

Today is our first post in a series designed to help you 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!


ONE:   Smelly bathroom drain

We wrote about this a long time ago and here is the link to the older post. There are a few solutions for this one. There are drains that can be installed that can open and shut. They open to let water down the drain then shut to keep smells out. They work well, but you have to be able to find them, install them, and pay for them. (You can purchase these drains at almost any bathroom fixture store and they’ll have a guy who can install it for you, but this post is about a simpler solution).

If it’s a drain you never/rarely use, just plug it or cover it. If it’s a drain you use, here is our suggestion.

Hack: Use a ping pong ball


Here is a drain in our former residence. Theoretically, the ping pong ball will rise when water needs to go out of the drain and fall back into place to stop the smell when the water goes down.

TWO: Taking lots of stuff on the train

Are you taking the train with lots of stuff? Do you want someone to help you load your things? Or, do you want to help see someone off? Train station security has made it more difficult for non-ticketed passengers to go down to the platform.

Hack: Buy a ticket from one Hohhot station to the other. It’s only a few RMB and then you’ll be able to help a friend or have a friend help you.

Thanks to JS for contributing this one


THREE:  Hanging stuff on concrete walls

I know there is more than one solution for this, and the most sturdy is to call a guy with a hammer drill and have him install whatever it is you want to hang up. However, I think the best and most affordable option are the hooks picture below.

Hack: Hardwall hangers


We purchased these particular ones at a hardware store in the US, but they can also be found at Ikea, where they come in a set of other wall-hanging items. They’re in a plastic case with other kinds of nails and hooks.

Ikea’s version here


The ones from the US hardware store come in 15 pound and larger 25 pound varieties and a package of 6 or so was about $3-4. You simply hammer the three prongs in and can hang whatever you’d like on the hooks. They don’t crack the wall and you can remove them easily when you leave to re-use and they have only put three small pinholes in your landlords wall.

Order hardwall hangers here from amazon


FOUR: Shower making the entire bathroom wet

In the years I have been here, I’d say one of the biggest changes is the vast improvement in the overall appearance, comfort, and conveniences of personal residences. I realize the condition of bathroom in homes is improving all the time, but they are generally still not designed very much like American/Western homes.

Sometimes, in fact, they are designed with the shower head directly over the sink or washing machine or something else and makes a big wet mess every time you shower. Other times it’s much better. Of course, sometimes there is a way to hang a shower curtain to contain the spraying. (A shower curtain costs 20-40 RMB at any larger supermarket and a tension rod to hang it costs 40-80 at some of the biggest supermarkets. I haven’t seen them at Vanguard or Spar, but Carrefour and HuaLian both have them).

The purpose of this post is to talk about the water mess on the floor, not the spray mess. Our new house is actually very well-designed compared to the other places we have lived, with a little cove behind the door for the shower. However, the water would still run all over the floor and because it was so close to the door, sometimes in the hallway too.

HACK: A piece of rubber or plastic tubing

Stop water from running all over your bathroom floor.

Stop water from running all over your bathroom floor.

We bought this piece of hose for 10 RMB/meter. The caulk was another 7 RMB and the caulk gun another 10. We caulked on both sides of it and now, with the shower curtain, the water stays where we want it to and doesn’t make the rest of the room wet.

FIVE: Want to use an appliance with a different plug-in type, voltage, or just one that can’t be found here?

Appliances common in the West are getting easier and easier to come by now and so many times it will just be easier to buy it here than to use this hack. However, if you have something from home that’s near and dear to your heart or some brand you just prefer to the Chinese brand or model, here’s how to make it work with the electricity here.

converter IMG_20150413_181704

I’m not an electrical engineer so forgive me if my technical terms aren’t accurate. But basically this box plugs into China’s standard plug and then the appliance, in this case my mixer, can be plugged and without any fear of flipping a breaker or starting a fire or other hazard. These magic converter boxes come in all watts or voltages or whatever and are clearly labeled with what they are converting. If you can find the output of the appliance you want to use take it to any of the big electronics stores (map of the three biggest that I know of is below), they can sell you one of these boxes that will convert it. I think this one cost roughly 50 RMB. Now I can use any standard American small appliance. (Again, you’ll have to consider if it’s worth the luggage space to bring your stuff from America or to just buy the appliance here).



Mongolian Felt Art Exhibition


“Mongolian Nomads” Felt Art Exhibition


You are cordially invited to the opening ceremony of “Mongolian Nomads” Felt Art Exhibition by Mongolian artist Jagralsaikhan Tavkhi.

Date: on Sunday, 17th May, 2015 at 11:00 am

Duration: 17-19 th May 2015

Place: 3th floor, 奥都泰 Mongolian restaurant   

Adress: 新城区成吉思汗大街阳光诺卡比塞塔商业街109

See pictures and more details here. Nomads Mongolian

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