Archive for December 31, 2015

this week’s market finds

Here’s another edition of what you might and might not want to buy around town.


A large box of French chocolate truffles for 99 RMB. I didn’t try them, but they seemed legit so it seems like a pretty good deal.

Located at Beijing Hualian across from Runyu (Xing An and Hailar)


Small Jif peanut butter for 47 RMB. I will personally be angry with you if you buy this for this price. We can’t let the stores think this is the market value for this product. You can get 2-3 times as much for 35 RMB at Dong Wa Yao.

Also located at Beijing Hualian across from Runyu (Xing An and Hailar) but I saw a similar size and price at the Weiduoli in the basement of City Mall.
And it seems avocados are becoming a staple at many of the larger fruit markets. However, this week, the one near our home on the corner of Zhan Dong Lu and Ai Min Jie has them for 5 RMB each. Join us for guacamole later this week. 🙂


What interesting, cool, tasty, or overpriced items have you seen this week?



Message from Embassies

The US Embassy issued the following message today.

The U.S. Embassy has received information of possible threats against Westerners in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, on or around Christmas Day.  U.S. citizens are urged to exercise heightened vigilance.  The U.S. Embassy has issued the same guidance to U.S. government personnel.

  • The State Department’s Worldwide Travel Alert message remains in effect.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, located at 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, by phone at (+86 10) 8531-4000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or by email at For AFTER HOURS EMERGENCIES, call 8531-3000 to speak to the operator.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays).

The British Embassy issued a similar message that can by read by clicking the link.


because it’s almost Christmas…

…and because we have small kids. There has been quite a bit of talk about reindeer in our house. Are they real? do they fly? Can we have one?

To stop the questions for a few brief moments, I found this video on youtube about China’s “reindeer herders, the Ewenki/Evenki/Ewenke ethnic minority. If you don’t know, this minority group calls Inner Mongolia home and are known historically for herding and hunting reindeer. They are one of the smallest minority groups in China. You can see displays about them and learn more at the Inner Mongolia Museum.

The documentary below is in four parts (Only part one is linked). It’s a bit slow-moving (especially if you are 2 and 4 years old) and gets a PG rating for language (again, because the kids were watching). If you watch in its entirety you can piece together quite a bit about the history and current state of this group.

If you’re watching just to showcase the reindeer to your preschoolers, speed ahead to the 10, 16, and 20 minute marks. Watch the last 2-3 minutes for the baby reindeer, which was indeed the highlight 🙂

Also, the link below is from youtube so you’ll need a VPN to watch, but if you notice in the top right corner the video must also be available on youku.


If you need a VPN check out the sidebar on the right for a link to Express VPN!

Friday’s Foreigner: James

Today is our first in a series of posts I hope we’ll do every Friday, but I make no promises. I can promise at least some Fridays I’ll post an interview with a foreigner here in Hohhot.

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


This week starts with my favorite foreigner in Hohhot: my husband, James.

James profile

Q:What’s your name, what brought you to Hohhot and when did you arrive?

A: My name is James Judd.  I first came to Hohhot in 2005 to work for a trading company.  I stayed 2 years, left, and then came back in 2012.  I spent a year working on Chinese and then opened a consulting business. We specialize in business consulting, but we’re also teaching some parenting classes and offering Chinese/Mongolian language study help for foreigners. 


Q: What’s your favorite local food and where do you like to get it:

A: Hot Pot.  I have a strong penchant for Xiao Fei Yang (Little Fat Sheep), but I’ll take it almost anywhere I can get it.  My dream is to die in a bowl of majiang.


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

A: I wish everyone would start asking me a better question than, “Where are you from?”  It would be nice to have better conversations with more variety when I meet people.


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

A: I don’t know if it is the funniest, but what comes to mind is a month or two ago one of my friends called me late Friday night.  “You have a driver’s license, right?  Could you drive my friend’s van so we can pick some people up at the train station?”  He was an old friend and I didn’t have anything planned so I thought, “Why not?”  I got up early and road my scooter over to the Moercheng area where he lives.  He comes down, but there is one problem.  No keys for the van I’m supposed to drive.  His friend never came through on bringing him the keys, and now his phone is power off.  I’m figuring it is a lost cause and I’ll be back home before you know it.  We start wandering around his apartment complex, and suddenly he’s like, “I think that is his van.”  We look around and there is a phone number on the dash.  He calls it, and sure enough it is the guy.  Sure we can use his van.  Then he says, “The driver’s door is unlocked and the keys are under the seat!”

You can’t leave your bike unlocked, but you can leave your keys in the van…


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

A: There are a lot of them.  In 2013 we had to make an emergency trip home to the states because I needed back surgery. We knew we weren’t going to stay in that apartment, and our lease was up while we would be gone.  I put a message out on Wechat seeing if anyone knew a place we could store our stuff.  One of my acquaintances that I hadn’t seen since 2007 said, “Sure, I have an extra bedroom you can store your stuff in.”  So we did… for 9 months.  That is pretty nice for someone you haven’t personally seen in 6 years.  I told my friends in the states, “He is nicer to his acquaintances than I am to my brother.”


Q: Where do you go to “escape?”

A: I can’t tell you, or you would go there too and I couldn’t escape anymore. 😉


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

A: Hopefully some fluency in Chinese and Mongolian. 🙂 Hopefully some good memories of being a blessing to Hohhot and Inner Mongolia.



some information about wechat

Here is an article that lists the top ten wechat accounts for foreigners living in China.

Which of them were you following already? Is there another you’d add to the list?

This article is titled 20 Amazing ways wechat is used in China but it is essentially introducing features you may not have known how to use.

You need a bank account linked to your wechat wallet to use most of the services mentioned. If you do decide to use them, just remember that wechat isn’t known for its stellar security or privacy. (quite the opposite).

We have a wechat group for this website. If you’d like to join, get in touch with me and I can send you an invitation to the group.

Hand Made Christmas Trees

Are you still looking for a Christmas gift or looking for a way to add some Christmas cheer to your home? Some local ladies are selling handmade fabric Christmas trees.
mmexport1450184428776trees measure 23X18 cm
mmexport1450184431755You may also request these hand-made greeting cards.
Trees can be purchased for 89 RMB.
English speaking customer service is available. Call Oyuna at 15034796051 or contact her via wechat at oyun578347667

Don’t forget we have Hohhot-themed gifts as well!

market finds

Here’s another edition of great, helpful, odd, funny, or random things I’ve found in our fair city recently.
I’ve seen these a few places around town. Is this a legitimate Starbucks product? I’m not really a coffee drinker (although three kids have pushed me closer to becoming one than I used to be) so I don’t buy coffee often. Something just seems off about the packing in making me believe it’s an authentic product. Plus, I don’t remember seeing these in the actual Starbucks. Thoughts, anyone?

If you’d like to try them regardless of their legitimacy, you can find them at the large convenience store inside our complex, which is Ming Du Feng Jing. The store has quite a few interesting imports including Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, Russian Tiramisu (and other Russian products), and random cookies and crackers and such.



Florida Marlins bedding fabric. Of course. and spelling mistakes. of course.

IMG_20150619_092951This picture is here to serve as a warning: do not buy these. I got them on clearance at a small import store near our home. I did not expect them to be “fresh” blueberries, but I should have read the Chinese more carefully. They were blueberry flavored (only not quite) dried plums with big seeds in the middle.


IMG_20151206_193838 IMG_20151206_193854
I found these at the 5-4 market (wu si shang chang) the other day. They may not be the best socks I’ve ever had, but they are close. And they are DEFINITELY the best 5 kuai socks I’ve had.


What great or crazy items have you encountered recently?  Leave us a comment.

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