Archive for February 29, 2016

Hohhot’s International Schools

And by that title, what I really mean is lack of international schools.

I occasionally get asked this question via wechat or email, so I’ll put what I know about schooling options for international kids in this post.

  • There are many 幼儿园you er yuans (preschools/kindergartens/whatever word your country uses) with “international” in their name. Don’t let this fool you. I don’t know any of them that have even one international student. The name just means that they either supposedly adhere to some kind of international curriculum or they have a foreign teacher or they teach an English class.
  • There’s also Honder International School.They actually have a lot of international students, most of whom are university level or higher. I think they have a high school, but to my knowledge there aren’t any foreign students in that part of the school (some of you who teach there comment if you know otherwise).
  • I haven’t personally known any Western families here who have sent their children to local schools. I have known of some one local parent/one foreign parent families who have but most of those ended up returning to the other parent’s home country. I’ve known a couple Japanese families who have used local schools, but their children could speak fluent Mongolian and went to Mongolian local school. I’m sure there are Outer Mongolian families (or one parent Outer/one parent Inner Mongolian) who use local schools, I just don’t know them personally.
  • I’ve been told there is only one local school with the official permission to accept foreign students (other than universities): 呼和浩特市民族实验学校 the Experimental School on the southwest corner of Xing An and Da Xue Lu. They do have foreign students…Buryat Russians and Mongolians. (again, no Westerners) Although the school does have a number of foreign students, the methods, curricula, scheduling, and all other aspects of the school are like a typical local school.
  • There’s a school called 英伯恩国际学校 Ying Bo En that now has a you er yuan and I’ve heard they have plans to partner with and move one location out to Tai Wei ski slopes/golf course and incorporate those sports into their school programs. Again, it has international in the name because they supposedly follow a British model, but to my knowledge they don’t have any foreign students and no full time foreign teachers. Also, you can expect the school fees for this school to be proportionate to the housing prices at Tai Wei (10 million RMB/house).
  • All the families I know in town currently either homeschool or don’t have school age children. Some of them cooperate for their homeschooling for interaction with other kids and for special classes and projects.


Do you think Hohhot is ready for a true international school? Did I leave out any vital information in this post? Leave us a comment.



Friday’s Foreigner: Pedro

Hello, lovely readers. This week I’d like to introduce you to someone who is relatively new to the Blue City, Pedro Rodrigues!

Check out our previous interviews here, and check back next week to meet someone else!


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

My name is Pedro Rodrigues and I am from Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. I am a football coach and I arrived here in the last days of October 2015 to teach football.


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

Of course, before being a football coach I was a football player! As a player I won three times the District Championship of Porto in U9, U10 and U12, one time the International Pontinha Tournament in U12 and I was series Champion in U16 of the District Championship of Porto. As a Football Coach I was two consecutive times series champion in U18 of the District Championship of Porto and I won the São João de Ver Tournament in U11.


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

Yes, I have free time and I enjoy it a lot. I like to see movies on the cinema, read books, go to the gym and stroll into town…


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

My life before Hohhot was particularly linked to teaching physical education and football. I was giving physical education classes in a public school and I was football coach of the first team of Lamas Union Football Club.


Favorite local food and where you like to get it:

I am a person who likes very much to eat and unfortunately I cannot say the names of Chinese restaurants which I usually go, because for me is hard to pronounce the name and is difficult to write in English. I don´t know the name, but I can tell that I like to eat a kind of bread with vegetables and meat inside. However, I usually go to restaurants with international food and of course I know the name of them, it is the Fanier and the Seven Pizza Bar.


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

For sure, I would like to have a subway in the city.


What has been the most surprising aspect of life here?

For me this is the first time in China, so of course it was the traffic on the streets and the way the Chinese people drive the cars.


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

I think you will laugh a lot. The funniest thing that I have experienced here was after a dinner in a barbecue restaurant. I try to speak in Chinese and I call the waiter, but instead of saying that I want the bill I said that she was sexy, I confuse the Chinese words. You know, it was embarrassing, my friend was laughing, I turn red in seconds, I understood my mistake and I made what I need to do, I apologized to her. After I said the correct word to ask the bill, me and my friend laughed a lot.


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

I cannot specify a moment or a local, everyone has been nice, welcoming and polite with me.


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

Come to Hohhot and bring warm clothes.


Where do you go to “escape?”

I enjoy a lot two things to put my mind where no one can disturb me, when I´m running in the gym or listening music and walking in the city.


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

I want to take all the good and bad memories that can make me better and more competent and professional. I hope with this experience, in another country with a different culture, I can become a better football coach.


If someone is interested in your program, who can they contact? 

 The people who want more information about Winning League Football Academy can call to this number 13171090089 or 13304712425.

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Inner Mongolia Chorus Performance

Below are some photos and videos from Inner Mongolia Chorus’s performance of international music. They performed selections from China, Russia, Germany, US, Italy, and more.
There’s another showing tonight at 8 pm at the the performance hall just north of the museum. The address is on Beiyuan Road, but that takes you to the back of the building, so walk around to the front if you enter from Beiyuan. There’s a small road just north of the museum, that round will take you to the entrance of the building, which is white with holes/small circles covering the building.
Tickets are free but you have to have one to enter.

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Hohhot’s Subway

I think by now everyone has heard that the subway is coming. However, if you notice in the bottom right corner of the map, the first two lines aren’t even scheduled to be finished until 2020, and that’s if everything goes according to schedule.

I’m acutely aware of the terrible traffic situation, but I’m also not holding my breath that it will get any better for at least five years or so. Also, there’s no guarantee that a subway will fix the problems anyway. I’m not sure why people like fighting the traffic and wasting time looking for parking spots, but they clearly do and just because there’s a subway doesn’t mean that everyone will stop driving.

What do you think? Will it fix the traffic situation? Will it make it worse in the waiting time? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.


For more information you can follow Hohhot’s subway official wechat account at hhhtdtcom. (the above photo is from there)

more resources for studying Mongolian

Please don’t think that my Mongolian is actually to the point that I could use the following translation service, but for those of you doing research or for those with much better Mongolian than mine, here’s a resource for you.

Convert from Cyrillic Mongolian to Traditional Mongolian at the click of a mouse

This website allows you to input text from the traditional vertical script and convert to the Cyrillic used in Outer Mongolia, and vice versa. Our local friend who told us about it said it’s fairly accurate.

Happy linguistic pursuits to all of you!


Remember to check out if you decide to try Mongolian. You can also check out this previous post about other options. Caide Consulting can also get you a fabulous Mongolian tutor.

Papa John’s

The opening of a Papa John’s in Hohhot was news to me. Did you know about it already? Are you excited or indifferent? leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.
The dine-in restaurant is open, but delivery service hasn’t started yet.

Location is the east corner of Zhong Shan Lu and Xilingol Road. (south of the Da Tian hotel, east of Hailiang)
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Friday’s foreigner: KC

Welcome to the next installment of Friday’s Foreigner. This week meet KC!

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

See our other interviews here. 


My name is KC Higley, I’m from Atwood, Kansas. I came to Hohhot to work in late 2010, after spending 9 months working in Beijing.

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

Well I’m cooking more now than when I first came. I used to eat out and eat a lot of fast food, but after 5 years or living in China I finally started cooking more American food at my house.

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

What’s free time? I have a two year old daughter a lot of my free time is spent with her, but I also do a lot of reading and I build and paint models.

Favorite local food and where you like to get it:

My favorite local food is Beef Noodle Soup and my favorite restaurant for it is about a three minute walk north of City Mall.

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

Hmm, I’m not sure. Perhaps a subway or people just following the traffic laws.

What has been the most surprising aspect of life here?

How fast the city has changed in the last 5 years. I was talking to friends about this recently, about how Hawkers at one time was the pinnacle  of restaurants in the city. Now it seems like there are 100,000 options.

What is the funniest thing a local has ever done for/to you?

One time my neighbor made me dumplings for spring festival but didn’t tell me about the coin in one of them. So when I was eating them, I bit the coin and chipped my tooth.

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

Everyday? I am a big guy so I get a lot of looks, but I remember one time when I was in a village outside Beijing an older woman was riding her bike towards me. She saw me and we locked eyes, and she never broke eye connect, until she road her bike into a ditch and corn fields.

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

Dress warm and enjoy it. I like Hohhot, it’s a small and quiet city which is different than other cities in China. I think it is easy to complain about it, but it’s grown on me and feels like a second home.

Where do you go to “escape?”

Depends how long of an escape I need. If only for a few hours I like going up to the mountain, but if I need a few days then I love DaLi.

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

Umm, my wife and daughter…but I think I want to take back all the memories. I’m not a big physical possessions guy, so memories are enough.


KC started a weekly quiz bowl gathering, which has kind of quieted down, but he’d like to get it started again. If you have an interest in participating, serving as quiz master, or want more information, you can connect with him on wechat: phox53.



We made this video to show our friends and family back home, so you folks that live here will find the brief moments of commentary quite lame.

Anyway, here is what the New Year’s eve fireworks looked like form our house. It in no way compared to our previous 18th floor view, but it still put most US cities’ 4th of July celebrations to shame.

CNY 2016 3 from Jill Judd on Vimeo.




market finds


If you’ve been away for the holiday, as you return to your regular shopping routine, you may notice something like this at your local supermarket. Most of our American friends in the US weren’t very excited about a Chinese company buying Smithfield Foods in 2013, but for those of us living on this side, the case above is what that acquisition means to us here in Hohhot: US style bacon and ham readily available at local markets for local prices. The pork is not imported, but is processed by Smithfield and whatever local affiliate they’re partnering with.

Read more about that buy/merger here.

and here.

What do you think? Does the Smithfield label make you more likely to choose this bacon over another? Have you tried any or all of the products yet?

I tagged this in “stuff foreigners like” because of bacon. Am I right?

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)



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