Archive for health care/fitness

Hohhot: a city of opportunity?

Last month China Wire re-posted a story from Enterprise Innovation about a study recently done on China’s 2016 cities of opportunity. (You can download the full study at the last link)

Guess what?  Hohhot wasn’t on the list.

But here are the cities that were: “(in order from north to south and from east to west): Harbin, Changchun, Shenyang, Dalian, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Xi’an, Tianjin, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Changsha, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming and Nanning.” from PwC

I feel like that list of cities is a good sample of different kinds and sizes of cities, it just didn’t happen to include our little slice of paradise. (insert the emoticon of your choice here)

And guess what else? No one asked my opinion. But, that’s one reason I have this blog. So, using some of the categories the article mentioned I’m going to rate Hohhot on the same factors. I have no idea how they measured, but I’m going to use a scale of one to ten. One being the lowest and ten being the highest. Here we go.


intellectual capital and innovation: 3

This one I don’t have enough experience to really evaluate well, but I wouldn’t say Hohhot is known for pioneering ideas, great inventions, or cutting edge innovation.
Although I think 20 years ago or something Nei Da was involved with cloning a sheep (details hazy)

important regional cities: 8

It’s definitely the educational and cultural center of Inner Mongolia, but there is arguably more enterprise in Baotou or other nearby cities (Taiyuan, Zhangjiakou, Yinchuan, Ordos,  etc)

technology readiness: 4

This is another category I have no real knowledge in, but I feel like even apps and such are slower to take off here or are being used in other cities but not here.

healthcare, safety and security 3,8, 4 for an average of 5

I won’t give healthcare more than a 3 until there is the ability to wash one’s hands in the bathrooms of our hospitals. Assuming you stay away from dodgy places (and people) Hohhot is safe, but I rated security lower because of theft and the complacency of those in protection roles (security guards, airport/train station baggage scanners, police, etc)

transportation and urban planning 5

The traffic situation deserves a -3 or something, but other transportation factors are improving. (number of flights, diversity of locations of flights, more rail, faster rails, plans for a subway, etc). And if you haven’t been to the City Planning Exhibition Hall, check it out and see what Hohhot has planned.

sustainability and the natural environment 6

This number drops substantially if you go outside the city, but the city itself is above average when compared to other cities its size with pollution, right? Our air is better than most. There’s not much “natural” in the city, but when comparing to other similar Chinese cities, I’d say we’re just above middle ground.

culture and lifestyle    7

I think most reports say that Hohhotians have more expendable income than other cities which gives them points in the lifestyle category. (What? you actually want me to site things?  If I find a link I’ll add it here later).  Although “culture” in the sense of ballet, fine art, and theatre may be lacking there is plenty of culture in the minority arts genre.

economic clout 3

Anything that pairs Hohhot with the word “clout” gets a low rating. For some reason it still has the persona of being “backwards” or underdeveloped. Ordos is making a name for itself in the economic clout category, but I’m trying to keep these ratings focused on Hohhot.

ease of doing business 2,6

2 for the “ease” (I mean hassle) of starting and 6 to continue doing business. Having spent 8 months of the last year in the business registration process, Hohhot should just be happy I didn’t rate that one in the negative, too. Once you get up and going it gets easier, but they don’t make it easy to start.

cost 8

I mentioned this point above, but lower housing prices and decent salaries mean a pretty nice standard of living for the growing middle class. Lower commercial rental rates make business costs lower and I’m assuming taxes are comparable to other similar cities.


The gives us an overall rating of 4.9.


So this is my blog and therefore my ratings. Leave your ratings in the comments. 🙂


Vaccine problems in Inner Mongolia

I wasn’t blogging last week, but I was still on wechat. If you were paying attention to your moments (朋友圈) at all, you were probably inundated with the news of expired/damaged/unsafe vaccines being distributed and given to babies and children in 24 provinces across China, including Inner Mongolia.

If you somehow missed the news, here are a few articles in English about the situation:

Shenzhen Daily

China Daily

Guangdong Emergency Management


And here are some links to the articles that were circulating on wechat (in Chinese)




This one a doctor posted with the title “Be more reasonable about the vaccine situation” so perhaps it’s a little less alarmist

And I think you’ll like this infographic


If you have a child you think may have received an improper vaccine, my understanding from the articles above is that the chart on the articles above is for the contact person for each region where you can call to get information about when and where in your area the improper vaccines were distributed.


Health Screening

If you’re a foreigner here with a residence card as a student or employee, you’ve been to the ONE location in Hohhot where you have to get your annual health screening in order to renew your permit.
I had to go today and quite a bit was different than before. I got there just before 8:30 (opening time) and the front gate is still closed and the front entrance looks like this:

There guard motions me to a small door to the right. There’s  a sign on the door that said to go to Room 401. It’s just a few minutes before 8:30 and there are exactly 0 employees in the building. 4 of us are waiting outside the room but no staff or doctors or anyone was there. And then at 8:30 or a few minutes after, they showed up.

And sure enough, they are giving physicals, they just don’t show up to work one minute before start time.
And, the check in window area is boarded up, so you check in at room 401.





today’s big news

If your wechat moments is anything like mine every other post today is about the air quality in Hohhot today. It’s pretty scary out there, folks.

HH pollution 15-11-29

I have no idea about cause of such unusually high levels of pollution. Ideas, facts, theories, anyone?
Leave us a comment. Until then…wear your masks and keep your air filters running.

Swimming Pools in Hohhot

I haven’t been posting much recently, but I have been responding to the emails receive. The next few posts will be a series of questions I have answered over email, but haven’t yet posted about. Maybe some of the answers will be useful to you

The next question was from a reader wanting information about swimming pools in Hohhot. Below is my reply (with a few additions).

Here are a few “ground rules” about swimming in Hohhot that may be useful to know beforehand.

1. If you read any travel site with hotel reviews from foreigners visiting China, you will see the same complaint over and over and over: the water is too cold. At first I thought maybe I was just being whiny, but when I worked at a local hotel and a guest from Finland complained about the water being cold, I felt a bit more justified. Complaining about the temperature doesn’t help. The staff will tell you that it is kept at the “international standard.” And it might actually be. However I’m sure the “international standard” is the one used for Olympic competitions and such. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not swimming at the intensity Olympic swimmers are, and therefore, the water feels cold to me.

2. You must have proper swimming attire. Perhaps this cultural difference is most starkly contrasted to America, but I’ll include it anyway. Of course this means a swimsuit, but it also means a swim cap and sometimes goggles. Without a cap, you can’t get in. Most of the nicer places have a shop where you can purchase or, get on in advance at any sporting goods store. Male swimmers, be forewarned: I have heard stories of dudes being turned away for wearing swimming trunks. In the minds of Chinese swimming pool workers, appropriate swim wear for men means a speedo and sometimes no manner of convincing them that swim trunks are also swimwear will gain you access. It’s a speedo or no swimming.

3. Lap swimming is chaotic. Look at the traffic situation of our city and apply it to a swimming pool. Lap swimmers swim front to back, side to side, and around the edges in circles all at the same time.

Now, if you can live with the above factors, here are some options about where to go:


The Phoenix Hotel has a small one and it’s often empty. The Inner Mongolia Hotel has a bit bigger one, but it’s a bit more crowded. The Xin Cheng Hotel has a more proper one, but even more crowded. I think the Shangri la does too, but I’ve never seen it personally. I think the Zhao Jun also has a pool. (Another reminder here for foreign guests staying at these hotels: Use of the pool is not included in your room charge. Use of the pool will be an additional cost, unless your company has negotiated an unusual perk in your contract rate).

Housing Developments

I know some new pools have been built recently (in the past 5 or so years) in the fancier housing developments, but not many of them allow outsiders in. (I went one time in the East Shore Development and it was the best pool I’ve been to in HH. It had a lap pool (smaller than standard size) and a pool with a slide and some fountains where kids could play.

I’ve recently (in the past few months) seen many flyers for new housing developments that boast swimming pools. Again, I’m just not sure if non-residents can use them.


Public Pools, Indoor and Outdoor

I’m afraid I don’t have much up-to-date information on these pools. The ones I used to know about have seemingly all disappeared. I think there may still be one just east of the train station (indoor) and another one on the campus of Nei Da (outdoor).

I heard that after the 2008 Olympics they were building more public pools in order to increase swimming participation in order to have a larger selection of high-level swimmers, but I don’t know where they are if they’ve been completed.

Specialty Children’s Pools

In recent months, a few specialty pools have opened for children or toddlers. I know one is on the south second ring road and another somewhere near gu lou. I haven’t been to one yet because the entrance fees are triple or quadruple the regular pools. But don’t worry, they have membership plans that allow free swimming if you invest 50,000 RMB!

That’s all I know. What about our friendly readers? What advice do you have to those wanting to swim? Where is the best pool in Hohhot in your opinion?

health care in Hohhot (and beyond)

I wrote a post last year about getting medical care in Hohhot. (Click link to read it)

Unfortunately, we’ve had to access the Chinese medical system even more since then, so this post is to update some of our thoughts and opinions.

This is what we’ve learned about the medical system in Hohhot. This post just represents our opinion and experience so if you have other suggestions or experiences please leave a comment.

  • It seems to us that very few locals just walk in and see a doctor that they have no prior relationship with. They call friends until they know someone who knows someone who is the kind of doctor they need. You too, should use relationship when possible. Ask a local friend who they know and that will go a long way toward having a better experience.
  • Find out what each hospital specializes in or is known for being good at. For example, we’ve recently learned that the 356 Hospital (Wu Jing Yi Yuan) supposedly has the best doctors and equipment for treating kidney stones using ESWL. And the 253 Hospital is known for good cosmetic surgery. (No, I didn’t have cosmetic surgery, but my daughter did get stitches in her face. 🙁 We were recommended to go there to lessen the chance of a scar). We have found that many times once you get to a doctor, they will generally tell you clearly if you are at the right place or not. If you chose the wrong department, they’ll tell you. If they don’t have the skill to diagnose or treat your condition, they will tell you and refer you to someone/somewhere who can. It is frustrating to have to go to more than one place, but it’s better in the end to get better, more skillful care.
  • In our experience, getting any test (blood work, MRI, CT, etc) is easy and cheap. Getting the proper diagnosis and/or treatment plan is more difficult. (especially if you’re not interested in Chinese or Mongolian medicine) We’ve had good experience with getting the test here then sending the the results to a doctor we trust in Beijing or at home in the US to make a diagnosis or make a treatment plan.
  • Overuse of antibiotics is a big deal. They pass out IV antibiotics before any tests are run, before it’s known if the condition is even caused by a bacteria in the first place. Here are some articles that address this problem’s causes and solutions for improvement better than I could. My simple advice is don’t take them until you are certain they are necessary.,8599,2103733,00.html
  • My basic advice about getting medical attention in Hohhot is this: Avoid it when possible. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and avoid high-risk behaviors. Next, if you must seek medical care, the system here is adequate for routine tests, minor illnesses, or situations that need to be addressed quickly (the stitches in my daughter’s face, for example). For anything else, my advice is to get to Beijing or another large city.

If you are in the situation where you have an issue that needs to be addressed with a greater standard of care, I highly recommend OASIS INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL in Beijing.  Oasis opened in 2012 and they were so great to us when we were there in February. They provide an international level of care in an English-speaking environment, for prices lower than Beijing United in most cases. (And much more willing to work with us on prices than BJU ever was). They’re also been great to let us send results and provide consults via the phone and we’re grateful for the care they’ve given us.

I hope you don’t need to use it, but here is their contact information if you do:

No. 9 Jiuxianqiao Bei Lu
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015 China


Telephone 400 UR OASIS (876 2747)
Office (+86 10) 5985 0361 | Mobile (+86) 138 10700199
24-Hour Emergency Service (+86 10) 5985 0333

More Useful Phone Numbers

And here’s another round of public services numbers you may find useful. Here is the link to the original language post.

顺丰快递                          Shun Feng Express Mail                                           400-811-1111
自来水抢修电话        Tap Water Rush Repair                                            6924113
自来水投诉                       Tap Water Complaints                                             96266
煤气抢修电话         Gas (mei qi) Rush Repair                                         4964434
供电局客服                        Power Supply Bureau Service                                  95598
呼市消费者协会           Hohhot Consumer Association                                 5959315
内蒙古消费者协会       Inner Mongolia Consumer Association                        6956315
内蒙古有线电视服务热线    Inner Mongolia Cable Television Service Hotline          6920337
呼市有线电视服务热线     Hohhot Cable Television Service Hotline                     6931939
物价举报中心         Price Reporting Center                                             12358
工商投诉电话                     Industry and Commerce Complaints                         12315
供热投诉热线                     Public Heating Complaint Hotline                              12319
市长热线                           Office of the Mayor Hotline                                       12345
法律咨询                           Legal Advice                                                           12348
内蒙古妇幼保健院急诊室     Inner Mongolia Maternal and Child Health HospitalEmergency Room                                                                                           6968719
内蒙古医院急诊室          Inner Mongolia Hospital Emergency Room                  4962584
中蒙医院急诊室                 Chinese and Mongolian Medicine Hospital                                      Emergency Room                                                      6929974
内蒙古附院急诊室            Inner Mongolia Medical College Affiliated                                      Hospital Emergency Room                                         6963871
呼市纪委、监察局         Hohhot Commission for Discipline Inspection

and Supervision Bureau                                            4606659

火车票订票                         Train Ticket Reservations and Purchases                    12306
车辆违章查询                      Vehicle Inquiries                                                      12580
配钥匙修开锁                      Locksmith                                                                8945110
婚庆                                 Wedding*                                                                0471-5981776/15848151957
搬家                                  Moving Company                                                     6980900
上下水疏通修理/暖气安装/      Plumbing Repair/Heating Installation/Bathroom

卫生间改造                          Remodeling                                                             13847112251

*I’m not sure if this is a wedding planner or to register a marriage or a wedding banquet location

Ultimate Frisbee 玩极限飞盘!

Beginning March 29th, anyone who is interested in invited to play Ultimate Frisbee on the sports field at Nong Da’s west campus. The event is being organized by the owner of Tyrannus Coffee Shop, John.

Here’s the information:

Saturdays, beginning March 29th
3:30-5:00 pm
Nong Da West Campus Sports Field



周六下午3:30-5:00 (从3月29日开始)



Some of My Dreams for Hohhot

For most families that I know or hear about, there are two predominant reasons they leave China for their home country: education and health care.

The October edition of the Beijinger included an article about a family that returned to the UK after their son spent just a bit of time in a public school in Beijing. I have known at least three (although I’m sure there are more) families who have had to leave Hohhot because there weren’t suitable education opportunities for their families.

The thing is, most of my local friends complain about their educational options as well. They don’t like the amount of time their kids are in class and they don’t like how much homework their kids have. But, they feel stuck because they feel their child won’t succeed unless they make good grades in the system as it is.

I think the other big reason people leave is because someone in their family needs some kind of health care beyond what the hospitals here can provide. We decided to return to the States to have our second child because we prefer the midwifery model of care for childbirth and that option isn’t available here. We also recently had to make a somewhat emergent trip to Beijing to get medical attention for my husband. We chose an international hospital there because we had already ran the gamut of local hospitals here trying to find a solution.

Most of my local friends also seem frustrated about the local system, especially the overuse of IV antibiotics. They wish there was an alternative when their children are sick, but don’t know of any other way to get medical care without accessing the only system that’s available locally.

With those words of introduction, my dreams for Hohhot are: a different model for health care and a different model for education.

I don’t have the answer to most of the non-ideal situations in Hohhot. I also have been here long enough to understand some of the complexities behind those issues and I understand that there is no simple solution. I offer my suggestions as my personal dreams for simple changes. They are not the solution. They may not even be a solution. They are simply some of my dreams.

In regards to education, if we were back home in Oklahoma, we would either home school or send our girls to a school that’s referred to as a “blended model” which is two days of classroom instruction at a school with supplemental home school curriculum for the remaining three days of the week. I think this kind of set up would be ideal here. Our kids (I mean kids of expats) need friends. But, I think most expats who have put their kids in the Chinese public school system have experienced many obstacles and much frustration along the way. I personally don’t think there’s a large enough community here yet to support a traditional model international school, but I think there are already families who are homeschooling and the blended model would complement what they are already doing and would allow for some Chinese families looking for an alternative to participate.

As far as health care is concerned, I think very, very simple changes would go a long way. Instead of spending big money on more equipment and new buildings, I think the overall health of Hohhot’s residents would be improved by implementing very simple changes. I personally think a simple change of providing hand soap in the bathrooms and improving basic sanitation in the hospitals would go a long way. I know the doctors are severely overworked, but allowing the doctors more time with patients to make an accurate diagnosis would improve the standard of care for everyone. I, personally, would love to see midwives practicing which I hope would lead to improved maternal-fetal care and ideally lower the incidences of C-section rates, which is now at about 50% (and I’ve heard 60% in some urban areas of China). source 1 source 2

I’m not an educator or a medical professional. I’m just sharing my opinions about my dreams for Hohhot. What are yours? What would you like to improve in our fine city? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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