Archive for Hohhot geography

Bei Shan Park

Another cool (new to me) place I found was Bei Shan Park. North Mountain Park? I’m going with pin yin instead of English translation. 

I saw this park on the map, but had never heard of it or been there, so we went as a family today to check it out. Here’s the name and address if you want to check it out too. 

呼和浩特北山公园

北二环与万通路十字路口西南角

It was just a typical Chinese park in the sense of concrete paths to walk on with grassy areas you can’t walk on. No playground or attractions, but lots of scenic areas and statues to take pictures with.

It’s also newly constructed (I can’t find an exact date, but it seems it was finished at end of 2016) and on the northeast edge of town, so it’s not very crowded (or at least it wasn’t on a beautiful Saturday in May). 

Other good points: lots of public bathrooms, well-kept (or at least new enough that nothing is falling apart yet), and good views.

The main gate. Faces east, just south of the North Second Ring Road on Wan Tong Road.

The main gate. Faces east, just south of the North Second Ring Road on Wan Tong Road.

If you enter at this gate, there’s a bit of a hike up the hill/mountain. It’s nothing. Unless you have to carry the stroller and a 25 pound kid up there. Instead of going up the hill first, if you turn back toward the gate, there are stairs where you can climb to the top of the wall that makes the gate.

Both gates face east, the one is a little farther south than the main gate. Take this gate if you are pushing a stroller or carrying stuff. This gate can be identified by the fact that the gate itself is a giant abacus.

Both gates face east, the one is a little farther south than the main gate. Take this gate if you are pushing a stroller or carrying stuff. This gate can be identified by the fact that the gate itself is a giant abacus.

The park trail/road simply goes up the hill, makes a loop around a circular area at the top, and back down.

large plaza at the top

large plaza at the top

another view of the plaza at the top

another view of the plaza at the top

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scenes from the park

scenes from the park

The park overlooks a church and a water park.

The park overlooks a church and a water park.

The park overlooks a church and a water park.

The park overlooks a church and a water park.

My over-all recommendations for the park is that it sort of feels like you’re getting out of the city, even though you’re not. If you’re a runner, I feel like it would be a great place to run. My best guess is that the loop is about a mile (1.6 km) with really good inclines. (I did not actual measuring, just guessing!)

Have you been there already? What were your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

Tibetan Restaurant

Hohhot has been good to me the last two days. (last week, not so much!) I’ve had good experiences at new places and hope you’ll enjoy these places too!

 I’ll break them in to separate posts so they’re easier to search.

The subject of today’s post:

Zhuo Ma Tibetan Restaurant

卓玛臧餐吧

成吉思汗大街阳光诺卡商业街西侧107号

 

I’ve passed this restaurant multiple times when I’m in the vacinity but never had an opportunity to try it until Friday. I think part of my hesitation about not going before was also not wanting to be disappointed. My very first trip to China was spent in Tibetan areas and I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Years ago there was another Tibetan restaurant near the square but it was disappointing not only in service, availability of menu items, but also in that it was owned and staffed by Mongolians. I like Mongolians too, but one would hope Tibetans would run a better Tibetan restaurant than Mongolians. 

Anyway, the place above was fantastic. It’s decor makes you feel like you’ve left Hohhot for Amdo lands. The staff, cooks, owners are Amdo Tibetan, and the food was delicious. 

We ordered three dishes. All were so good. 

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The left is some kind of bing 饼 with sweet cream/cheese like filling. The middle dish is called “Nepal Tofu” and the sauce was sort of like an Indian curry sauce. The dish on the right…..that, my friends, is a very close substitute for a chile relleno. It’s green chile peppers stuffed with seasoned yak meat and smothered in a tasty sauce. Pretend it’s enchilada sauce and your taste buds can be back in the southwest United States 🙂

They also have more traditional, standard Tibetan cuisine like tsampa and milk tea but we wanted to try some of the more unique dishes. 

I didn’t get pictures of the menu or the place itself, but below is the business card so you can stop in yourself.

 webwxgetmsgimg (77) Tibetan restaurant in Hohhot

The address is on the business card and written in Chinese above. It’s north of gong da, south of Genghis Khan Road, and east of Zhe Li Mu Road. 

Hohhot songs

Well friends, if you’ve wanted to increase your repertoire of songs to sing at Chinese banquets or KTV that will make your local friends swoon, this is one to try out! The post below is dated yesterday and there’s a song embedded in the wechat link. You can scroll down to read the lyrics (Chinese only) as it plays.

I’ll be honest, I don’t love the guy’s voice, and the song, while nostalgic, takes “cheesy” to a whole other level. That said, it mentions all the classic Hohhot icons and it would still win you friends to learn it 🙂

There are some great photos in the post, worth a scroll through even if you don’t listen to the whole song.

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If the page doesn’t display correctly try this link.

If you’re interested in another Hohhot song, you can look up “Hohhot Night” 呼和浩特的夜晚. It’s available on xiaomi music and I’m assuming any Chinese music player app. I haven’t found the song above on player apps yet.

Also, after listening to both songs it seems there a list of things that must be included when writing a song about Hohhot. Here are some of them.

  • drinking alcohol
  • the grasslands
  • chi le chuan
  • the sky
  • evenings
  • romance (even better if it didn’t quite pan out)
  • ding xiang (lilac trees)
  • zhong shan lu, xin hua square, or other famous location
  • bei zi, hot pot, or other famous food. 

What else needs to be included to write a hit song about Hohhot? Leave your suggestions in the comments. Bonus points if you actually write song lyrics and leave them for us!

Inner Mongolia Museum

We have guests visiting us for a couple weeks (hence the lack of posts). We took them to visit the museum yesterday which made me realize I hadn’t dedicated a post to it before.

 

The museum used to be located in the building with the white horse on top in the center of the city.

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In 2007 or 2008 it opened in its current location. (map below) It’s across the street from Wanda 万达.

mseum map

It is closed on Mondays. Tickets are free but you have to stop at the ticket window on the south side of the building before entering through the main doors. And as of yesterday, they had a notice posted that foreign visitors have to present their ID to enter.

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The museum is truly well done, although the English signage is not always great.
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The third floor has three main rooms: one for the ancient peoples who pre-date Mongolians, one for Mongolians, and one for the other minorities in Inner Mongolia.
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Mongolian wrestling outfit

The second floor has exhibits about China’s space program. On both the second and third floors on the north end is the dinosaur and other fossil display. The dinosaurs move and roar and have a light show (kids will love it) but only the official tour guides can turn it on, so get in line behind a tour group if you’d like to see it.

Speaking of kids, there’s a cool room on the south end of the third floor with hands on activities for the kids. Pictures of the kids room are below.

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You can learn about more about the museum by following the wechat account nmgbwysjb.

Have you been to the museum? What do you like best? Leave us a comment.

 

changes in Hohhot, 1991-2015

I found this post in my drafts today from way back in August that never got posted….mind you, I was having a baby then so please give some grace.

It’s in Chinese, but if you can’t fully read it, you can see the history of changes in Hohhot just by looking at the pictures and seeing the dates.

If it doesn’t display correctly, try this link.
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What would you say the biggest change in Hohhot has been since 1991? since you arrived here? Leave us a comment.

Friday’s foreigner: Preston

After a couple weeks off, we’re back with our Friday’s foreigner series. This week, meet Preston!

**I’m editing this post to include a link to the guest post Preston submitted for us some time back about buying a car in Hohhot.**

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

My name is Preston Decker, and I’m from the Greater Boston area in the USA. I’m here in Hohhot because my wife is a Hohohotite, or Hohhotian, or Hohhotanese, or whatever you call someone from Hohhot. We came back here together in 2014 after working in Xiamen the two years previous to that.

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

When Linda (my wife) and I first came here, I had just stopped teaching English at a high school in Xiamen, and was preparing to set up a translation service in the States (I already had several years of translation experience at the time). The translation service is going strong, and so I now have a translation business in the States. We’re only in China for a few months a year at most, so I don’t need to look for a job in Hohhot when we’re back.

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

I’ve been studying the Uyghur language for the last four years, which I became interested in during my year of teaching English in Xinjiang. Progress has been very slow, but that’s my main personal project at the moment. Other than that, exercise, preferably off in the Da Qing Mountains, or up on the plateau, but most often at the gym at Hailiang.
You’re recently returned to Hohhot after some time away. What, if any, differences or changes did you observe upon your return?

The Second Ring Road! My wife’s family’s home is right next to the south Second Ring Road (南二环). Last year this whole area was an absolute hellhole (sorry for the language, but it’s true), with tons of dust spewing into the air from construction, and roads that looked like they came right out of a Texas horror movie (potholes galore). We left to go back to America in June 2015, and just got back here a month ago—what a difference! The second ring road is beautiful, and we’ve saved hours already off our driving times (I have a driver’s license and my wife and I bought a car here two years ago). It used to take me over an hour to fight through city traffic up to the Da Qing Mountains to go hiking, but it now takes only 25 minutes via the Second Ring Road. Only 20 minutes to get to Jinchuan, whereas it used to be 45. 15 minutes to my wife’s driving school, down from 30. Good job by Hohhot on this one!

You’ve also lived in other parts of China, what comparisons and contrasts can you make about Hohhot in relation to other places?

I’ve lived in Tianjin, Beijing, Xiamen and Kuitun (Xinjiang). The easiest comparison is with Xinjiang, especially in terms of the terrain and cuisine—lots of open space and mutton. I still contend that there’s no better place in the world than Xinjiang because of its wonderful mix of deserts, alpine forests, grasslands, history and culture, but Inner Mongolia comes in a pretty close second of the places I’ve lived.

All of the cities I’ve lived in Northern China (Beijing, Hohhot, Kuitun) have been pretty bad in winter in terms of pollution, and Xiamen definitely comes out a cut ahead in that regard, although I’ve heard things are getting a bit worse there too.

Hohhot is definitely the most free-wheeling of these cities. I’m pretty sure some of the more gentle inhabitants of Xiamen would go running back home if asked to take an e-bike out into Hohhot traffic. I’d also say, oddly enough, that people in Hohhot are more parochial and conservative in their attitudes towards outsiders (and foreigners), even if they’re more boisterous with friends and relatives.

Surprisingly enough, Xinjiang has the most easily understandable Mandarin of these four cities. I think it’s because the Han people there mostly move out there in scattered groups, or as part of more diverse movements (the bingtuan 兵团, etc.) ,and so were forced to drop their local accents in favor of one with which they could communicate with each other more easily. Beijing has that great hamburger gurgle, while Xiamen residents struggle between being made fun of for their Mandarin (fu instead of hu, etc.) and trying to maintain their local language which is in danger of dying out. Xiamen Minnanhua really is a completely different language from Mandarin—I’ll never forget going to a church there filled with old Minnanhua speakers and listening to an interpreter translate the priest’s Mandarin into Minnanhua sentence by sentence.

What’s surprised me is how different the Mandarin accent is here: even after 15 years of Chinese study and 5 years in China, I still struggle to pick up Hohhot’s local Cidihua accent, especially when spoken by my wife’s family who live up near Bailingmiao (百灵庙)。

Favorite local food and where you like to get it:

Definitely Shao Mai and mutton of all kinds.

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

How about a road that runs a circuit around the city at 80 km per hour and has no traffic lights? Oh wait…

Jokes aside, probably better trash collection. We live in the old part of the city, about a mile and a half south of Dazhao temple, and while it’s fun to wash the local dogs play amidst 10 feet high piles of trash, it would be nice to see those piles get cut down in size a bit.

If you had a friend visiting and could take them to only one place in Hohhot, where would it be?

The Da Qing Mountains or anywhere on the Inner Mongolia Plateau. I really like the country near Xilinhot, though that’s a long car trip away.

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

Last year I developed a bit of an obsession for a little place on the Mongolian border north of Bailingmiao called Mandula (满都拉). It’s a secondary border crossing with Mongolia, only open during certain periods of the year, and I had the fantastic idea that it would be fun to go up there for a visit. So I drove up there last June. It was a beautiful drive, and I drove up past Zhaohe, before continuing through Bailingmiao and heading off towards Mandula.

Mandula is about 120 km past Bailingmiao (which itself is about 150km from Hohhot). There were no signs to warn away foreigners (I had been worried about that), and the country was beautiful, with alternating grasslands and hills. I even saw a couple of herds of camels.

I got up to Mandula and found it to be a one road town with a few earth houses and shops hugging the road. A cow lounged in the street. The border crossing had just closed two days before, and so the town was nearly deserted, although there was plenty of foreign goods (and I’m sure fake foreign goods as well) like alcohol and chocolate in the few stores that were open. If you’ve been to Erlian, you know the type, as all these goods come over the border from Mongolia.

I was having a grand time walking up and down the street, when a soldier in army fatigues spotted me and came over. He was clearly suspicious, and quickly called in his superior officer, who took me back to the base. They kept me there for four hours, questioning me about why I would ever come alone to see a place as remote as Mandula.

In fairness to them, the soldiers were quite nice and polite, and all border areas in China are rather sensitive, but it was still a nerve-wracking experience. As it turned out, part of the reason it took them so long to let me go is that none of their superior officers wanted to take responsibility for my situation, meaning my case got passed up a long line of officers, and then, as one of the soldiers said “we’ll have to wait a long time for the final decision to get passed back down that line.”

Luckily, the final decision was to let me go, which is why it’s a funny, not alarming, story.

So I guess the moral of the story is that although the surrounding area is beautiful, and although there’s no sign prohibiting a foreigner from driving a car up there, it’s probably best to stay away from Mandula.

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

Marrying me!

 

 

Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area

All you need to know about the 2015-2016 Ski Season is right here!

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This could be you!

The slopes at Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area open on November 28th!

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map of the slopes

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Skiing at Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area

Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Area is located north of Hohhot on highway S101. See this map:

map to tai wei

the green area near the arrow is the ski and golf resort

 

Here is the price list for the 2015-2016 season:

Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski and Golf Resort Skiing Prices

If the image doesn’t display correctly, use this link: Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski and Golf Resort Skiing Prices

 

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snow sledding

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skiing

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ski lift

 

 

You can follow the public account on wechat for information about skiing at wechat ID: twhxjlb and for information about their other activities at wechat ID: nmgtw_djc.

 

If you need service in English, contact Sanny at 13674814130.

 

Get a group of your friends together and make some cool memories!

 

TO GET THERE:

Shuttle service is provided from Inner Mongolia Exhibition Center to Tai Wei at 9:30 am, 11:30 am, and 3:00 pm.
Shuttle service is provided from Tai Wei to Inner Mongolia Exhibition Center at 10:30 am, 2:00 pm, and 5:30 pm.

 

Inner Mongolia Exhibition Center is located on the south side of Xinhua Road, east of City Mall (Mo Er Cheng)

 

*photos are property of Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Golf and Skiing Marketing Department, used with permission

 

 

Hohhot’s Gong An Ju

We have a new daughter, which is a joy…getting all her documents (passports, foreign birth abroad, visa, etc) is not exactly a joy.
But, when we had to go to the PSB this week to apply for her visa, I realized I hadn’t posted the information about Hohhot’s Gong An Ju. Here it is.

The Gong An Ju or PSB is where all foreigners have to go to apply for visas or residence permits.

It’s located on the corner of Chi Le Chuan Da Jie and Tong Fei Lu. Here’s a map:
gong an ju

Here are three phone numbers you can try to ask questions related to your visa. Out attempts to get answers to questions usually result in an answer of “I don’t know” but we were at least able to call ahead and ask if our daughter’s visa was ready to be picked up.

6690107
6699694
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A few random thoughts from our experiences there:
This time our paperwork was almost rejected because we used a ball point pen. We’ve actually had to re-do paperwork at the bank for the same reason so we should have known, but just a heads up that they prefer gel pens or other non-ball point types. Also, always use black ink.

You can’t bring your own photo, you have to get one taken there.

For the photos, you have to pay cash. For the visa or residence card fee, only a card is allowed: no cash.

And there’s this situation that cracks me up:
IMG_20150917_102119This photo is terrible, but this is the street in front of the station. It has about six lanes, but 3 of them, plus the bike lane and the sidewalk were being used as parking. The station itself has a giant parking lot, but the gate is closed and their are some serious guards whose job it is not to let cars in. So, three lanes of traffic become the parking lot. I’m not sure what you do if you’re the car in the middle. Oh, Hohhot traffic!

going on now

The International Exhibition Center is currently hosting the Autumn and Winter Clothing Apparel Direct Selling Exhibition. The event began on the 12th and will continue through the 23rd.

The advertisement says clothing is being sold at 80% off. If you’re in the market for new clothes, sounds like you can get some great deals. Or, buy some things and sell them out of the back of your mian bao che or set up an area along the sidewalk 🙂

Here’s a map of where the Exhibition Center is.

international exhibition center

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