CNN recently published this article about the ten things China does best. I thought it was a very fair and accurate list. For your reading pleasure, James and I quickly brainstormed the ten things we think Hohhot does best.
What Hohhot Does Best:
1. Mutton. I mean, this is the grasslands, right? This isn’t something we frequently ate back home, but I don’t think you can live here too long without it becoming an endearing part of the cuisine.
2. Bad English. For a provincial capital, it’s my humble opinion that our English rendering of public signs and such is still far enough from accurate to give us our daily chuckle. I think other cities across China are becoming more international and losing this humorous aspect to their day.
3. Cold Weather. Has anything in Hohhot ever shut down due to snow or bad weather? I can’t remember anything. I can however, remember a time (2002, I believe) that the official temperature was reported as -29 for a number of days so that they wouldn’t have to close schools and offices. (I hear at -30 schools should close). I can also remember numerous time boasting the coldest temps in China. brrrr.
4. Taxi Sharing. This wasn’t a thing ten years ago, but I’m quite impressed at the drivers’ ability to know so quickly what locations are generally in the same direction as their current passenger and to make the snap decision to pick up a second (or third) fare or not. And passengers generally seem to be cordial enough to one another when sharing.
5. Hospitality. If you don’t have your own collection of blue scarves (hadas) yet, you haven’t been properly welcomed. If you haven’t left every social gathering stuffed until you feel sick, well, them my experience has been vastly different than yours.
6. Local Food. We may not have the best selection of Western food, but when it comes to local food, we have a wide variety of deliciousness to choose from. And, as far as “local specialties” go, we could be doing a lot worse than hot pot and mutton. We all have friends in other places in China that have to endure way more gastric torture than we do, yes?
7. Traffic Jams. I think the following picture, courtesy of a local friend’s wechat account, says enough.
8. Bike Theft. They really are genius, right? And not just bicycles, but has anyone held on to an electric bike and its original battery for any length of time. I’m always amazed at the boldness of the thieves in both their choosing of the location of what the thefts occur as well as their tenacity to somehow get through all the locks we use!
9. Museums. The museums truly are great, and getting better. And I don’t just mean the provincial level ones, either. Even small counties are building more museums with truly interesting displays. The English is still terrible, but the displays themselves are great.
10. Arts/Mongolian Culture. Sure other big cities may have a more lively band/music scene for foreigners, but here there are still plenty of locals performing for locals. Traditional Mongolian singers, instrumentalists and dancers can be found at many restaurants and every tourist trap across the province. Local bars also have a lively music scene.
Tell us in the comments what you would add or what items you disagree with.
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