Archive for kids in Hohhot

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!

Toys R Us

If you’ve been to City Mall (Mo Er Cheng) recently you might have seen the “Toys R Us coming soon” display. I’m always curious when a new foreign/international brand comes to Hohhot. Although I love life here, it’s not like we’re known as being a test-market for foreign brands entering the Chinese market. Also, in a country that has pulled off fake city governments, fake Bank of China, these fakes, and where 40% of online commerce deals in fakes, I’m not eager to believe it’s real.

Hohhot itself has had its share of fakes in the past. I know of at least one fake Starbucks location (two if the one down by Madison Patio ever opened up). Hohhot had a fake Ikea in 2002/2003. Last week or so there was also an advertisement in one of the Hohhot expat groups on wechat for a teacher at a Waldorf School. Again, I could be wrong, but my best guess is that if you ask the Waldorf School accrediting agency (or whatever their formal alliance is) if they have a school in Hohhot……I think they’re going to say no. The ad also mentioned the need to contact the principal, which isn’t how Waldorf Schools work. And I’m veering away from the topic of this post now, but their foundation of religious principles, lack of testing, and emphasis on social transformation don’t seem like ideas that would be well-received here. Which is again why my best guess is that it is not a true Waldorf School.

Anyway, because I’m such a phenomenal journalist (please laugh) I’m trying to get the true story: I wrote an email to the Toys R Us corporate office to ask if our newly arriving Toy R Us is legit.

I need you to vote in the comments with your guess:

  1. They won’t even write back.
  2. They’ll write back that we are indeed being graced with the presence of Toys R Us.
  3. They’ll write back that it’s as fake as all the other things linked to above.

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.

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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.

 

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)

Vaccines

BeiFang

TianTianKuaiBao

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.

 

Friday’s foreigner: Fabio

Well, another week has come and gone. That means it’s time for our next edition of Friday’s foreigner. A few weeks ago you met Pedro. This week, meet his coworker and fellow countryman, Fabio.

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 Fábio Castro, I’m from Portugal and I arrived in Hohhot on the 19th of October to work as football coach for the Luís Figo Football Academy. For those who don’t know him, Figo is a famous ex-football player from Portugal and won the “Ballon d’Or” in 2000 and was considered the best player in the world by the FIFA in 2001.

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

When I arrived in China I passed one month working in Beijing for the same academy, we have centers in different cities of the country.

 

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

I played as a amateur level football player and soon I realized I would like to become a football coach. Because of that, I decided to go to the university to prepare myself for this role. I made my graduation in Sport, one master degree in Physical Education and another one in High Performance Training, with football option. Besides that, I made my coach’s licenses to be able to work.

Until now, I worked with all the age groups and I had a short experience working in India. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

 

Share with us some of the moments you were proudest of your students/players.

I don’t have specific moments, what I have are many memories from all the places I worked, the words from some of my players, special moments that only the football can give us. Those who have had the experience to share time with a team can understand my words.

 

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

I like to do different things during my free time, however, once I still don’t know very well the city I’m going to the cinema, I’m eating at some occidental/Asiatic restaurants, exploring the city, meeting some cultural places and I’m going to the gym.

 

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

As I told, before come to China I worked in India. Before India, I was working in Portugal as Physical Education Teacher and as football coach.

 

Favorite local food and where you like to get it:

As local food, I tried the lamb and I really have to admit that the leg is good. Besides that, I like to try different kinds of food as the noodles, the barbecue, the hot pot, the dumplings… I also ate Japanese food here and was really good too. The names of the restaurants I don’t know them and I like to try different ones.

 

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

I would like that the Chinese could respect more the traffic rules and especially the places for the bikes, once I drive one electric bike and most of the times the cars don’t care about anything. But what I really would like to have here it was a beach, even if it was artificial! I like to walk near of the beach and relax at some bar in there too. I’m missing that from my country!

 

What has been the most surprising aspect of life here?

I knew a little bit about the Chinese culture and their traditions, however I wasn’t expecting as much cold as I felt here. I never passed by situations with these temperatures in my life and getting used to that was surprising for me.

 

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

One day I was on the taxi and I saw one person burn some money on the streets. After some time, I understood that wasn’t just one person but many people doing that and I asked what meant and the reason for many people have done small fires in the streets. The answer was that they were sending money for the dead people, usually for family and the money was fake. I never saw something like that…

 

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

If the person knows another cities of China I would say to be prepared for a more quiet place and consequently, maybe a quiet routine too. And of course I would advise to bring warm clothes!!

 

Where do you go to “escape?”

Once I’m here for four months and once the weather is cold, I didn’t find yet that place. If I had a beach, definitely I would go there. As I don’t have I will try to find it for sure and until there, a ride on my bike with good weather should be good and enough for me.

 

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

Certainly memoirs, new experiences, funny moments and once that I will start to learn Chinese language I want take that with me.

 

You can connect with Fabio in any of the following ways:

Email: castro.fabio5@gmail.com

LinkedIn: pt.linkedin.com/in/castrofabio5

WeChat: fabiocastro5

 

If you’re interested in more information about Winning League Football Academy call 13171090089 or 13304712425.

The Little Gym

For the families with kids, we’ve discovered a great place for our girls to burn off some energy and learn some basic gymnastics skills!

The Little Gym is an American franchise with a branch here in Hohhot. Staff are trained by their international program and are truly really great with kids.

There’s also a waiting room with activities and books for kids not participating in a class.

Classes are available for toddlers through age 12.

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actual gymnastics equipment!
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The address in Chinese is below. It’s located just west of the gong an ju.
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Follow the Little Gym on wechat by scanning the QR code below:
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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.

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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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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)

 

 

Friday’s foreigner: Anastasiya

Today is our fourth post in a series I hope we’ll do most Fridays.

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

See our other interviews here. 

 

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Anastasiya.

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

My name is Anastasiya. I’m from Donetsk, Ukraine and arrived in Hohhot in October 2014. My desire to keep working as a dance teacher brought me here. Whereas in my home, the situation was very tense and critical and I received a proposition to come to Hohhot to teach ballet. My parents were insisting I accept this position and leave home for some time and knowing the positive experience of my ballet teachers who used to work in China I decided to try.

 

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

Sometimes it feels like every little step forward is already success. Teaching without language knowledge is quiet challenging. But even though most of my ballerinas are completely beginners we were able to get 5th place in our first competition in August 2015. And 2nd place in a recent competition in December 2015.

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Share with us some of the moments you were proudest of your students

Honestly I am proud of every student in my groups and grateful to the parents who trust me to educate their kids. My students are very different and aged from 4 to over 50 years old. All of them have big desires to learn from me, but also understand me despite language difficulties. I have to admit working with them is one of my best experiences of being here. I have girls who come to my classes since I just arrived. Seeing them growing and changing physically under ballet training during this time is my inspiration.
I am proud of them every lesson when they learn something new or after a few attempts when they could do movements that they couldn’t at the beginning, I am proud of them when they trying new costumes, perform, smile and I can see signs of happiness on their faces. And I am especially grateful to them and their attentive work when I have to lead classes without voice (this winter I lost it almost twice because of catching cold).

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

I like doing morning stretching or yoga, reading, shopping, meeting with friends and going to theater.

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

I read your blog, Jill;) so, I would be agree with Agnes: please plant more trees!!! It will look completely different with more green around. And I would add signs in English for public transport maybe. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get around without knowing Chinese, especially at the beginning and therefore city doesn’t look friendly to foreigners in my opinion.

What has been the most surprising aspect of life here?
Well, there are quiet few things coming to my mind. But first price will win Chinese siesta with people sleeping even on the ground and this very special underpants/trousers with hole between legs for small kids. Never seen anything like that anywhere else!

What is the kindest thing a local has ever done for you?
There are so many incidents of my friends from Hohhot helping me that it’s very difficult to point to only one. I can’t imagine my life here without their help and definitely I couldn’t stay here for so long without their support.
Where do you go to “escape?”

I love traveling and feel like an obligation to discover China and Chinese culture while I’m here. I’m escaping to other cities and every trip makes the picture of China more colorful for me. And of course I escape back home to get love and energy from my family.

When your time here is done and you return home, what do you want to take with you?
I would love to take my students with me…but because I am realist and know is not possible I would take my best memories about work with them and my experience from teaching them.

 

If anyone is interested in learning ballet from Anastasiya, you can contact Ulanova International Children’s Art Education Center at 04712356611.

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