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a Hohhot movie

I haven’t seen it yet, but recently saw this posting on wechat about a film about Hohhot, filmed in Hohhot, and even uses the local dialect as the language for the movie.
You can use a translation program for the details of the page embedded or linked below, but the basic plot is the story of a boy born in Hohhot in the early nineties, the struggles of his family, and the changes his family experiences as China (and Hohhot) change around them. The Chinese title is ba yue (August) and the English title is Summer is Over. 

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If you’ve seen the movie, leave us a comment with your thoughts.

Anda Union getting good press

If you haven’t heard of Anda Union, you should check them out! They are arguably the most internationally famous performers to come out of Inner Mongolia. 

This week they made international news again, being included in this list by the Huffington Post of the best albums of 2016 that the Grammy Awards missed. 

If you want to hear them, both links above have video! 

I haven’t heard this particular album yet, but I’m glad they’re getting some recognition. What do you think? Have you heard the album? Is it Grammy-worthy?

Leave us a comment!

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.

more visa changes

3 days ago I saw this article on Shanghaiist about expected changes to work permits for foreigners. City Weekend posted a similar article the next day, and Guide in China posted their version of the news yesterday.

You can read the articles linked above for details but in general there’s a plan to change the current system for work permits to have “grades” or “classes” or foreigners depending on a number of possible factors such as length of time in China, ability to speak Chinese, where one lives/works, the prestige of the industry/entity one works for, and others. The program will be tried in a few places first then implemented elsewhere.

As you may have guessed, Inner Mongolia isn’t one of the trial locations.

After you’ve read the articles, leave us a comment about your guesses as to what your “grade” will be. 🙂

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)

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.

 

Hohhot was voted #1 city for….

…any guesses?

The best city for growing old. I’m not sure who voted or what factors determined the rating, but you can read the article in Chinese below and see the other top ten cities.

Do you agree? Is Hohhot deserving of this distinction?

I think it’s a place that still holds more traditional values than the big coastal cities, so I can see it getting this vote in that regard, as the young here still feel an obligation to care for elderly relatives. However, I’m surprised considering the climate of Hohhot that Chinese people would think such a cold place is a good place to grow old.

 

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last week of skiing!

Da Qing Shan Tai Wei Ski Slopes will close on March 7th, so hurry out if you haven’t been yet! More information on the link about how to get there.

I know some families going out tomorrow to take the kids ski tubing one last time.

The good news is, if the ski slopes are closing, it means the golf course will be opening soon!

公告

太伟滑雪场本年度雪季结束,将于2016年3月7日全面封场。

What about you? Will you make it out again? Did you make it out at all?

Hohhot’s Subway

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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)

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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