Sunday, September 13, 2009

China (Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Beijing and Tianjin) - July 2009

Meant to write this post 2 months ago, after I came back from my trip to China (Tianjin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi). However, procrastination was there, and I haven't gotten down to write it till now. So, hopefully, you will get a feel of the trip. Have posted a bunch of those photos in Facebook, so guess, go hunt for it there.

Would share mainly on the Inner Mongolia and Shanxi part, since not many might have made this journey before.

Trip started on the night of 9th July 2009 from LCCT, Sepang taking Air Asia X. It was a smooth flight, and when we touched down and went through the A (H1N1) check, we are in Tianjin city. Our first destination was "Mei Shi Jie", the street with lots of food. It is more like a building with lots of food, but the price was quite high. We had "Gou Bu Li" etc.

After which, we headed over to "Wen Hua Jie", the cultural street. It is more of an older street where people go and shop for costume. We had hawker food too, and it was good and cheap. About RMB 16 altogether for 3 of us, with 4 types of food, a noodle, a char shaw fried rice, a kebab and a turkey meat stick. After which, we took the Bullet Train to Beijing. It was fast and clean, going up to a speed of 320+ km/hr. A 30 minutes journey which cost each of us RMB58.

That evening, 10th July 2009 was the start of our venture to Inner Mongolia. Our train departed at around 7:20pm from Beijing West Station. It was a frenzy trying to locate all the 7 of us (Rachel, Ming Soon, Zcho Yee, Yan Min, Wilson, Chloe and myself) before that, as the train station is literally huge, and they have more than 1 KFC.

We reached Hohhot in Inner Mongolia on the early morning of 11th July 2009. The first impression there was that the road was full with rubbish. It was not as clean, but guess, once we get used to it, it was not too bad. After a breakfast at Mr. Lee, yes, that's the name of the restaurant chain, we headed out.

Instead of describing it chronologically, maybe I'll do destination highlighting.

1. Xilamuren Grassland - What I like about grassland is its nature surrounding, where you can sit down there on the grass and look as far as your eyes go, and you can see where the grassland meets the sky. It was a beautiful sight. Even the scenery from the room was breath-taking. It was a place where we can get peace and relaxation. At night, when light is turned off, it is pitch dark, perhaps with the only exception of the bright round yellow moon. Riding on the horses there was great as well, including tasting the lamb meat. We had a memorable time there, with our "newly-wed" couple, who went through Mongolian wedding. The milk tea there was unique as well.

2. Wu Dang Zhao - This is a temple on our way from Xilamuren Grassland to Xiang Sha Wan passing through Baotou. It was built during Emperor KangXi (1662-1722) and was based on Tashilhunbu Monastery in Tibet. It has quite rich architecture and from the view of the top, it is very nice.

3. XiangShaWan (Resonant Sand Bay) - This is where we get the chance to sit camels and go along the desert. My first experience sitting on camel. On our way there, we got the chance to pass by Yellow River and seeing the industrialization of Baotou.

4. Mausoleum of Genghis Khan - Going to Inner Mongolia and not tracing the root of Genghis Khan, would not make the trip complete. The wikipedia entry (linked above) would give you a good description of the history. The significant thing is the huge statue of the horses that go along with Genghis Khan.

5. Baotou - We had a good time going around Baotou city, including walking around the night market and shop for little souvenirs around there. We even bought a cake and get it delivered to our hotel to celebrate Zcho Yee and Rachel's birthday!

6. Hasuhai Sea - This is on our way from Baotou to Hohhot. It has great scenery, especially on the cable car, where we get to partially go down into the grass. We had the most number of fishes in our lives there too. Our lunch has at least 50 fishes (some big, some small), a real fish meal, and it cost RMB 38 per person, which is very reasonable.

7. Xilituzhao Temple - A great temple in Hohhot, where it has a lot of history, and it was a great visit. We even made a wish each and threw a coin into the Wish Bowl and my coin went in! :)

8. Hohhot - the 99 Street in Hohhot next to Xilituzhao temple was a nice place for us to hang around and walk in the evening, visiting those little shops there. We also walked around the night market towards Inner Mongolia University. It was a long street walk of night market. We also got the chance to visit XinHua Guang Chang, a huge park where there are lots of flower.

9. JiangJun YaShu - This used to be the headquarter of the warriors.

10. Inner Mongolia Museum - This is a very huge museum, with many exhibits hall. The dinosaur exhibits definitely caught our attention, and another one would be that the museum guides are mostly primary school students, who are there to learn to share with tourists. It was fun!

11. YunGang Shi Ku Grottoes - This is a huge area with 53 caves and there are 51,000 Buddha statues. Some are as high as 17 meters, whereas some are as small as 2cm.

12. Datong City - It is a more quiet city, and we went to Hongqi Guang Chang to have a walk and went to the night market. Not as much to see in this city.

13. XuanKong Shi (Hanging Temple) - This is a state of the art, where the temple is hanging on the cliff, and there could be thousands of people standing on top of the wooden platform.

14. Jiulong Bi (Nine Dragon Wall) - This is a huge wall, which has the carving of 9 dragons. And this ends our trip of Inner Mongolia and Shanxi.

After that, in Beijing, we got chance to go Peking Zoo, Quanjude Peking Duck, Bird's Nest Olympics Stadium, Shuilifang Olympics Stadium, WangfuJing, Yi He Yuan (Yi He Garden) and TsingHua University. We also got the chance to visit Wilson's apartment and office.

And our last stop was Tianjin, with just going around He Ping Jie (Peace Street), which is a long shopping street.

It has been a great holiday and would say that it is a good breakaway for me, to have some solid break, and come back afresh. The travelmates have been awesome!

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