If someone tells you about Mongolia you immediately think about Dschingis Khat, wide grasslands and strolling nomads.
At my arrival in Hohhot far and near there wasn’t any horse at all – instead of white grasslands just more skyscrapers. Did I board the wrong train? But that’s nearly impossible in China.
Not at all – Dschingis Khan reunited the Mongoles and became the emperor a a big empire reaching from Vietnam to Hungary. By the end of the 14st century this imperium split up and the Chinese acquired a major part of the area. The country was divided into Inner Mongolia – an autonomous Chinese administrative region – and Outer Mongolia – what we normally mean by saying Mongolia.
As the capital of Inner Mongolia Hohhot supports the massive Chinese progression by the mining of coal and rare earths. For this reason you can hardly see any grassland in this area. If you want to come closer to your original idea of Mongolia you have to take a two hours bus ride out of the city where meanwhile numerous yurt villages are catering for Chinese tourist busses.
Thanks to a lovely former colleague I could avoid the mass tourism programme and spend an afternoon with a tradition Mongolian family. My highlight was for sure the one hour lasting horse riding in the grasslands – complete silence – just the strong wind and our little group of riders. It’s actually pretty difficult to imagine how hard life conditions must be in winter times – at minus 30 degrees.
One more time I was surprised about the support and the friendliness of people in Hohhot. Someone helped me to get a taxi to my hotel, an other person did the translation at the restaurant for me. Waiters are using translation apps to communicate with me – obviously this is a completely other face of China.