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So I guess I should give a little information about the city I’ll be dwelling in for a year!

Hohhot is the capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. It’s name translates in Mongolian as “Blue City”, which is apparently a reference to the arching blue skies over the grasslands, which are located outside of the city (which I hope to visit soon!). The city was founded by Alton Khan (no, not my dog) in the 16th century, and is bordered by the Daqing Mountains to the north and the Hetao Plateau to the south. The city has a diverse population of 1.14 million people, which is tiny for Chinese standards, with the majority of citizens being Han Chinese, and about 15% being Mongolian. Even though the city is mostly Chinese, there is a rich Mongolian heritage that is really making my experience unique.

I have many thoughts on Hohhot. From my previous entry, you know what my thoughts were when I first got here, but they have changed so much since then! I no longer fear for my life whenever I’m wondering the streets. Instead, I like to take in my surroundings and am constantly looking up, down, side to side, and all around because there is so much to look at! From the early mornings to early evenings, the shops on the streets open up and they sell all kinds of things and in no particular order: from food to oddities to cell phones to haircuts to household items to paintings to clothes to keys to motorcycles to live chickens to more food! There are people everywhere (except late at night!), some dressed very nicely, some in uniforms, some in rags, and some in clothes that have English writing on them which they clearly have no idea what it says (example: a mother was wearing a shirt that says “Lets do shots bitches!” I laughed). I hope to figure out how to upload pictures on this blog so I can show you what I’ve grown very used to seeing in the past 2ish weeks!

I’m definitely still adjusting to the weather! Hohhot is very hot and very dry. My first few days here I had a particularly raspy voice because of the dryness! I also found it harder to breath, if that makes sense. I’m used to it now, but it did take some adjustment! There are sandstorms and windstorms here occasionally, and I feel like I need to dust everything in my apartment every 2 days because it piles up so quickly here! And when it rains, it rains really hard for 5 minutes and then stops, and within 2 hours the puddles have already evaporated! I was sad to find out that it doesn’t rain very often here, because I had brought a sweet rain jacket and my favourite rubber boots! I had researched China and had learned that the summers were usually its monsoon season…and then I learned that it rains everywhere EXCEPT Inner Mongolia and Northern China! Womp womp.

The random *bangs* I heard on my first night here? Fireworks. Which go off very often here. I haven’t seen any yet, but I hear some almost everyday. I want to know what everyone’s celebrating! I’ve gotten used to sounds of all sorts in my short time in China. The banging of fireworks, the coughing and footsteps of the neighbors beside and above my apartment (the walls are pretty thin!), random songs being played outside my window at all times of the day (funny enough, sometimes the songs are in English!), dogs barking, children’s laughter (the horror!), and the hussle and bussle of the busy street not 20 steps from my window! The other day I woke up to the most peculiar combination of sounds: First, a dozen *bangs* of fireworks, followed by a long sccreeeeeeeechhhh of car tires, followed by another BANG! followed by yelling, and ending with me being annoyed that this all took place at 8am!

Just like sounds, I’ve gotten used to all sorts of smells here too. What’s interesting about smells in China is that they change so abruptly within seconds. One second, I’m smelling the most succulent aroma of sweet buns cooked fresh right on the street! But then I walk 2 steps and I smell something that must have died a few days before someone smothered it with relish and left it in a dirty sock. It’s the way that the smells go from one extreme to the next that makes every walk down the street a fragrance buffet.

Unfortunately I haven’t been to any of the tourist destinations around the city just yet. I hope to soon, but we are in the intensive period at work, which means long days and one day off a week, which I like to spend sleeping, doing laundry and grocery shopping. But I promise a full update once I get to see the temples and museums located in Hohhot. Apparently there’s a dinosaur one!! …Don’t judge, you’d want to go too!

So those are my immediate thoughts and senses of Hohhot so far! More information to come!! ❤

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ben Babcock
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 04:41:54

    Is it just me, or does “Alton Khan” sound a lot like “Elton John”?

    I have to admit to a tiny amount of jealousy here. Although I dislike travelling because I prefer the comforts and routines of home, there is a part of me that yearns for the experience of new places, and that part is jealous of the experience you’re having. So thanks for writing. And it sounds great so far.

    What exactly does an “intensive period of work” entail for you?

    Uploading and inserting photos should be as easy as clicking the first icon on the “upload/insert” menu when you’re writing a new post. You can also manage photos from the “Media” section in the sidebar of your control panel.

    If you have an iPhone or Android phone, I believe there are WordPress.com apps. Those should let you upload a photo directly from your phone.

    If you need more help, feel free to ask.

    Reply

  2. Chow
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 06:04:51

    OMG, I just burst out laughing at the t-shirt. Hilarious!
    Sounds like you are adjusting just fine! I hope you are learning some good Chinese…

    Reply

  3. Holly
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 03:27:37

    i hope you have a pic of that t-shirt!

    Reply

  4. My-Tien Nguyen
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 01:16:03

    Fragrance Buffet.

    Reply

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