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Inner Mongolia, Part 1

These are only a few of the pictures from the trip. You can see the rest here.

After work on Sunday, we packed 5 days worth of clothes and books into my backpack, and tried (unsuccessfully) to get a good night’s sleep. The next morning, we went to the bus station, and we found this

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The 1-5 of October are one of the two biggest travel seasons of the Chinese year. It’s National Day, the equivalent of the 4th of July in the USA. The bus stations were packed.

We successfully waded through the crowd, and got on our bus to Wuxi, about an hour away, where we would catch the train north. The trip ended up taking about 2 hrs: 1 to get to Wuxi, and 1 to get through the insane traffic to the bus station. Luckily, we had a few hours before our train.

The trains in China are a remarkably effective system of moving massive numbers of people. When you have your ticket in hand, you go to the waiting room and find the line for your train. About 15 minutes before your train arrives, they open the gate at the front of the line and people start to go through. Then follow the clear signs down the corridor until you go down a flight of stairs and you’re standing on the train platform. Then you are herded into orderly lines by a small army of conductors, one line per car. As soon as the train pulls in and folks have gotten off, you’re quickly ushered into the appropriate car. It is so much more efficient than the airlines in America it’s not even funny.

In the theoretically class-free China, there’s no such thing as “first class” or “economy class”. They have been euphemistically replaced with soft sleeper, hard sleeper, soft seat, and hard seat. We had tickets for hard sleepers, but we didn’t really know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they were softer than our beds at home, and long enough for me to stretch out. There were 3 bunks stacked vertically, with enough space above the bottom bunk to sit upright. Quite comfortable, really.

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A cart came by every half hour or so, loaded with all sorts of snacks and drinks for sale. They also came by with hot meals 3 times a day. We bought some munchies and drinks, but none of the meals looked particularly appealing.

We headed north, stopping at a station about every 90 minutes. We slept through the night, and arrived at Beijing the next morning.
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From Beijing, we headed west towards Inner Mongolia. This was the most scenic part of the trip, as it went through the mountains.

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Along the way, we saw a bit of the Great Wall in the distance!

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On the night of the 2nd, we pulled into the Hohhot train station. We got in a taxi and went to our hotel. They didn’t have any of the rooms we’d reserved, so they put us in an executive suite for the night.

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Looking out the window, we got our first real look at Hohhot.

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After we settled in, we went for a brief walk around the area near the hotel. Our first impressions were that Hohhot was a bigger, older, dirtier city than Zhangjiagang, but it had many more interesting things happening.

Part 2

{ 1 } Comments

  1. barbie | October 7, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    awesome! I look forward to reading more of the narrative!! :D

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