Back in China
Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
27Trip End Ongoing
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There I am in Mongolia, I know a handful of people and lo and behold, on the train to the border I actually ran into someone whom I knew. It was the bloke that spoke Chinese on the border when we arrived. Rather cool actually to run into him again and shake hands and say hello...
China and Mongolia have different guage railways so it's rare that the train actually goes all the way to China. When it does you have to wait about an hour while they jack up the carriages and change the wheels. So we just had a train to the border then we had the usual jeep across to the other side... Why it has to be a jeep... who knows?
The throngs of people were overwhelming...
Anyway, we took about the first jeep we saw but we should have realised that just as they wanted to jam someone else in on the way over, they did going back too and so we had to wait for ages while the driver found an extra passenger.
We had plenty of time to contemplate the state of the jeep.
And to get a photo from outside too. It doesn't look so bad here.
A familiar sight... Sally and her morin-khor...
By the time the driver found his extra fare it put us back to the end of the queue at the border crossing but somehow, I don't know how or why, we ended up down the front again as our driver pushed in again. He even went so far as to unchain some barrier that some soldier had put up. It was all rather bizarre.
I thought the drivers were bad when it came to pushing in. But the people themselves started to try it on at immigration. They'd see someone they knew down the front and the next thing they'd be an extra five people in front of you. So I fought back and decided that if they were going to jump in front of me I'd jump in front of them so the three of us started shouting and trying to push in front of them and they ended up capitulating and the extra five disappeared down the back again.
Then on the Chinese side they spotted Sally's antique horse in her suitcase and called her over and started asking her questions about it. Weirdly enough we were actually entering China so I don't know what they could have done even if they'd decided it were a national treasure. Needless to say it's got Sally paranoid for when she leaves again in a few week's time.
I thought our driver might have been a bit of a pain but he actually did come and pick us up again after each stint through immigration and he dropped us off at a perfect place to get a taxi to our next destination, several hundred kilometers inside Inner Mongolia.
I pointed out that the driver had a stuffed toy on his dashboard and that must be a good sign. And sure enough, before heading off he stopped at a shop to buy himself some drinks... and bought each of us a bottle of water as well.
So off we went. It looks like there are cars near the border every day waiting for fares hundreds of kilometers inland. Again he wanted a full car so he said if we paid for the extra fare we could leave immediately. As we had so much luggage we didn't really have any choice... an extra person and we've have to leave luggage behind!
It was a pretty long car trip but it was pretty comfortable. Finally some shut-eye for Nora.
So, Xilinhot. We didn't know that much about it before we left. It turned out to be a pretty modern city. Our driver rang someone he knew in town and he found us a hotel.. a very small hotel but comfortable enough and in quite a good location.
The rest of the day was taken up with food and a wander down the main road.
There seem to be more clothes shops in one block of one street than in the whole of Hobart. Nora and Sally are getting quite excited. But I think after a while when you see so many shops it has the opposite effect and you can't be bothered any more.
The latest baby-wear in China. This was pretty common in Mongolia too.
The food was pretty spectacular but Nora and Sally were trying to cut down so I had to have the second and third meals by myself with the two of them watching.
The food was certainly interesting. Here are some soyabeans I think. Apparently it was the beginning of the season and they aren't always available.
And as we discovered, we were a bit of a novelty and we had requests for us to have our photo taken with random people... Do we look that weird?
I'm not sure what the point of this photo was... That iphone's are annoying for those that don't have them...? or was it that I was actually falling asleep again...?
They take their street-lighting pretty seriously... They whole city was lit up like this.
We finished up eating yet again. Though only some noodles... finally. Plus we found a pretty dusty bottle of wine. Not too bad.