Getting to grips with the lingo

So I’m writing this one because today I actually managed my first full conversation at a shop in Chinese, and it may only be small but it felt good to know I’m actually learning some stuff!

I’ve been having 2 Chinese lessons a week for about 5 weeks now so we’ve actually managed to cover a lot. Chinese is such a hard language to learn because it has tones which changes the pronunciation ever so slightly, but means it is very very easy to cock up and say the wrong thing.

For example:

bǐ – means pen

Bī – means vagina

So it is FAR too easy to ask for a vagina instead of a pen 🙃

Another very easy one to mistake is jī can either be chicken or prostitute.

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Inner Mongolia

Sorry I have been so quiet recently, I’ve got a bit caught up with life and haven’t had the time. This post is going to be about a trip I did at the weekend to Inner Mongolia.

Inner Mongolia is a bit of a rogue one, I don’t think I know anyone else that has been there, and ngl even when we were there, there were hardly any western tourists.

On the Thursday night we took a sleeper train from Beijing west station to Hohhot. Beijing west is probably the most mental and confusing train station I have ever been to. It was basically like an airport: we had to get there like 2 hours before, have our bags scanned and have our passports checked. There was even waiting rooms by the entrances to each platform. The sleeper train was a bit of an experience. I was in a top bunk, so on one hand, great! Because I was closer to the aircon. On the other hand, I had to climb up to the third bunk every time I wanted to pee which wasn’t so great.

We arrived into Hohhot at around 9 in the morning and got picked up by our driver who took us into the grasslands. The grasslands themselves were very beautiful, but very very commercialised. There was loads of ‘camps’ or circular buildings designed to look like the traditional yurts, and horse riding was around £40 for an hour which we thought was really expensive so decided not to do that.

The food was shocking! Maybe the worst meal I’ve ever been presented in my life, no joke! I don’t really understand how you can fuck up rice? It was in one of those massive halls where they cram in as many tourists as possible and the bowls and cups and chopsticks are dirty. And the food is just generally awful quality. In the afternoon we went for a walk and found the owner of the next camp over who said we could go there for dinner instead. His food was a million times better. Lamb noodle soup with fresh noodles, egg and tomato, and manto (I think that’s how you spell it). He was an absolute blessing. In the evening, there was a ‘bonfire’ (a crap little fire in), so we sort of abandoned that and tried to do some stargazing ourselves instead. The inside of our yurt was quite cool, we all decided we didn’t mind sacrificing authenticity and staying in concrete ones because it meant we had showers and aircon.

The next morning we took a very scenic drive into the desert. We passed loads of sunflower fields and some gorgeous mountains.

The desert was very cool. I love deserts anyway so it was bound to be amazing whatever happened. We took a cable car over a huge ravine and into the sand dunes. From there we took (sounds crazy but roll with it) a boat on wheels through the desert (I shit you not) to what was basically a desert theme park. We had to wait an hour to ride camels for 7 whole minutes, but tbh it got some cool pictures so I didn’t mind that much.

There were loads of other cool things to do (all of them had huge queues sadly) like zip lining, quad biking and dune buggies. There was also a circus show and it was just generally pretty crazy.

In the evening we headed bank to Hohhot to stay in a hotel. For dinner we had a hotpot and noodles which was very good, and very welcome after the crap tour food.

I think Sunday was probably my favourite day. We explored the city and did some cultural things like museums and temples.

Sadly I don’t really know the names of the places we went to but they were amazing. We were told the temple wasn’t very good, so I went in with low expectations, but it was maybe one of my favourite that I have ever been to! It was so colourful, and each room held amazing statues of deities. In one of the final rooms there was a 9m tall, gold statue which was absolutely incredible.

I wish I knew more of the names in Chinese, because I don’t think my descriptions could do it justice. It was incredible!

We also went to a museum that had more natural history, and a bit on the many different ethnic groups that live in Inner Mongolia.

All in all it was a very mixed bag. We saw some very stunning things, but also think it’s one of those places I wouldn’t bother to go back to.

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