Feast your eyes, Inner Mongolia!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Ever since leaving China I've been trying to upload all the pics onto Flickr using a blog app called Blogsy. Not sure if it's mainly a wifi bandwidth issue but my uploading connections would break frequently. Anyways, here's a giant post. Some of the landscapes here were one of the best I've seen on the trip.

After getting re-approved for another visa for one month we headed back to Shenyang. Viv's mom organized a trip to Chi Feng, located in the Inner Mongolia region in China. The three of us took a 12hr overnight train to Chifeng and met up with some of her friends who live there. We had a great Mongolian breakfast (see in food post) and drove out to her mom's friend's farm after as they invited us over for lunch.

The next couple of days we rented a van with driver that took us to the countryside to experience the Mongolian way of life. You know you're in the countryside when you get whiffs of manure every hour πŸ™‚ Along the way we stopped by a local Mongolian famiy's home. They had several yurts lined up in a row as separate rooms. Some of the yurts had a portrait of Genghis Khan hung on the wall. At that moment you definitely feel the authenticity about their way of life and that they've been living this way for centuries.

Don't get too close, that guy has weapons on his head

We went inside one of the huts and took some photos. Viv put on a traditional cap and I had the cowboy hat.

I really like this pic of the open door with the view of the grass fields.

The ceiling has an opening for ventilation.

Then a cute little girl came in and put on one of the hats. She really knew how to pose in front of the camera!

Everyone gathered in another hut where the family offered us tea and cheese. The cheese was very similar to the texture of barfi, except that the flavour was a bit sour and not sweet.

The little girl was helping herself to a slice as well!

We actually came back to this family's home the next day for breakfast.

And she wore a new outfit!

We drove 5hrs Northwest before reaching our destination at the Arshihaty Stone Forest in a city called Hexigten. The stone forest is the most popular attraction there with its natural horizontal rock formations. It was a sunny day so whole landscape looked very cool.

Here's a site where a section of rock collapsed by natural forces. Seems like a set of dominos knocked over.

Viv's mom's pic had a wider scope than mine.

This is named the general's bed. It's god size, assuming that's the next size up from king πŸ™‚

Formation of a bird. It was shaped like this through natural causes.

Our accommodation for the night was right by the stone forest. We stayed in a detached room and not a yurt since it was much cheaper. Apparently they run between 500-1000RMB/night?? Considering the tourist season only lasts two months I guess they can hike the price to maximize revenues. The season is so short due to the fact that it's freaking cold the rest of the year!

The mini yurt beside the main one is the washroom, no joke!

Nearing sunset, the clouds in the sky produced a very beautiful scene. Tried to take some shots before its gone!

The next day we're on the road again heading to another town in the Ulan Buh. Occasionally we stopped off to the side of the road if we witnessed anything interesting.

A herd of sheep chilling out. Cool.

That's a big baby still being fed by the mother.

We arrived to our next town and explored a few places. There was a local amusement park there (pretty ghetto but can't expect much from a small town).

A staple Mongolian snack sold everywhere was beef jerky. It was not bad but doesn't hold a candle to the Singapore version.

Aside from jerky stalls, other notable goods were dried mushrooms and locally produced hard liquor (at least 60%)

These liquor bottles would have been good display pieces!

Behind us is what's called an ovoo (had to google for the name of this). It serves as a religious site as well as a location marker. We were told to walk around the mound 3 times and it will help guide you on a safe journey. Sure why not?

Tested our skills with some archery. The guy in the back loves his job.

Most of the arrows went in crooked lol

We went inside this mock palace hall which looked like where daily proceedings with the Mongolian emperor would take place. You can dress up in traditional royal attire and act as the royal couple. Viv's mom and her friends seem to have a big laugh at our expense as many photos were taken πŸ˜‰

Hail the emperor!

Lookin good

Picture with camera tricks. I now have a big mole on my face! It was the damn red budded flowers!

On our last stop we passed through an area where there were windmills spread across in every direction. The meadowlands gets quite windy here, so its good to see that the country was fully harnessing this natural resource. There were hundreds of them out here!

Damn straight I ran in!

These things are huge when you get up close. Everyone tried to see if they can join hands and wrap around the whole pole lol

Look how tiny they are.

With the perfect combination of colorful meadows, sunlight, breaking clouds, and windmills, it was definitely one of the most beautiful sights that I'll remember forever. Forgot to mention that the locals here said that the lands haven't been this green and lush for 60 years so we definitely came at the right time.

The last place we visited that's quite famous near Chi Feng is Bolongke Desert. When you picture the desert, you immediately think of endless sand hills stretching to infinity. This desert looked quite different. It had greenery and rocks painted all over. Viv has been here before when she was a child. But I've never seen anything like this myself so it was an eye opener for me.

In order to reach the viewpoint, you need to hike up the. There's several routes but we decided to do the steeper but shorter one. The sand was quite fine, perfect for the beach. But it was hot as hell! Going up wasn't so bad – coming down was a pain though as your feet would disappear every step you took and it burrrrned 😦

This older lady ahead of Viv had trouble going up and had to use all four limbs lol eventually she had to stop and sit down to rest for a bit.

At the top platform

This was gorgeous


Afterwards, we went for a camel ride that took you around part of the desert. Spectacular views of another mountain here.

My ride…

Hello there

Blue umbrellas/hat and hot pink tops…coincidence that everyone was colour coordinated? Lol

Oooh, nice

Ahhhh…

On our final leg back to Chi Feng, we saw a farmer herd his sheep on the road. They were so organized trotting along as a single unit. I'm surprised they weren't startled as we drove passed them. What a nice way to cap off the trip πŸ™‚