Trip to Inner Mongolia

14 Oct

Dear all,

It is slightly over one month since we arrived in Beijing. Time really flies! On Sunday (3 October) we went in an organized trip to the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.  That was an experience by itself! Well we got there by bus mainly with German and some Danish students (somehow we stuck a little more with the Danish, but the overall mood was great). The traffic in and around Beijing was really crammed, especially in the week of national holiday.. oh… we still wonder how it comes and they don’t have serious accidents every 5 minutes.. Or maybe they have but they never finish in the news?! But despite that we all were very anxious and impatient to get to our destination. Well, while we were driving we noticed that in every corn field there were people working on harvesting with all their family (or this is how it seemed to me..) under the sun I guess for more than 8 hours and I wondered why in Albania or in Greece people from a long time ago stopped working in the fields, which now are standing as desert fields full only of thorns..By the way Genti was reminded of his fair share of that kind of work in his village, years ago when it was still the case.

After driving quite a long way, practically the whole day, with a lunch break in between, we made it to the grasslands.. well here I should state that Genti and I had no idea about the program of the trip , cause the guy who was in charge to let us know by mail, somehow forgot.. Anyhow we could not care less, after all we wanted to be surprised J but when we arrived to this place with a beautiful abstract scenery it was soo… cold.. so COLD that we wished we were a bit more prepared. However, we survived it, even the whole evening that we slept with six people in a tent (Genti, I and the Danes), a kind of damp, round tent, that the people of the grasslands used to sleep in. It was a certainly a great feeling and experience, the sky was so bright there and you could see sooo many stars and the Milky Way!! The people there welcomed us with some traditional rites, a mix in fact between tradition and touristic expectations, but hey, probably that is how globalization affects life in different corners of the globe. We had a traditional dinner there with lamb cooked their traditional way, and other food with different tastes and various ways of cooking, and in the (next) morning we even tried tea with milk and salt. Their kind of coffee for morning. When the welcome dinner and evening was coming to its end the hosts gave us a spectacular show under the stars and the (freezing) night with women and men dressed in traditional costumes, singing folk songs and dancing nice and harmonious rhythms… I was wondering how they could be so lightly dressed when I almost could not feel my ears from the cold… At the end of the event they gave us a spectacular show with fireworks!! The amount of those fireworks and the time they lasted was amazing!! Like a fairy tale: fireworks in a bright sky full of stars. I liked that a lot.  The night was very difficult to sleep adding that the blankets were kind of wet and cold, so we rested for few hours, (well some of us slept too-> Genti apparently has a thick skin!). As I said we were with six in one tent, that made it cozy but not that warm as I thought in the first place..:)

We all stood up early morning to catch the first light of the sun in the grassland.. And yes! the sun , well did not made us feel much warmer as I thought but its first light transformed the former pink , blue, hazy and mystic landscape (which I admired and photographed many times) into a bright lively place, cause everyone by 6:30 had woken up…

In our second day in grassland some of us had the choice to go horse riding or walking in the huge grassland, where the final destination a kind of a shelter for the horseman, was the place to try traditional candies made out of milk and admire customs of the region.. I did the one hour trip by foot since I discovered upon seating on one, that horse riding in a Mongolian (semi)wild horse was not a good idea. It goes without saying that Genti did the trip with the horse. Somehow the horse was not very fond of the Albanian master and tried many times to throw him on the ground, but apparently with no success! The sudden acceleration and the missteps by the horse proved a piece of cake for the experienced Albanian jockey (well, he was complaining a lot the next day about his back, but hey, nobody forced him to ride the horse) 🙂

After this particular experience we moved on with our group to the desert of Gobi. The trip was quite tiring since the traffic was crammed after an accident causing the main road to be closed, but after all this obstacle made us go from the rural areas of the North China and see some of their villages. Nevertheless we made it into the desert… transformed into a big sand amusement park… which was something new and funny for us but certainly not what he had expected… We learnt that this is the beginning of the dessert and that’s the only way for one to get a taste of it since the desert of Gobi is not inhabited. The part of desert we saw and experienced had its beautiful abstract scenery and its saturated full bright colors. The time flew really fast and after a unique experience with roller coaster in the desert and camel riding among other amusement events we had to move back to our hotel a comfortable and convenient place, a day and night contrast with the cold rounded tent. 🙂

Next morning we had to say goodbye to our new friends and wish them a nice continuation of the trip since they were continuing their trip to another town while me and my Genti had decided to stay and explore a bit more the capital of Inner Mongolia before we go back to Beijing. Hohhot is the name of the capital, an indeed is a very hot place from all aspects. I found it extremely appealing by night with all these lights lit the buildings with the bright colors and the Islamic architecture. This particular architecture and also the old neighborhood with the old traditional Chinese building and the old market, where we were the only pale faces walking around, make this city very charming. It was also the beautiful weather which made the place seem wider and more spacey, so it brought in my mind aura of Mediterranean landscapes mixed together with Asiatic myths and intoxicating aromas about the east and its dynasties , occupied from danger secretes and vivid passions…ah…in moments like those I find myself incurably romantic…!

Well, here I will finish my story guys before I make it very tiring for you.. I have started writing it three days ago and in the meanwhile we did some more sightseeing of Beijing. So the new updates to be continued in the next Issue 🙂 I already have the feeling that three months are certainly not enough to see enough of this place, to do a descent traveling around it and to work on projects. So we have to cut off some of those initial plans, but wisely… The good news is that expenses here and travelling are quite cheep so we are going to take advantage of it. The other good news is that we are both full of ideas and inspiration for making work and new collaborations that we have to fight to make everything fit. We see who going win at the end; usually time has the bigger sword as a friend of ours says! Anyhow, I hope us and not the time which while flying away waves at us with an ironic smile saying: you had to better calculate your chances and you priorities…In any case every day is a new experience for both Genti and I, both for our work and our getting to know the place better…

With lots of love and warm hugs from the still nicely warm Beijing,

Lila and Genti



3 Responses to “Trip to Inner Mongolia”

  1. Emi October 15, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Dear explorers,

    I am very glad to hear you are having such a fulfilling time in the heart of the Asia :)!
    Without saying, I am truly enjoying your updates and the sense of humour you are so able to incorporate in each and single new event you are experiencing!!!!

    I wish I was there!!!!



    • Iani October 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

      Let me understand this well… Genti slept in a tent????

      I know that you are describing a corner of the world with all its wonders, but for me the news is GENTI and TENT.

      I wish I could have joined you! This looks like a great adventure, I’m looking forward to the pictures!

      Lila, I checked your website a couple of times and I didn’t see any pics there… are you preparing something for our eyes?

      • Gentian Zyberi October 27, 2010 at 3:19 am #

        Well, I have slept in a tent before (at the seaside in Greece…and there are witnesses to back me up) 🙂

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