The Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of northern China bordering Mongolia. Fixed 1 183 000 km2 for 24 706 321 people, its population density is very low compared to the rest of China (a reminder of France is 675 417 km2, is less than half the area, for 65 800 000 d’habitant, capita is five times more !). Main reason for this, territory is covered steppes principlament, high plateaus and desert (Gobi).
Originally I wanted to go to Ulan-Bator depuis Beijing, and visit Mongolia, “true”. Unfortunately face the difficulties in reaching the 2 Trans-Siberian cities (severe lack of time and money) we opted for a shorter trek and flight Beijing <> Xilin Hot, relatively remote city of Inner Mongolia. Domestic flights are not very expensive – 110 € the round trip – and much faster than the train, it allowed us to organize a trek just days (my brother working in Beijing, impossible to take a week's vacation…). And it saved us additional requests for VISA…
Before we get there, we did some research on the internet and I must admit that very little information circulating about this city and this region, at least in English or French. As I said, there is no guide in the region at the moment. We knew it was possible to see the steppes north of the city (“Grass Lands”, and we learned the existence of a beautiful natural park recorded at UNESCO, to Hexigten, a few hours drive south of Xilin Hot… it is just about everything that we knew, the rest would be the adventure ! Finally…, Google Map, Images and translation as well as 3G (when she walked, ie in town…) and a few words of Chinese my brother was finally our best tools adventurer.
Xilin Hot et ses abords.
Xilin Hot is a city that is at the stage of permanent construction. Further away from the city center, the more infrastructure construction increases (routes, buildings…) and paradoxically the city looks like a ghost town. Looks like there's more housing than people and new buildings grows inexorably and only for the interest of investors from elsewhere (150 € per m2 can be understood…). Unfortunately, it's a safe bet that everything will be razed and rebuilt in less than 10 years when the quality of construction is found (concrete drinking water, poorly drained roads…), it's pretty chaotic. From the periphery, was a bit like watching a city from the game Fallout 3. If people are usually very hospitable time (As it is not about selling you a service…) and greet you warmly in the street. It must be admitted that such spontaneity and sincerity that feels weird when you are used to Beijing or Hong Kong. Here people rarely see the Caucasian and the small anecdote, we were with my brother in the city center 20 minutes after we arrived at the hotel… on the stroke of noon, face à un BBQ ambulant, a big gruff kind just out of his yard come and see us, We said hello and we : “it is you the French ?”, this will tell you the speed at which information circulated ! Xilin Hot, although very ugly, was finally a sacred human experience !
Inner Mongolia has marked us with his bright light and beautiful skies. This is certainly due to highly large spaces auquels we finally unaccustomed. 2 ethnic groups live mainly. The “Han”, representing 92 % of the Chinese population (the largest ethnic group in the world) and “Mongo” descendants of the Huns.
The Mongols have always lived a nomadic and some of them are now living in the city of Xilin Hot. With a lifestyle horse (no pun) between American Indians and Gypsies, they tend to settle in small houses around the city, while keeping their yurt “next to”. The richest of them even have a car or farm equipment (for example a tractor).
The main resource of the people, Also tourism to Chinese from the city, this is livestock. The Mongols who still live in the steppe and the whole place and the grass it takes to raise horses (sometimes replaced by motorcycles) which they use to move and mentor herds of cows and sheep. To have eaten Mongolian beef, selected and chopped by a French butcher installed in Beijing, I can also tell you it is an extremely good ! (is not more “bio” it as meat…). The taste is very close to our best beef and is probably the comparison with our Charolais, Limousines etc.. And the Mongols, although most are poor, have a grip on the biggest beef market (and perhaps sheep) Country, not bad for a small ethnic !
The final, and even if we have not seen a piece of territory, This trek has been a bit like an introduction to Mongolia, one wild lands I dream of visiting for many years as Siberia (Lake Baikal) or L’Altai.
I close this post with again 2 pretty epic pictures and video, the first photo will be understood by English speakers, the second is just… super kitch ? When the video some of you know what it is