Saturday, June 28, 2014

Inner Mongolia: The Experience (2): Qi Qian, The Last Frontier

The most memorable place I went this trip is arguably a tiny town called Qi Qian (奇乾).  It is a border town next to Russia (we were told we may get shot if we try to go into the water) and there are only six households (including one household of livestock).


There is no shower, the toilet is an outpost outside the house in the "garden", and the hot water we got to wash our face and wipe our bodies was specially boiled for us by our host.

A real outpost
Believe it or not, it did not stink as much
compared to some other bathrooms
we came across in this trip

Night is short but I saw one of the most beautiful sky because of zero light pollution and the sunrise at 3am is magical.

I have seen nothing like this
I have a feeling this one will be hard to top for the rest of my life.

Qi Qian is not a typical tourist stop and actually quite difficult to get to.  As mentioned, it's a border town next to Russia.  You have to have some connection to be able to come here.  Our driver/guide was a soldier so that's how we got to go.  Our host was a soldier too.  He lives a humble life in Qi Qian after he retired from the army.  Thank goodness he doesn't live in Qi Qian 365 days a year but retreats to the village, where his sons lives, and spend the unrelenting winter there instead. (Winter in Inner Mongolia can be as cold as negative 50 degrees Celcius!!!)

Our host is in his 80s (?) but still in good health
He is of Polish decent and speaks perfect Mandarin (and Russian).
He is an excellent singer and a joyous man.
His wife used to be an army doctor and she is very kind.
We enjoyed their hospitality a lot!
This is the hut we (and the rest of the girls) spent the night.
I can't say it is comfy but it is very clean.
When our host was younger and in better health,
he would go into the river and show his guests how to catch fish
(Both the Chinese and Russian soldiers respect him so he can fish)

It was inconvenient to a superlative degree for any person who grew up in the city.  Yet, it is the prettiest place I visited in this trip.  Didn't I go to Inner Mongolia to experience the local lifestyle?  I got my wish answered here.  (Be careful what you wish for!)  Luckily it was only for one night. (LOL)

I wonder if this is the household of livestock they mentioned :P
The grandson of our host took us on a short hike
There were SO MANY mosquitos!!!
Good thing I am always prepared...
I wore long sleeves, long pants, plus a hat
and literally drenched myself in mosquito repellent with DEET
The host's wife cooked so many dishes for us!
she also made us plenty of bao for breakfast!
I really like the filling
It has quite a strong herbal taste!
I wonder if it was dill


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