Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nei Menggu

Over a year ago, well before we left the States, someone affiliated with the Fulbright program said something like the following...

"I fully expect to hear that the Balla family is hiking its way across Inner Mongolia."

Sure enough, tomorrow we set out for a few days in the grasslands of Hulunbeier. The Hulunbeier grasslands, we have heard it said, are the prettiest in all of China, and are among the most scenic anywhere in the world. Apparently, the grasses there are twice as tall as those outside of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. And there should be relatively few people jostling us for views of all of this beauty.

Why so few people? Hulunbeier is located way up in the northeast of Inner Mongolia, along the province's border with Russia. In fact, Manzhouli, the town we are flying into, is maybe China's busiest land port of entry, as well as the place where the Trans Siberian railroad enters and exits Russia. From Manzhouli, we'll follow our noses wherever they lead us, which is why we're going in without having set up any places to stay. In a pinch, all of that grass looks comfortable enough! (Famous last words!)

We're also leaving the laptop at home, as I have no desire to cart it on my back! Who knows, we may stumble upon a yurt with wifi! Short of that, we'll write along the way and post our thoughts and pictures when we get back.

~Steve

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