Visiting Mei Li Geng and the Grasslands in Inner Mongolia 2015 by R.P. BenDedek
Written on 01/19/16 at 01:16:53 AEST by R .P. BenDedek
Stories From China Finding Myself in China: Eventually we piled in the bus and headed back to civilization. The Chinese guests did what all Chinese do on trips - they fell asleep. On our way back to Baotou via the airport at Dong He from whence the paying tourists were departing by air for Suzhou, we stopped for gas. Taking the opportunity, I headed off for the public restroom where I hoped to do two things. The first you can guess at and the second was to have a cigarette. One of the other tourists decided to follow me and entered about 30 seconds after me. As he walked in (and this guy could not speak any English), the guy loudly exclaimed in English: "Holy shit!" And that just about sums up for you what many a public toilet in China is really like.

Visiting Mei Li Geng and the Grasslands in Inner Mongolia 2015

by R.P. BenDedek

(5:17 PM 1/19/2016 Beijing Time)




'Finding Myself in China: A Politically Incorrect Story'



Sights of Inner Mongolia

From July 2009 to August 2011 I was living in Baotou City in Inner Mongolia and during that time I made a number of good friends. In 2015 I decided not to return to Australia during my summer vacation. The decision was partly financial; I spend too much when I go home, and partly because I wanted to go travel a little. Not having seen my friends in Baotou for four years, I decided to return for a short visit and so on June 30th, my birthday, I boarded an overnight train for Baotou.

Before leaving I had organized a hotel to stay in and since all I really required was a place in which to sleep and shower, I chose the cheapest hotel I could find. During my search through Ctrip, I came across a hotel opposite Ba Yi Park offering a 'special deal' of only 83 rmb per night. Although I booked it for seven nights straight and received confirmation of the booking, two days later I was informed that for some reason that room was no longer available. (No accusations!)

I then found another hotel around the corner offering a special deal of 93rmb per night and booked it for seven nights. The booking held although I admit that I sort of dreaded what I would be walking into. I really didn't know how much time I would need in Baotou because I didn't know who would have time to see me and when. It was all rather pot luck. I also wanted to do a scenic tour or two and contacted my friend Arnold to see if he could fit me in on one of his tours. Unfortunately my schedule conflicted with not only his family's traditional get together for the Naadam Festival but other tour bookings that he already had.

Oh well! To quote the most oft heard Chinese commiserations in mainland China: "It doesn't matter! It's not important! Do not worry!"

With a one way train ticket and a cheap hotel for nine days, on my birthday I boarded the train and settled in for the long journey which took me through some rather interesting countryside.

This little girl in the top left photo was afraid of me at the beginning of the journey but had become a good friend by the time she left.

Taking photographs from a moving train through closed windows is not the best way to view the countryside.

I am reasonably certain that we are looking at the Yellow River here.
(See photographs taken: On the Banks of the Yellow River)
It is this color most of the way right down to the Yellow Sea.
I actually don't know where we were on our journey north but we were somewhere.

I can't remember now what time we arrived in Baotou July 1st, but I was met by my friend Miss Mae who in typical Chinese fashion bundled me straight into a taxi. As we headed into town she asked me the details of the hotel in which I would be staying, but alas they were actually recorded on a piece of paper tucked away in my bag which was now in the trunk of the taxi. Not to worry though, I remembered the street name and number. When I had tried to find this hotel on the map, I realized that it was right by where I had lived for a year during my previous stay in Baotou.

When we arrived, I just had to laugh. The building I had previously lived in formed part of this hotel. There was one section which was for long term accommodation and the other used as an ordinary hotel. I was back on familiar territory. In case you would like to know, I was booked into the Dingxin Business Hotel at No. 88 Linyin Road Kunqu District, telephone number 0472-2822222. The room, the bed and the bathroom were quite large although there was no refrigerator or TV. But what can you expect for 93rmb per night.

Miss Mae got me settled into my room and left me for a couple of hours so that I could rest, and then met up with me for dinner. I used some of that free time to text a number of people to inform them of my arrival and location. At the appointed time Miss Mae arrived to collect me and off we went to have a leisurely and chatty supper.

I guess if I was a good tourist I would have bought a map and been constantly running to the conductor asking where we were.
I don't know where we were when I took these photographs.
I only know that there was some nice scenery and this temple in the bottom photographs above.

I can look at the passing scenery all day long. I just love it.

I can tell you that we are in Inner Mongolia and in fact, approaching the town of E'erduosi (bottom left frame above.)

Notice the change in the color of the grass and note the desert in the bottom right frame.
Bottom left frame is of a not so modern Mongolian dwelling.
(You can see other photos of the Yellow River and Clay-straw Mongolian buildings in On the Banks of the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia.)
See also - Tour Guide Chaolu's site photographs

Mei Li Geng

Over the course of the following three days (July 2-4) I had numerous telephonic conversations with various friends as we made arrangements to meet, but spent a lot of time with Miss Mae. On the afternoon of the 4th she advised me that some of her coworkers intended to go hiking in the mountains on the 5th and she and I were invited. It sounds quite good to put it that way, but in reality it was more like, my friends have invited us and we are going. And so off we went to Mei Li Geng.

According to this China article with Photos by Matt Hodges "Baotou lies within 1.5 hours’ drive of the Mei Li Geng scenic spot, just west of the Yinshan Mountains. You can spend a few hours hiking up alpine streams (or take the cable car for 110 yuan both ways) and shower at the bottom of a 66-meter waterfall. From there you can drive to the serene and Tibet-like Wudangzhao Lamasery (Mongolian for “willow”). Built in 1749 during the Qing Dynasty, it is perched atop a cool plateau and ranks as one of the four most famous lamaseries in Inner Mongolia."

We didn't go to the Wudangzhao Lamasery after our trip up the mountain, but we did go somewhere equally impressive. Our day started with two car loads of people - one doctor, three nurses and a foreigner, traveling to the foot of the mountain where we parked our car in the designated car parking lot. (Top Left Photo below). One has to buy a ticket to go up this mountain, and I felt quite bad that one of the nurses had gone to the ticket booth to purchase all of our tickets. When I commented on this to Miss Mae, she informed me that in fact none of us were paying because their big boss had given us free passes. Lovely! It's not what you know but who!

Mei Li Geng scenic spot, just west of the Yinshan Mountains

Once everything was organized at the ticket office, we were directed to go wait in a small bus which was to take us to the start of the hiking trail and the chairlift. The doctor, Miss Mae and I, all being a little older than the others and therefore far more knowledgeable, decided to take the healthy option and take the chairlift. The others chose the hiking trail.

If you have ever lived in China you are probably laughing right now, because you already know that trusting oneself to any mechanical device in China is a somewhat dicey option. Even though I knew I was taking my life in my hands, and even though I have a 'hilarious to others' but horrifying for myself - fear of falling (not heights - just falling), I figured that taking the chairlift was preferable to the climb. I did after all come to Baotou to enjoy myself - not to die in the attempt - although that was still something in question.

Miss Mae and the Doc went in the chair before me and I traveled with a stranger and thankfully I had my trusty camera with me, without which two things would have happened. The first is that you would not be able to see the pictures that I didn't take, and the second, is that I probably would have completely freaked out on the chairlift.

Somehow, keeping my eye on the camera viewfinder and constantly taking photos, kept me from actually looking at the surrounding scenery. Ah! You think I jest! Just ask Miss Mae how I behaved on the trip back when she kept insisting that I look at her and the scenery - and particularly how I behaved when she rocked the chair. Thankfully at my age one expects old people to suffer from incontinence!

These photographs just give you an idea of the height/incline
Photo bottom right is of a WC. You definitely don't want to go in there.

I actually have no idea what distance the chairlift travels but it is significant.

You can see steps up the mountain. They are part of the hiking trail.

Taking a breather

I don't know how long the three of us were sitting halfway up the mountain before the two nurses arrived, but once they did they insisted that they wanted to climb the rest of the way to the top. You have got to be kidding me! I had taken the chairlift and I had no desire to go the rest of the way on foot.

The Doc, Miss Mae and I sat around in the shade on a park bench upwind from a public restroom. We had to have been upwind of it because when I decided to actually use it, I actually couldn't get near it for the smell and I have enough experience of Chinese toilets to bear a lot. Of the three public toilets I sought to use during my stay in Baotou, this was the only one that I physically could not stomach to enter.

Loaded down with drinks, peanuts and other goodies Miss Mae brought along, we spent our time in the one place just chilling out and talking - well - except for those times when I played the monkey in the cage for all the tourists who stopped to gawk and talk about the fabulously sexy foreigner - or other words to some other effect.

After one disembarks from the chairlift - there is still a long way to go to explore the heights of this mountain.
Having been blessed with fine intelligence delicately balanced with old age, obesity and laziness -
I camped by the stream and waited for the rest to come back.

I just loved the comic humor of this scene.

Stopping for a Mongolian Lunch

When eventually the nurses returned from their hike, the five of us took the chairlift down to the starting point. On this journey I found myself accompanied by Miss Mae who simply could not believe just how terrified I am of falling. Many people confuse a fear of falling with a fear of heights. They are not the same. I have flown strapped into a military helicopter with no doors, that was flying on its side almost and at quite some distance from the ground. I had no fear. I once had to climb onto the roof of a single storey house to help an injured person down. I was terrified. It's not a question of how high I am, but whether or not my body and its instincts tell me that I am safe - and sitting in that chairlift I definitely did not feel safe, particularly when Miss Mae decided to rock it.

Needless to say we made it down safely, and taking the bus, arrived back at the car park safely. Heading back to the main road I could hear everyone discussing some place that they had to find but it took ages to understand what they were talking about. There were a series of new and old Mongolian villages along the way, and they were looking for the correct turn off to one that they wished to visit. As it transpired, we were destined to have lunch with some Mongolian friends of the nurses.

We had a very interesting afternoon in this little 'village'; a word that doesn't provide a proper understanding of the location. It was a village because everyone lived in the same place as neighbors, but every place was walled up and cut off from every other place. The particular house we went to was an older style brick and straw house that consisted of 3 rooms. There was the bedroom/living room, the small kitchen/preparation room/ washroom, and then there was the stove next door in the kitchen/barn/storeroom. Right beside this house was the very new and modern dwelling that was all but complete, but not so complete that this old place was ready for the scrap heap. This style of Mongolian dwelling was obviously built according to long held traditions for a race of people who must at one time have been very very short people. Not once, not twice, but three times I hit my head on the door frame of the house.

Our lunch was ordinary household food and the conversation interesting. I said interesting - not intelligible. They were speaking that peculiar mixed Mongolian/Mandarin language that Mongolian people speak in Inner Mongolia. I find it interesting how frequently they use their upward inflexion in places that Mandarin does not. At any rate, after dinner we all had a little sleep on the big Mongolian 'family bed,' and afterward headed off to the fields to deliver lunch to our hostesses' husband.

The old and still used Mongolian house on the left - and the new and being used house on the right.
The open door in the photo on left leads to the barn/kitchen where Miss Mae is helping to prepare lunch.
Bottom Right frame was taken in the fields. We had taken lunch out to the hostesses' husband.

If I have my directions right, the view in these photos above is toward the North and hence Outer Mongolia.
The photo top right shows water coming up from the aquifer to water the fields. It was freezing cold and pure.
I don't have any photographs of all the vitamin bottles strewn about the place.
Apparently adding vitamins and minerals to the crop is a common practice in China and causes some problems.

Visiting the Xilamuren Grasslands.

The day following our trip to Mei Li Geng, Miss Mae came to tell me that on the morning of the 7th of July, we had an opportunity to go on a virtually free organized tour to the Xilamuren Grasslands. In China it is not important what you know but who, and keeping this in mind will help you to understand the situation. A tour company guide was taking three business people who hailed from Suzhou, on a tour of the grasslands. The trip was fully paid for. The bus however still had two seats free and for a nominal fee (the gratuity) we were invited to join the tour. The tour guide was the second cousin of a student who had at one time attended the same school as the first cousin of one of the nurse's next door neighbor. (Or maybe just someone she once met). And so it was that the deal was struck to allow us to travel on this trip.

It was a long drive to the grasslands from Baotou but apart from the many Mongolian villages we passed, there wasn't much to see although nearing our destination I noticed that there were horses grazing on the hills. Without warning we arrived at our destination. Upon exiting the van we were greeted by official welcomers who greeted us with song and an offering of watered down 'baijiu.' I drank my drink and proceeded to video Miss Mae drinking hers. Just then one of the greeters dashed off in my direction, and as he did, his keys or something caught the 'hada' of the lady greeter. He almost pulled her over.

This photograph was taken at the Xilamuren Grasslands.
Miss Mae told me that we were going to the grasslands and we did.
Apparently there are a number of them.
This photo and the one below are lifted from videos.

Miss Mae is sipping down the watered down 'welcome drink'
The hostess has grabbed her 'hada' which got caught in the keys of a passing greeter.

We all know the saying: "been there - done that". That just about sums up the way I felt within 5 minutes of arriving. It was a tourist spot with horses to ride - for a fee - and those dune buggy things to ride - also for a fee. I can ride a horse (I did a spot of horseback cattle and sheep mustering in Western Queensland), but I was hesitant to ride these little ponies. I felt sure that I would break their backs. Then too, if you have ever been to horse riding tourist places, the horses are so placid that they are not worth the ride. It is definitely a thing for the city slicker. Miss Mae grabbed a dune buggy and promptly disappeared and I just wandered around until eventually we guests were rounded up by the tour guide and taken off to lunch.

We were entertained by a guy singing Mongolian songs and for a nominal fee - if you were a western tourist - you could actually choose your favorite song for him to sing. Yeah! No thanks!

We had a light but enjoyable lunch after which I vacated the building to have a cigarette and visit the public restroom. This was my second public restroom stop during my stay in Baotou. To say that it was a disgusting place would only be appropriate if I had never visited the restroom up Mei Li Geng. I could bear it! (Another Chinese-English phrase.)

Eventually we piled in the bus and headed back to civilization. The Chinese guests did what all Chinese do on trips - they fell asleep. On our way back to Baotou via the airport at Dong He from whence the paying tourists were departing by air for Suzhou, we stopped for gas. Taking the opportunity, I headed off for the public restroom where I hoped to do two things. The first you can guess at and the second was to have a cigarette. One of the other tourists decided to follow me and entered about 30 seconds after me. As he walked in (and this guy could not speak any English), the guy loudly exclaimed in English: "Holy shit!" And that just about sums up for you what many a public toilet in China is really like.

In due course the three guys were dropped off at the airport and Miss Mae and I were taken back to Kunqu District in Baotou. All in all an interesting day.

You guessed it - HORSES! Not much bigger than a big dog. I'd be afraid of breaking its back if I sat on one.
I am an accomplished horseman as is proven by the number of times I have hit the dirt without injury.
Doing somersaults over the heads of horses is my specialty. Prince Harry of Windsor - eat your heart out!

Top frames below
There were just so many villages along the way to our grassland trip.
So many of them were of the clay/straw variety.

The photos above are of the same place on different sides of the road, and they mark the boundary between here and there.
Don't ask me! I just know it is the border of this and that place!

The country scenes in the photos below were all taken on our way home.
We detoured via Dong He to drop the other passengers off at the airport.

Above: A Mongolian Village

Country scenes on the way into Dong He

The bottom right frame above was taken at the grasslands when we had lunch.
The waiter/singer/official greeter is here giving us a cup of white spirits (watered down!)

Extending My Stay and Transportation Problems

As I said at the beginning of this little story, I had booked into my hotel for only nine days. After a few days in Baotou it became apparent that I would need to stay a few extra days to catch up with all the people that it was possible to see. Two of them were away. One was with her family on holidays and the other was with her mother in Beijing. All the rest just needed to find the time to see me. So I approached the hotel receptionist and extended my stay for three extra days at the same booking price. I immediately went to the train station to book a ticket back to Suzhou. No such luck. With university students finishing up at the very end of June, and many of them needing to travel home, and all the locals now on holidays with a chance to travel, there were no train tickets to be had. I was even prepared to extend my stay until the third week of July. No luck with train tickets though. Eventually I had to buy a plane ticket back to Shanghai. It blew the budget - but so what!

Over my final days in Baotou I managed to see everyone I wanted to see including Helen with whom I had once visited Nanhai Park and Lake. We managed to spend a whole day together running around Baotou, visiting sites and eating in local establishments. Helen is Ukrainian. She owned a business in the Ukraine and after her divorce, she put her business in the care of a manager and came to China to teach. Unfortunately now, with all that is going on in the Ukraine, her whole family is in China with her because they are basically homeless. Such is life! But life goes on!

I guess I could have written a few more things into this story, but it is long enough as it is, so I am going to sign off with a quote from an old friend who often signs her emails as follows:
    That's all I got! End of Waffle!
I hope you have enjoyed this little story and the photographs!
If you click on the links to any of the Baotou stories in the article above you will find links to all of my Baotou Stories.

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'Writers Journal' FRONTPAGE

Copyright 2018 is held by the nominated authors on this article page.

About The KingsCalendar Website

R.P. BenDedek (pseudonym) is from Brisbane Australia and has been teaching in China since 2003. He is the author of 'The Kings Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' - and -

'Finding Myself in China: A Politically Incorrect Story.'

Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)

BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
    Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters

(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)

What is the King's Calendar?

Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
    The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.

    When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]

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