Not only was Inner Mongolia a destination that I had never heard of before, it is a place that I never imagined myself ever visiting.
Inner Mongolia is a region in Northern China that borders the country of Mongolia. Its culture is influenced by the Mongolians, making it very different from the rest of China; they dress differently, eat local cuisine, and have their own language.
Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, is a 45 minute flight from Beijing. The city and its surrounding areas are known for manufacturing and produce mass amounts of red meat and dairy. Hohhot is a mountainous region with both grassland and desert.
When we weren’t sightseeing the city of Hohhot, the home of Genghis Khan, we spent time in the grasslands riding horses and trying archery. But, my favorite day by far was the day spent in Sounding Sand Bay desert. Located 3 hours north of Hohhot city, the desert is accessible via cable car, sand buggy, and then train. Yup. In order to get to the middle of the desert, we had to take a train.
The middle of this desert was not what I expected. First, there was a water park. A WATER PARK. With inflatable slides, pools, and diving boards for visitors to use. There was also a food court and a stage for performances.
After we ate, we made our way through the dunes to a carrell with camels for our much-anticipated ride. When I last rode a camel in Morocco, I used stairs to get on, but this time the camels were lying down for us to get on. They got up with their back legs first, which was a little scary, but once the caravan was moving it was a very smooth ride over the dunes!
After our ride we went to a music show. There was a tent where musicians played traditional instruments and sung. Very few people in the world can sing the way the Mongolians do- the men use their chest and throat to create deep vibrations and chant. It was very impressive! I completely forgot that we were in the middle of the desert until I looked down and saw the sand floor.
After the show we checked out some life-size sand sculptures and had free time in the dunes. The highlight of the day was running up and down the dunes and making “sand angels” all the while avoiding sand beetles. From the top dune, all I could see for miles was sand. It was absolutely breath-taking; like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and like nothing I’ll ever see again.
Our last activity in the desert was sand boarding. We rode a sled down one of the steeper dunes to the bottom, which was thrilling, and then took a bus back up to the parking lot to end our day.
My day in the desert was definitely one of the best days I’ve had. Inner Mongolia is one of the most unique places I’ll probably ever see and experience, and I am so grateful that I had the chance to do so at such a young age. However, even if I visited when I was older, you could probably still find me running through the dunes, happy as could be!
Check out the video I made about my trip to China here!
Until next time,