This weekend, we went to Inner Mongolia. We arrived at the region’s capital – Hohhot – and then drove to Xilamuren Grassland, where we stayed overnight in yurts; yurts are similar to round tents. Before, the yurts were used by nomadic peoples who roamed the Inner Mongolian grasslands; the yurts were very convenient because they are portable. Today, the yurts are more symbolic and not used for the nomadic lifestyle as much.
Our first activity in Inner Mongolia was traveling around the grasslands on horseback. We visited a herdsman’s family and ate their traditional foods and visited an aobao. Inner Mongolia is known for its dairy products, so we tried their milk tea, milk candies and bread sticks. An aobao is composed of stone piles and scarves, and is used for worship.
After horseback riding, we watched horse racing and Inner Mongolian style wrestling. There were about eight horses in the race, but it quickly dwindled down to three. The horses only needed to complete two laps in order to win.
Inner Mongolian wrestling is different from other styles of wrestling in that you want to throw your opponent down by only engaging the upper half of your body. You are not allowed to touch your opponent’s legs, or strike, strangle or lock your opponent. Some of our friends even participated!
For our second day, we spent the day in the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is absolutely beautiful; the rolling hills of tan sand seemed endless! For all our of adventures in the desert, we went to the Resonant Sand Gorge, or Xiangshawan.
We first saw a traditional wedding ceremony performance at the Art Desert Gallery there; it was very intricate, and there was a lot of symbolism. There was a lot of preparation before the actual wedding, and the bride-to-be was kept a secret to the village and the audience until the ceremony. There were electronic screens on the sides of the stage to aide the audience in knowing what was happening.