Temple, Factory, Performance, Dancing, Horseback Riding

The following entry was written this afternoon by Brent Gorton:

On Tuesday morning, we visited a two hundred-year-old Tibetan Buddhist temple.  It resembled the temple we had seen in Hohhot very closely because it was the summer palace for the original when the Hohhot weather became too hot.
Several monks had come on the same day as well to honor a high-standing lama who had recently passed away, and we were able to take a picture with the group.  In our bus, we then made our way through the small city to a dairy factory.  Inside we walked along a hall overlooking several rooms with different kinds of interesting machines.  In the other section of the building we took a break and enjoyed various dairy products, which tasted like chewy candy, and drank sweet and salty milk tea, a signature Mongolian beverage.  For lunch we ate at a restaurant nearby, where we tried a sort of flat pancake stuffed with seasoned ground beef.  For the main event of the day, we drove to a place on the grasslands and witnessed a magnificent horse-riding performance.  Even yaks and camels were a part of the act, and riders on horses performed impressive acrobatic stunts, such as riding standing straight up on the horse’s back and another more complex move that is too difficult to explain in writing.  On our way back to the yurt camp, we stopped by a small river to collect round rocks that would be used to cook that night’s dinner.  In the large dining yurt we ate lamb that had been cooked in the lamb stomach by the heated rocks.  Preparing it involved placing blocks of chopped meat carefully into the stomach along with evenly dispersed hot rocks.  At night we traveled back to the same area where we had watched the horse-riding show to see another horse-riding performance, but this one was much shorter and involved more music and dancing.  At our last stop of the day, we ordered sodas and lamb kabobs at a small restaurant for a late-night snack.

On Wednesday morning we finally got to ride horses on the steppe of Inner Mongolia, something we had all been anticipating for days.  It was my first time riding a horse, and I was excited to get going.  At around 10:30 in the morning, the eleven of us, along with two guides, set out on our horses for a four-hour-long journey around the grasslands.  Most of the time, our horses either walked or trotted, but towards the end of the ride, our horses broke into a canter a few times, which is a thrilling, swift speed faster than a walk or the quick, bumpy trot, but not as fast as a full gallop.  After we hopped off our horses at the end of the four hours, our legs were so tired that it felt strange to walk, and we rested for a while in the afternoon after lunch.  Tonight, there is more to come, as we will be celebrating Ms. Jin’s birthday on our last night in the grasslands!