Greetings from the Grasslands

Since we didn’t finish dinner this evening until shortly before 11:00 PM, I’ve decided to let the boys retire to their yurts so that they can get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
We slept last night at a comfortable hotel in Dalateqi, near Baotou.  After meeting this morning at 8:30 AM in the hotel lobby, we had a very good breakfast in the hotel dining room.  We then drove to the fascinating weapons museum in nearby Baotou, where we saw a number of decommissioned artillery guns, tanks, and fighter jets.

After our leisurely tour of the museum, we got back in the bus and drove about an hour to Lake Hasuhai, a beautiful freshwater body of water with magnificent views of the nearby Yin Shan mountain range.  Our lunch at the lake featured different types of freshly-caught carp, as well as bream, shrimp, and … sharksucker.

After lunch, we strolled on the boardwalk alongside the lake, attracting the gaze of some of the Chinese tourists.  I don’t think people in this part of China see many foreign tourists, and since our group is particularly (and beautifully) diverse, we tend to get a few extra looks in this part of the country.

After lunch we embarked on a long but quite scenic drive across the mountains and into the Inner Mongolian grasslands, ultimately arriving at a camp of cozy, well-appointed yurts in the middle of the Inner Mongolian steppe.  Believe it our not, as we pulled into the parking area of the camp, a stunning rainbow appeared, followed by a lovely sunset that seemed to be competing with the rainbow for natural beauty.

Dinner in a large yurt featured delicious roast lamb, which we all  learned to cut in the traditional way.  And the dinner ended with stirring live music: two local musicians — a female vocalist and a male Matou Qin player (who also sang beautifully) — serenaded us in the yurt for a solid half-hour.

My goodness, what a trip this has been.  We can’t wait to see what might happen tomorrow.

We all send our best wishes to friends and family, wherever they may be right now.
(written by Peter Fry)