I woke up early to use the bathroom, and instead of crawling back into my bunk I stood staring out the window, mesmerized by the expanse of rolling hills. Towering mountains made a stunning backdrop. The sky above us seemed to be the brightest, bluest colour I had ever seen. We had left the smog of Jinan behind and were heading North!
Sonya, a Shandong local who had barely even been out of the province of Shandong before, and hadn’t even told her mother about the trip for fear of worrying her, was already up. “Good Morning,” she said turning away from the window, she had her phone out trying to take pictures, and her eyes had a bright spark. I recognized the look, she was feeling the first bight of the travel bug. Curiosity.
“Good morning,” I replied, joining her table. Katrina’s parents were up as well. I watched farmers choose chase herds of cows and sheep across open fields, feeling the pull of my own curiosity. I had a strong urge to leave Jinan and search for a job in one of these small villages.
After a while Sonya pulled out her bag which had more snacks then clothes in it. She kept trying to feed Hannah, Katrina’s mom, and when Hannah didn’t seem particularly interested in any of the offered snacks Sonya continued to open up package after package.
“If you open everything they will go bad.” Hannah tried to warn Sonya.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sonya replied. Hannah’s pile of forced snacks grew bigger and bigger.
I immediately liked our hostel. The staff was super friendly, the walls were covered in inner mongolian stuff. The rule was to take off your shoes at the door, which made the place feel even more like a home.
We were sharing a seven person dorm with our whole group, except Katrina and her parents who had requested their own room. The walls were covered in writing, drawings, and jokes, the favourite being “oooh baby make it yurt so good.” in reference to the traditional Mongolian Yurts.
We were starving, so we dropped off our suitcases and went down the road to find lunch. Had a delicious meal of Mongolian stew with Mongolian milk tea to wash it down. The Mongolian milk tea is very different then the sweet milk tea we’re used to. It’s almost salty! I’m not sure what to think of it.
We were planning to check out Hohehaote’s Mongolian history museum, but, after being turned away from museum in Nanjing, and another in Shanghai, both on mondays I’m beginning to sense a theme. The Mongolian museum was closed today. Instead we went shopping!
We got barbecue for dinner, and then collapsed in bed, exhausted and all in need of a good sleep. We were chatted deliriously until we dozed off.