Welcome to On the Road in Inner Mongolia, part of WildChina’s “On the Road” collection of blog posts. I am just back from my trip to Baotou, Hohhot, and the Xilamuren Grasslands (more on these later), and hope to give you a glimpse at how we at WildChina experience China differently in this province, as well as all over China, through the day-to-day activities on my trip. In addition to my blog posts, I will be posting multimedia updates to show you where I’ve gone and what I’ve done. Enjoy!
Now, onto my travels:
On Day 1 of my journey with my colleague and Beijing guide Shirley, we boarded an evening train at Beijing’s South Railway Station to Baotou, Inner Mongolia.
Trains in China are an integral part of Chinese travel. They are cheap, convenient, far-reaching, and generators of social interaction. Our 13-hour ride was a great start to our week of travel together.
At around 8 pm, Shirley and I settled into our hard sleeper beds – thin bunks that are 6 to a section – for the evening. As the night went on, we chatted in English and Chinese about our backgrounds and our work at WildChina – she, a longtime guide, and I, the Beijing office marketing associate.
My one-on-one time with Shirley in the confines of the train car enabled us to build both a strong personal and guiding relationship before arriving in Inner Mongolia. As travel in China can at times be unpredictable and difficult, guide chemistry is crucial to leading a successful trip through delegation of tasks, staying flexible according to clients’ needs, and problem-solving when necessary. Shirley has worked with us for a few years now; she has great perspective on travel and a magnetic, easygoing personality. I was sure she would make a very personable co-leader.
At 6 am the next morning, Tuesday, June 7, Shirley and I woke up on the train in Baotou, ready to lead our week-long trip.
Photo credit: Hard Sleepers of Sleeper Train