Xilamuren Grassland, Batou (deer) city, is about 80 km away from Hohhot (huhehato in Chinese), but it takes more than 2 hrs (by bus) to cross the hilly terrain, and rural roads. We passed through a “ghost town” (told many such projects in China), in the sense of no residents or commercial activity there. Purchasers of properties there could only weep, and the banks who loaned out vast sum of money to build such projects would never recover them.
Xilamuren Grassland is one of the earliest to develop as a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the environment has been destroyed, and we are partly responsible. Rubbish were thrown around the tourist camp.
The grass is sparse, and the animals are thin and underfed. There are some fenced Reserved Grass land for winter. Despite the desertification, the beauty of the plateau, with its undulating hills beyond, are attractive enough. The inspiration are the blue sky and white clouds. I sat for the whole afternoon watching the changing patterns of the clouds with amazement.
There are two types of Mongolian yurts around: the more authentic traditional yurts, and the modern air conditioned ones with attached shower and toilets, powered by solar. Sentiments aside, my request for the modern yurts were upgraded. Despite this, the power was off at 5 am, when the temperature dropped to almost zero. The cold was too much for me to bear, despite 4 – 5 layers of clothing. I got a chill, and later some mild food poisoning, and it took me some 3 days to recover, with horrors of experiences in Chinese toilets, with no papers and water, but they were much improved compared with yester years.