Not to be confused with Mongolia, Inner Mongolia is part of China. Both shared ancestral ethnic language and culture, but Inner Mongolia is very much localized by the Han Chinese where many Inner Mongolian can no longer read or write their ancient language. I’d also been asked if one would get altitude sickness when visiting Inner Mongolia. On the contrary, Inner Mongolia is vast wide plain fields which they are famous for. Yes they are littered with hills and mountains, but nothing like Tibet. It is actually quite a refreshing sight from the urban jungle where the land stretches out as far as your eyes can see.
We traveled by car throughout the trip, driven and taken care of by a local guide. We visited some main cities highlighted in red dots on the map. Many of the mesmerizing scenes was along the river as circled in red. The areas I visited were along the border of Russia. Technically, one could swim or walk across to Russia within minutes, but both sides are fenced up. In between the fences is a gorgeous river that slithers across the landscape.
Under generous government incentives, raising livestock or agriculture is a good option for a living. Often you see sheeps and cows in the hundreds or even thousands roaming the open fields. Occasionally, you will come across herds of horses and if you’re lucky, maybe even camels!
With so many cows, what puzzles me is that I’ve yet to taste good beef in China. If you walk into a good western restaurant in a first tier city, the best steaks are usually imports of USDA, Australian or Wagyu beef. I’ve yet to hear of good Chinese beef. Even the beef I tasted in Inner Mongolia, prepared in Chinese food, were mediocre. On the other hand, the lamb meat in Inner Mongolia is famous in China. They are tender and juicy, and with the right seasoning, an outright treat to the palate. BBQ whole lamb, skewered lamb and sliced lamb meat are all the favorite choices to try.
In the big cities, the buildings are heavily influenced by Russian architecture. It gives out a very western feel to the cities, as though I’m visiting Europe rather than China. Occasionally, we do meet locals that has Russian heritage. Even their bread has Russian flavors, and they are good!