I'm afraid that if you're reading this blog in hopes of exotic places or beautiful scenes on par with my previous blog posts, you should stop now. This final blog post about Inner Mongolia will match the reality of our final day: not quite as cool as the days before. The Gobi desert is difficult to upstage.
Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, is not terribly different from most other cities its size in China. It retains small areas of charm in an increasingly meager old city and a few preserved temples, but most things have been torn up to make way for wider roads and huge skyscrapers. We enjoyed wandering around for a while, but one day was satisfactory.
Below you can see old and new posing nicely for me. Cars around the temples, and (pictured below) construction sites strategically dug around historic buildings and minor temple complexes provide an excellent visual summary of China's current state of development.
The best part of our time there was actually part of Hohhot's newest developments. We saw the Inner Mongolia Museum, and despite the bland title, it's the best museum I've seen in China. And that's a not a small number.
First of all, it's enormous and well-designed. The museum is probably about as big as the New Parliament House in Canberra, which I say because it looks oddly similar too.) The inside was even more impressive though. Among other things, it has a mind-blowing collection of dinosaur bones. I couldn't help thinking how big of a splash it would make in the US, compared with crowd-drawers like Sue the T-Rex or King Tut's tomb collection.
There were also many lovely Mongolian crafts and cultural artifacts, exhibits on the natural environment, history, and current development of the area. All in all, if you've got one day in Hohhot, spend at least half here.
That's all, until my next adventure.