A few days ago, I just came back from the trip in “China＋α” (I will get into “α” shortly).
This country is indeed huge and has long history of more than 3,000 years. But the notion of the country for China is not as simple as other nations.
Also, since I am a train/bus lover over subway/airplane because the former allows you to see the landscape. This time, I traveled about 3,000km on the road (by train, bus or mini van) from Hong Kong (special adiminstrative region of China) to Beijing, Inner Mongolia (autonomous region in China) and to Ulaanbaatr (Mongolia, a country).
So in this blog, I will write about just one piece of this country with 3,000＋ years’ history as well as how I made that 3,000km road trip.
【1】3,000＋ years of Chinese history
Of course, instead of explaining the detail of Chinese history, I will just describe one component of the consecuense of the history, in particular how complicated the Chinese territory and independent districts are.
Before that, I think this one minute youtube video might be helpful to see how China became what it is now.
【China – 3,000 Years of History in a Minute】
So, this time, I visited my brother in Hong Kong, the city which used to be a colony of England. This city has quite a lot to see and eat (very important!) because it consists of several islands. Then I went to Macau, which was also a special administrative region as Hong Kong, and was conquered by Portugal (you see Portuguese everywhere) .
Then I headed towards Inner Mongolia through Beijing. People there spoke both Chinese and Mongolian. What was interesting to me was that their written Mongolian is traditional Mongolian (vertical writing), which was not influenced by ex-Soviet Union as the one in the country of Mongolia (Cyrillic Alphabet).
Hong Kong, Macau and Inner Mongolia. These cities have something in common: They are part of China but have less characteristic than other mainland cities, and people there don’t regard themselves as Chinese. In addition, the country doesn’t treat them the way they treat other Chinese residence. That’s what I saw in my eyes in my trip.
For example, Hong Kong people cannot stay in many hotels of China due to a lack of Chinese residence card.
To go from Hong Kong to Beijing, there is an immigration pass just like an airport.
Inner Mongolian regard themselves as Mongolian.
There are some photos from my trip.
One of the world best 3 night views in Hong Kong
Just a beautiful flower I came across
Beijing is just a big city
Inner Mongolia has Chinese and 2 different written Mongolian alphabets
【2】 3,000 km road trip
Now, I will briefly explain about how I made 3,000 km road trip. Here is the map I made.
1. Train (Hong Kong to Beijing)
The train runs every other day from Hung Hom (紅磡) station in Hong Kong to Beijing West station, and the schedule changes every month (e.g. in July, every even day and June odd day).
It has 3 different type of seats and the better the seat, the more expensive: (1) deluxe comfort seat for 2 people with door, (2) soft seat for 4 people with door and (3) hard seat for 6 people without door. I took the second one and it costed me around 950 HonG Kong dollar (approx. 120 USD). To be honest, it was very comfortable, and luckily, I just had one roomy so it was technically same as the first type of seat!
2. Night bus from Beijing to Erenhot (Inner Mongolia, Chinese side of border with Mongolia).
You have other option than bus, which is to take international train from Beijing to Mongolia, but it’s running only 1-2 times a week. Also, if you go to Eren Hot by train, you get there in the night time, therefore you have to stay 1 night (there was almost nothing to see in Eren Hot so you might want to avoid this).
That’s why I took a night bus which would run everyday and arrive at Eren Hot in the morning so that you can cross the border on the same day.
Price: 180 Chinese Yuan (around 30USD)
Time: every day 15:50-7:00 (木樨園bus terminal（木樨園長途客汽車站）)
The bus sheet (bed) was also comfortable
3. short mini van ride from Eren Hot to Zamin Ud (Mongolian side of border with China)
You might think crossing the border is pretty easy, and usually it is. But this border is not the case, because you cannot cross the border by walking, so you have to find a car which crosses the border.
At the bus station of Eren Hot, there are many mini van/Jeep drivers who offer you a ride to Zamin Uud.
Price: the basic rate is 60-80 Chiese Yuan (10-12 USD).
Time: 1-3 hour (In my case, as soon as I arrived the bus station, I booked the mini van, but since the immigration gate opens at 9, I had to wait in a hostel of the driver).
You cannot arrive this border on foot.
4. Train from Zamin Uud to Ulaanbaatar (Capital of Mongolia)
This town has nothing but a train station, so you have to kill your time until the train for Ulaanbaatar leaves at 18:00 (I got there at 10:30.)
Price: 35,000 MNT (around 18 USD)
Time: 15 hours
The train is pretty old school, but it was nice (albeit less nicer than the one between Hong Kong-Beijing since there is no AC).
Well, it was a tough but fun trip.
From this time, I learned that:
China is very huge but the situation of this country with 3,000+ years of history is not simple at all.
Traveling 3,000 km on the road allowed me to connect with new people and to have insight about the country.