What is Inner Mongolia?
Inner Mongolia (called Nei Menggu in Chinese) forms part of China. On this Web site you can read all about Outer Mongolia--an independent country. However, since China is my next door neighbor it would be rude to ignore this province completely . . .
Inner Mongolia curves like a banana around China's northern border (see the shaded green area on the map). Dominated by China, Mongolian culture has all but disappeared. To find REAL Mongolian culture you will have to travel deep into the countryside . . .
So what should I see and do?
You can see two things throughout the region--from the grasslands and forests of the east to the deserts of the west . . .
(1) First prize goes to the nomads. Living in their traditional felt tents they epitomize the REAL Mongolia. Here you will find: fermented mare’s milk; traditional long songs; wild nature--the list goes on . . . You really must visit the countryside to meet these people.
Try and visit during the Naadam Festival. During Naadam you can watch the nomads competing in: wrestling, horse racing and archery. If you’re fortunate, you may get to taste a whole roasted lamb cooked the Mongolian way!
(2) The Great Wall comes second. Ironically built to keep the nomads and Genghis Khan out, it stretches across 1,500 kilometers of the province.
Take care when traversing the non-touristy parts of the wall. Large parts of the wall have fallen into disrepair. No one will rescue you if you get into trouble!
The capital of Inner Mongolia is called Hohhot--a good place to find a guide and stock up before heading off in the countryside.
As far as seeing the REAL Mongolia in the cities--you can almost forget it. Tourist traps abound in the cities and their surrounding areas.
The cities do have one thing in more abundance--the Mongolian script. Outer Mongolia stopped using the script during a seventy-year period of Soviet influence. But the script lives on in Inner Mongolia which remains under Chinese control.
Was Genghis Khaan buried in Inner Mongolia?
A Mausoleum about 185 kilometers south of Baotou claims to contain his clothing. However, no one knows the location of his grave. We do know that his body was carried well within the borders of Outer Mongolia by his troops. Trampled on by a thousand horses we may never know the exact location.
But he was born there, right?
No, no, and did I say--NO. The Chinese, Koreans and Japanese have all claimed Genghis Khan as their own. Sound strange? Maybe to Westerners who have long-considered Genghis a bloodthirsty tyrant. In Asia, however, he’s a hero everyone wants as their own.
The historical records place his birthplace well inside the borders of Outer Mongolia.
How do I get around?
To get into the real Mongolia you will need a Mongolian speaking guide . . .
Without one you will be LOST like never before!
Sokol Tours operates in both Inner and Outer Mongolia.
to visit their Web site.
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