We met our group outside a subway station at 8:00, and were on the road at 8:06. Fortunately, most of them spoke English, so it was very easy to get along. It was supposed to be a 4 hour drive.
At 11:15, we could see the Great Wall and were heading into mountains. Nowhere near the grassland we were going to.
|Yes, we were whizzing by in a van, but still, I love being able to get pictures.|
An hour later, we stopped for gas and to get snacks. Little did we know there were 2 1/2 hours to go! So much for a 4-hour trip.
We arrived at 3:00 to our "farm house." In these rural communities, they use tourism for income, so this was a working farm - actually, several in close proximity - that had each added facilities to house and feed several guests at once.
They fed us almost immediately. Probably because we were supposed to have arrived at 12 and begin riding at 3.
There were 12 of us around the table. It was good. Nothing new that we hadn't tried in Beijing, but good, and plenty of it.
At 3:30 we started getting on horses and ... well, it was really a guided walk, so not too exciting for those of us who'd ridden before, but pretty cool, and the landscape was nice... reminiscent of South Dakota.
|Just starting out. There were several farms before the grasslands.|
|Not people from our group.|
On our return to the guest house, some of us gathered in the dining room to play cards while awaiting the lamb that was being cooked for us. Kebabs of lamb, tofu, and chicken, with many sides leftover from lunch, but they made a big deal of the lamb. Apparently it was tasty. I did not partake, but the tofu was awesome!
I began to notice that my voice was fading. Now that I'm working for the publisher, my voice is very important! This week we will begin a social media group for parents to learn basic English to use at home with their kids, and I'm the voice to teach pronunciation. Plus, the next video shoot is this coming weekend. NOT a good time to lose my voice! So I determined to be careful not to speak too much the next day.
May 1 is the May Day Holiday in China, and that is why we had the long weekend and took this excursion. Today was the Great Kahn Palace and Bashang Grassland.
Brett and I rose early - work time - and went for a walk.
After breakfast of leftovers from yesterday - they really don't separate what's "breakfast food" here - we all wandered down to a small convenience store to buy foods for lunch - there really were no "lunch foods" so it was all snacks.
Then we loaded up and headed to the Great Kahn Palace. This was a summer, vacation palace of sorts, built by Genghis Kahn, and used for generations... so probably Khubalai Kahn used it, too. That's what I choose to believe. Anyway, here is a small sample...
|The entrance gate|
|The first structure that wasn't a gate - there were several.|
|What the HECK is a creepy clown doing here?|
|And Americans think the eagle is OUR symbol!|
|Throne room? Audience chamber?|
|A bedroom. Maybe the Kahn's? His wife's?|
|A maze. For entertainment. Not sure how authentic it is.|
|That Creepy Clown again! With FANGS!!|
|I got a close-up from the roof.|
And then we headed off for the grassland and ate our "lunch" in the van. It wasn't a long drive, and soon we were at Lightning Lake in the Bashang Grassland.
|Too early for boats, I got this from a grounded boat.|
And then we headed home.
|On the ride home. So pretty!|
I was hoping that the near 7 hour trip up was primarily a miscalculation due to the heavy traffic of people getting out of the city Sunday to take advantage of the holiday, but no. It took almost 7 hours, again. The organizers were not very organized to be honest, but I won't get into that here. It was a good trip overall.
I was going to combine this with the next prompt, but I think this is long enough. Glad to be home and trying to get back into a routine.