Monday, 18 June 2012

Inner Mongolia

Apparently the Chinese military control some of the flight paths into Hohhot airport, and one of these routes happened to be ours.
Having had the opportunity to get to know Zeng Zhou airport well, we were finally called for the hour and a bit flight north.
I was looking forward to Inner Mongolia, the knowledge I would be getting a glimpse of a more mountainous area was exciting, and I longed for the chance to indulge my passion.
The approach to land the plane was well worth waiting for in itself, and stepping from the plane, into a clear, less humid and slightly cooler atmosphere was welcome. Checking the iPhone confirmed the altitude at just under 1100 meters.
A full programme of meetings and visits had been arranged, potato breeding facilities, sheep genetics, a detour to see some potatoes emerging under a pivot, pigs, dairies and a milk processing plant. It was absolutely state of the art, all robotic and automated, including the warehousing of the palletized end product. Gleaming stainless steel, the ability to process around 2000 tonnes per day, even a manicured lawn, the first I had seen at an industrial site, clashed as we drove out past road maintenance crews using shovels to fill potholes........

The scenery was stunning, the stark beauty of the ranges around, and probably closer than 50 km away in most directions, giving subtle hints as to the minus 20 degree winds and ice of winter.
Little snow accumulates, the rainfall is only 200 mm or so per anum, and if it were not for the ground water, there would be little to support the population.
The city has a modern feel, cleaner than most visited up till now, all the well known fashion and lifestyle brands being present.
Again, much of the new infrastructure had a somewhat rushed feel, as seen along much of our path through this rapidly growing country. I wonder how some of these roads and buildings will look in 10 tears time......

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