It’s the day I’ve been waiting for – the day when I would finally get to interact with a camel!!!!!!!!! *excitement*
Our plan for the third day in Inner Mongolia was to camp out in the Kubuqi desert, but our tour guide insisted on going a little later in the day to escape the heat, which sounded like a pretty smart move.
Saihantala Ecological Park
Our tour guide wanted to rest (poor thing, driving really takes a lot of out of you) so he wrote down the name of a local park, and sent us on our way. We spent some time at Saihantala Park, which is located in the middle of Baotou city.
Half of our group wanted to rent tandem bikes; the other half just wanted to walk. We ended up walking because some of the girls thought that “white girls on tandem bikes would attract EVEN MORE attention” lol. They were already getting quite a few stares/not-so-subtle pictures taken of them.
Many locals were jogging or walking their dogs. We happened upon a community event, where families and children were playing tug of war. How nice to have such a beautiful area to enjoy in the middle of the city! There was also a small petting zoo area with deer (moose?), and a large field of flowers, as shown in the pictures below.
After lunch, we headed to the Kubuqi Desert. First, we stopped by a supermarket to buy snacks and dinner. I also stocked up on wet wipes and sunscreen because it seemed like I might need it. Next, our tour guide picked up the necessary camping gear from a site near the edge of the desert. We were a bit alarmed because at the site there was a pen with camels inside, and the camels looked super raggedy and just awful. We had camel-riding on our itinerary, and we were worried that we would be riding these camels, who all looked sad and dirty.
It turns out that those camels were shedding – they were healthy and their visual defects were temporarily. It’s ok camels, we all have those days 🙂
Next, we all piled into a desert jeep.
The ride into the desert was SO MUCH FUN – we were going up and down over the sand dunes at high speed. It was like a roller coaster ride! Unfortunately, I probably lost more than a few fake eyelashes in the process 😦
Finally, we arrived at our campsite and set up our tents:
In case you’re wondering, there are no restrooms here. (Hello? It’s the middle of the desert!) Here’s what you do:
- Climb over a sand dune, to a place where nobody else can see you.
- Do your business.
- Erase the evidence by kicking sand over it! 🙂
Our tour guide had arranged camel rides for us. I was VERY excited. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know that I love animals!
So the camel handler came over with 6 camels for each of us, and we got on, one by one. To get on a camel, you must first lean back (as the camel gets on his hind legs), then lean forward (as the camel gets on his front legs). It can be tricky so I suggest letting your friends go first and learning through observation.
By the way, my inner thighs and butt bone were SO SORE the next day, but apparently nobody else was 😦 I guess I have a really sensitive butt. But I think I was also slightly nervous about falling off, so I was squeezing my legs really hard. 😀
Like the jeep ride, it’s slightly scary when the camel walks up and down a sand dune, because you’re suddenly tilted forwards or backwards. Dang, camel riding is hard work! I hope I got a good ab workout out of trying to balance myself on the camel. 😛
Our next activity was sand-sliding! We climbed on top of a large sand dune, and saw that these sleds were waiting for us:
It’s just like sledding in the snow, except you’re sledding in the sand! I only went once because I am extremely lazy and did not want to suffer the climb back up the dune while carrying the sled. (Like walking in the snow, walking in the sand is TOUGH because your feet keep sinking in.)
We spent the rest of the evening listening to music, dancing, and just hanging out. It was really fun and I’m happy that I got to enjoy this trip with such wonderful company!
At night, we laid on the sand and watched the stars. Here, away from light pollution (and… air pollution), the stars literally dot the night sky. It’s not unusual to spot shooting stars – my friends saw one, but I wasn’t paying attention, so I missed it 😦 *anguished cry*
While chilling out at night, we saw a car come over from beyond the dunes. It wasn’t one of the hardcore desert jeeps that drove us out here, so it got stuck in the sand. I guess it sent out for help, so soon, another car came to its aid, and THAT CAR GOT STUCK TOO! What makes the whole thing super ironic was that these two cars were both rescue cars that came out to fetch someone who was in the desert, but they both ended up getting stuck themselves. (Don’t worry, everyone was okay!)
In conclusion… I had an amazing time camping out in the Inner Mongolian desert, riding camels, and bonding with my girlfriends. Without internet access (or indoor plumbing…), we were able to simply enjoy the view and each other’s company. I will cherish these memories forever 🙂