Later several people suggested that I take a trip to the grasslands so that I might get a better feel for the language and the culture. In Huhhot the language of the majority is still Mandarin, even for the Mongols, consequently the language environment is not so conducive to speaking Mongolian. I made up my mind to pursue the idea and began making preparations, my plans were to stay for one month. The date was set and I purchased my plane ticket to Xilinghot, the banner seat of Xiling Gool.
After arriving at the Huhhot airport preparing to board the plane I had no expectations but to experience life with a Mongol family on the grasslands of Xiling Gool. In my mind I was trying to imagine what it will be like, of course, to no avail. The plane was a small military motiongate tickets prop plane which seated approximately 50 persons, there were maybe eight passengers scattered through out the the plane. After taking off we rumbled over the Da Qing Shan mountain range and on into the small grassland town of Xilinghot.
I was met at the airport by the family of a friend in Huhhot and they immediately took me to have some traditional milk-tea and mutton at a small tea-house in town. The next day I was to be picked up by the people from East Ujemchin where I would be staying, however it started to rain incessantly for a couple days and the dirt roads in and out of the area were impassable. I could do nothing but wait out the rain. On the fifth day the jeep from Ujemchin finally arrived to whisk me off to what was almost seeming to be a “never-never land”.
We drove for a couple hours on the winding asphalt roads out of Xilinghot until finally we came to the end of the asphalt. One look at the rain damaged dirt roads and I could see we were in for a bumpy ride. The jeep strided its way through it all as we passed several camels losing their winter coats, and a few white Mongol Ger (yurts) off in the distance against the budding green grassland hills of spring. The curiosity and excitement made me feel like I was I kid again, off to my first day at school. This was going to be a much different kind of education than I had ever imagined and one that I would never forget.