One of the trips we took in Hebei Province was to what our hosts called a grasslands. We thought it was a nature preserve with animals similar to what you would see at a zoo with a natural setting. The reality is far from this. We travelled a couple hours north to the Mongolian border climbing to a height of about 4200 feet.
We were then taken into a yurt where we were treated like royalty. Traditional foods were awaiting us in the yurt. There were goat cheeses, a dry meat of some kind, a spicy vegetable, and a drink was poured that appeared to be warmed milk, but with a different taste. When I added toasted seeds of some kind it was drinkable. Oh, there was also a pastry that was quite good and small, hard cookies that were also good. They performed traditional dances, played music on traditional instruments, and sang Mongolian songs. They also gave each one of us a beautiful white scarf after we blessed the heavens, the earth, crossed our hand on our forehead and drank a shot glass of a very fiery local liquor.
Like most of our activities in China, there was too little time devoted to this visit. The people were warm and truly interested in learning about us as we were them, but there just wasn’t the time. All too soon we had to leave, driving by the feisty, tethered ponies, saddled camels, and grasslands with grass that grows to be four feet tall in the fall.