We stayed in the city centre but had we arrived blindfolded we’d have thought we were on the Birdsville Track - in 1932. This is a city with seriously bad roads.
It is also a city with gaping holes where (and I’m guessing here) residential city blocks used to be. Based on construction projects around the city I would guess they are building another power station – or maybe a coal loading rail head?
We had a great time in Datong, visiting places we had never heard of that turned out to be spectacular – which kind of made up for our Terracotta Warriors mis-adventure (or should that be “missed-adventure”).
You see leaving ourselves 4 hours to get to the Warriors and see them before closing was apparently insufficient – I think our timing clashed with taxi driver shift changes and these poor hard worked souls weren’t interested in a bit of profit from us at the expense of missing a game of Mahjong and the first 2 Tsing Tao’s of the night.
Anyway the only option was going to cost the equivalent of 2 days car hire in Australia (seriously, for a 4 hour trip, only 2 hours driving). So we passed on the Warriors and wondered why people weren’t more interested in earning some easy money.
Meanwhile, back in Datong, the daily challenge for me was organizing train tickets. A visit to the station, some conversations in the business centre and some clear referrals by me to the internet in the presence of several staff failed to achieve anything. Their best advice “go to Beijing”! I explained that if a train stops at a station, it is likely that you can buy tickets for that train at the station – no, and worse still, apparently the trains I wanted ‘didn’t exist’. The detail is boring but basically, just to prove myself correct, we went to Hohhot (also spelt Hohaote, Ho He Hote and Huhhot), got the information we wanted and then made the decision and booked the tickets ourselves. Why the people in Datong couldn’t ring Hohhot station to get me the info I don’t know. But they were going out of their way to be helpful – they just don’t understand the concept of either independant travel or impromptu decision making.
We also remember Datong for not having a single ATM working that could handle international cards – iit is just a little town of only 3 million…..
So by bus to Hohhot 50km of empty freeway followed by 200km of freeway clogged with trucks of all types, all being pushed aside by our juggernaut express.
And then into Inner Mongolia, destination Mongolia.