Last week I went on my CAS week trips (Community Action Service). I might have mentioned it on one of my posts. But for those people who don’t know what CAS week is, CAS week is where my school hosts trips for Upper School and you get a choice of going to different locations for a week. This year in Gr.7, we had a choice of going to Inner Mongolia, Taiwan and Thailand. I chose Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia is not Mongolia, it is a state region in China, the reason why it was called Inner Mongolia is because the main reason is that there are a lot of Mongols (Mongolians) in this region, and this is where Mongolians mix with Chinese. We went their for 6 days total, 5 days in Inner Mongolia and 1 day in Beijing, because there was no direct flight to Chifeng (the city we went to), so we had to go to Beijing, and transfer to Chifeng.
On day 1, it was mostly traveling, first a flight from Hong Kong to Beijing, then transfer from Beijing to Chifeng. One of the challenge I faced on that day was the delay of the flight from Hong Kong – Beijing, so we had to rush for the transfer flight. Our accommodation was a hotel, it was quite nice, had hot water and it was much better then I thought.
On day 2, we went to a local school, it wasn’t a ordinary local school, it was a school for gifted children and for those that are really talented, we were separated into 3 groups and each had their own activity. But we didn’t had the chance to do all. For us, we painted masks, one of the challenges we had was painting the mask and not smudging it into other colors, that would make the paint job sloppy. I forgot to mention, we had our guides who were part of a group called The Hutong, our guides were all from different places, one of them was from Estonia! II didn’t even know that country even existed. But anyway after the school activities, we went up hiking on a mountain. On top there was a buddhist statue, it looked very pretty. At the top, you could see the city skyline. At the bottom, you could see the statue clearly because of the white marble they used to carve it. The challenge I faced was that we had to walk a lot plus I had a terrible headache, so it just sort of bothered me. In Inner Mongolia, the weather is really cold compared to Hong Kong, like at night it’s around below 10˚c which would be equivalent to the coldest winter night in HK.
The 3rd day, we had a scavenger hunt in a city called Wudan, that means that we set off on the highway which was about 2 hours drive. One thing I found quite weird about the locals is when we drive past them on a tour bus or stand and huddle on the street or walk on the street, they would stare at us for while, some would take pictures, some would follow us like some sort of celebrity, anyway when we went to the Wudan scavenger hunt, it wasn’t really a scavenger hunt but it was interesting, we tried some local dumplings. We looked for some specific things and sketched it on our hand books that the Hutong gave us. After we went to the YuLong dessert, we had different activities, we first hiked up a sand dune, one of the challenges I faced was going up the sand dune because the slopes were really steep so when you go up, your shoe kind of sinks in to the sand. Also there was wind blowing, like not a breeze but a gust of wind blowing, and it practically lift the sand up and you could see the sand moving with the wind. Also had to put on my mouth cloth so that sand doesn’t get in my mouth and nose and eyes. After the hike we had a camel ride. I didn’t face any challenges while riding the camel and I thought it was really fun. We also did a couple more activities but those two was the most fun activities we had. After that, we went to our home stays, we faced some challenges in the home stays, like our home stay, we had no toilet, so we had to just go outside. Also we had to sleep on concrete slabs with thin mattresses, also we had to share one bed with four people. But the bed was quite big so we had our personal space. I had trouble sleeping, and then my partner I shared my bed with, he woke me up for no reason I was really angry at him because it was really hard trying to fall asleep. But the food they served us was excellent. Most of the food was excellent when we ate, we tried different things and the local food and it was mostly good.
On day 4, we left our home stays and went to the grasslands, our highlight was staying at the yurts. We had to take a 4 hour drive to a lake, we had a photo challenge, one of the challenges I faced was my camera had low battery and it would occasionally die and restart again, so I have to off the camera for about 1 minute and turn it on and take a picture really fast before it dies. But in the end, it worked out ok. We then visited a wind power plant, it was really windy and cold and I think I had 1st degree frostbite. Then we left for our yurts, at night we had a bon fire party, then we headed back to the yurts. This time we had a toilet but no shower so we didn’t shower for 2 days and there was no hot water. Inside the yurts, it was really cold.
On day 5, we did archery, folk dancing, wrestling and whip making at the yurt camps, I didn’t really faced challenges on this day, we went back to Chifeng to catch our flight to Beijing, the bus ride took 4 hours. We stayed at a hotel and tank god they had hot water so I can shower.
The last day we went back to Hong Kong, I thought this trip was really fun and I learned a lot in this trip.