The Green Green Grass

Nicholas Quirke was smirking on 11 July 2021 that as Beijing was under a severe weather warning he was enjoying a road trip romp in blue skies moderate temperature and sunshine. The perfect climatic conditions under which to see the wide open green landscapes of Inner Mongolia’s grasslands. They had a number of destinations before they reached their eventual overnight stop of Enhe. Once they had set off after a typical Chinese hotel breakfast it wasn’t long before the radiant colours of the vast expanse of grassland, only broken by road and the occasional cluster of yurts were to be savoured almost immediately they stopped the car to capture the green green grass and blue blue skies with dramatic flumes of white cloud. It was a really beautiful sight. The first stop was at Muyunshan Mountain a hill top resort with beautiful views of the river winding like a snake through the green landscape. It was hard to imagine that in winter these were white frozen plains like neighbouring Siberia. It hadtaken them a while to get in as though there was no charge to view the scenic spot you had to reserve entrance this was sorted quickly as Peng got his aunt on the case. This did not fully resolve the problem though as the autocratic gate keepers with an entry system that was a complete shambles held them up. It was worth it though for the great views, the descent, climb, frogs and camels. He even managed to record a live video for face book and posted it but due the lack of response he later checked it and discovered it had been sent to only one friend. There was quite a long drive along some of the worst roads he had been on in his life to their next location which, in the environs of the city of Ergun was a wetland park. The park was a little disappointing as it was an expensive price and you could only view the rivers from platforms halfway up the mountain. It didn’t help that they had bought self cooking hot pots for their lunch and he was unfortunately struck in the eye by a rouge noodle covered in the spicy sauce. Temporarily blinded by the experience he gave up on his lunch once Peng dismally ministered to his injury. They had walked the site rather than pay for the cart ride which meant they gave themselves a long walk in the sun along the main road they had entered upon. They were now headed towards Enhe which was a colonised Russian village and the only one that exists in China but before they reached their destination for the night they stopped At Bai Hua Lin Silver birch Forest which hauntingly was just that. It was a gorgeous sight of line upon line of white barked trees with no evidence of any other species. There were photo opportunities set up for people to get the perfect Instagram photo which people crowded round and they made sure they avoided these as much as they could and chose to take a rogue path through the wood. Peng had been before but had never been to see the view from above. If Nicholas had known what a long and hot climb was ahead of him he may not have bothered but he did and there was a sense of achievement at the top and it was definitely worth it. By the time they got back down the park was drawing to a close and all the concessions staff were leaving and the hitched a ride on the back of a cart to the entrance with them all. This left the drive to the Enhe Russian Ethnic Township the only ethnic township in China designated for China’s Russian minority. On arrival in the town which looked extraordinarily rural and like a scenes from a Tolstoy novel, Peng pointlessly indicated the police station. Little did he know that he would actually see inside the station as the hostel they were staying in whisked him away to register. The population of 2,339, is largely Russian and descended from mixed marriages dating back to 1890 of Han Chinese and Russian trees and indeed on their wander round the village despite speaking mandarin he observed that some of the people in the township did look purely Russian. Records of marriages between Chinese and Russians in the region date back to the 1890s from the beginning of Russian colonization of Manchuria and nlike the conventional colonial marriage pattern of Western men marrying native women, the predominant combination in Manchuria was between Russian women and Chinese men. In addition to Russian and Han Chinese populations, Enhe is also home to significant Mongol, Hui, Manchu, Korean, Daur, Oroqen, and Evenk populations. He soaked in the atmosphere of this purely village life and tried to ignore the neon lights of the restaurants that he encountered. But looking at the unspoilt homes and the lack of modern buildings and the people selling food and nick knacks he could almost imagine himself in 1890 colonised china. It was a remote spot and the lack of strong WiFi caused him blog problems and he went to sleep agitated by the technology of rural village life.


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