Another Weekend around Hohhot: 3 April 2005

Tomb of Wang Zhaojun, Dazhao temple again, and street/alley scenes in old part of Hohhot

This Sunday (3 April 2005) my fellow foreign teachers Jane and Brian and I again visited some tourist sites in and near Hohhot. Since some of you replied indicating you enjoyed my account of last week's adventures, I thought I'd prepare something similar about today's trip.

Our original plan was to visit a temple northwest of the city that Brian and Jane's guidebook said was in an interesting landscape. When none of the taxi drivers or other people we asked seemed to have any idea how to get there, however, we decided instead to visit the tomb of Wang Zhaojun, located about 10 kilometers south of Hohhot. We thought we had arranged for a taxi to take us there on the meter, but a little ways outside of town the taxi driver pulled up to a bus stop and, after much confusion, the final result is that he was apparently telling us that it would be much cheaper for us to take a bus from there than for him to drive us the rest of the way. Of course, it would have been even cheaper for us to have taken the same bus from within Hohhot itself, but I guess the 14 yuan (under $2.00) taxi fare to the more distant bus stop could be considered a consulting fee for getting us onto the proper bus!

At any rate, after a crowded but mercifully short bus ride, we arrived at the tomb, which consisted of the tomb itself, located atop a small but prominent hill and surrounded by a small park. I expect the park looks much better later in the spring, but the hill did offer interesting views of the surrounding countryside.

According to my guidebook, the tomb is the "final resting place of the imperial concubine who brought peace to the Han Dynasty. In 33 BC, the fearsome Hun chieftan extended an olive branch by proposing a marriage alliance with the Han. Wang Zhaojun, languishing at the bottom of the concubine hierarchy, volunteered. Noting her unflattering portrait, the Han emperor agreed, but little did he know she had been too proud to bribe the imperial painter. When Wang Zhaojun entered the palace to be handed over to the chieftan, the emperor gasped for he had never seen such beauty, but it was too late. The emperor could only watch glumly as the chieftan swung Zhaojun onto his horse and rode off into the sunset. As the 'queen' of the Huns, Wang Zhaojun used her influence to encourage peace between her homeland and her adopted home. The Huns did not try to attack again for 50 years." (text from Let's Go China, © 2005 by Let's Go, Inc.)

In the park below the tomb Jane tried to snap a quick picture of Brian on an old wagon, apparently there for just that purpose. As soon as he climbed on the wagon, however, a vendor quickly appeared advising that there was a 5 yuan fee. Brian agreed to pay the fee when he learned that it also included this colorful costume. Apparently he agreed too quickly, however, for once he was in costume the vendor decided it was another 5 yuan to pose on the wagon itself. He declined to pay the additional amount, so is in costume but standing in front of, rather than on, the wagon.

On the way back, the bus dropped us just south of Dazhao temple, which I had visited and reported on last weekend. Since Jane and Brian had not yet seen it, however, I paid a second visit together with them. I took a few more pictures, but not too much new except sneaking one photo inside a smaller temple that did not have, at least in English, a "no photography" sign, and this photo of me with my colorful friends to prove that, yes, I actually am here and am not just stealing these photos from elsewhere on the Internet!

After visiting the temple, we strolled down the old and interesting street nearby that I had mentioned last week. As I'm getting a bit bolder with the camera around people, this time I took quite a few photos of interesting street scenes (1 2 3 4 5 6) and alley scenes (1 2 3 4 5 6)

Way past time for sleep. Goodnight, all!



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