A panoramic view of the Daqing Mountain range, situated to the north of Hohhot and spanning more than 240 kilometers from east to west. Photos by Wang Kaihao / China Daily
An autumn excursion into the foothills surrounding a city can yield quite a few surprises. Wang Kaihao ventured out of Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and got up close and personal with nature.
People living in cities so easily miss the natural possibilities on their doorstep. I have lived in Hohhot for more than six months now, and whenever I got stuck in traffic jams, I would stare northward at the Daqing Mountain range beyond the city limits. Daqingshan means "the great green mountain" and it has supplied Hohhot with numerous legends since time immemorial, as well as giving the city its name, which means "the green city" in Mongolian. It was only recently that I actually visited the area, joining some colleagues from Beijing on a journey into the foothills in search of an organic lamb farm.
As we labored up the winding roads into the hills, I was struck by the beauty of the area, which had previously been no more to me than a backdrop to the city skyline.
The verdant hills were nothing like the slightly dusty facades one sees from the city. The air was fresh, carrying the scent of pine trees and wildflowers growing on the slopes. We were fortunate to have a bright, sunny day, with shifting powder-puff clouds casting shadows on the rolling hills.
"I would have called it the 'great gray mountain' 10 years ago," notes our driver, a native of Hohhot. "There were just rocks everywhere."
It says a lot for the municipal government that its large-scale forestry projects over the past few years have turned things around. Today, the Daqing Mountain range lives up to its ancient name once more.