Transportation here in Baotou is a mix of the familiar and different, the old and new.
Sometimes we get so focussed on the unusual that we neglect the ordinary, like this tree-lined street with cars in the morning rush hour waiting for the light to turn green -- it could almost be Houston, except for the sign in Chinese.
Electric bicycles are very popular here and more are sold every day. Typically, the rechargeable battery is good for about 20 km and there are also pedals if you run out of juice.
Bikes and e-bikes here are transportation, not recreation. Dressed for work and with high heels -- you'd never see this at home.
The bigger scooters are also mostly electric, and we sometimes see a whole family riding -- father and two children wait for mother to finish an errand and hop back on.
Tricycle carts move some incredible loads here, and most are also electric.
And there's still an occasional donkey cart in the mix of traffic. Taxis are very common, and you never call for a ride, just flag one down -- affordable too, short trips about $1, about $3 to the train station and $8 to the airport. They run on CNG to keep the air clean.
But people aspire to high-end SUV's, and there are plenty of those here too. So old and new, familiar and different, China is on the move.
Daniel turned 63, and the students surprised him with a birthday party in class.
A 3 layer cake, no less, decorated as a cup of coffee -- these students know my weakness. Coffee isn't so popular here, and what there is is mostly instant, but there are real coffee restaurants which tend to be expensive relative to usual Chinese fare.
The cake came with a goofy hat which of course I had to wear for a class photo.
And it was my job to cut the cake, a messy business but it did all get eaten, albeit with some second helpings.
Well, not quite all eaten exactly, the icing was popular for smearing on faces, especially other's faces, and naturally this escalated. I managed to get photos, but with sticky fingers and a sticky camera.
The students said this was the first party like this they'd had since coming to college, and it got pretty energetic -- I wondered what the people passing in the hall must have thought.
But eventually everyone washed up and we got on with the lesson, which included a student group teaching a segment on an updated Lady Godiva story, with discussion questions for their classmates. We're impressed with how much more sophisticated these students are now than when we first saw them last fall.