Inner Mongolia’s biggest and bleakest city, BAOTOU’s primary significance is as the chief iron- and steel-producing centre in China: if you’re arriving at night from the direction of Yinchuan, your first glimpse of the city is likely to be of satanic fires burning in the great blast furnaces, and the sky over the western half of Baotou glows a more or less permanent yellow, orange and purple. For visitors, there can be something magnificent about Soviet ugliness on such a scale, but otherwise, apart from providing a springboard to a few distant sights – including Wudangzhao, an attractive Tibetan-style monastery, and what is possibly Genghis Khan’s Mausoleum – Baotou has nothing to offer.

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