Sunday, May 22, 2011

Qinghai in May

At least I made it to Qinghai lake. Visited with a Chinese tour operator and was the only non-Chinese on board the bus. The lake is at an altitude about 3000 meters and the locals are mostly Tibetans. The tourist spot has been changed into some kind of amusement park for Chinese. On the way, we stopped at Dangaer, whose old town has been rebuilt according to what it could have looked like centuries ago, and a street was full of small museums and tourist shops. We only stopped briefly at the temple of the sun and moon as the altitude of 4000 meters meant it was cold and windy, too much to be worth a visit. After one more night in Xining, I moved on to the Salar Autonomous County and the town of Xunhua. The local are of Turkic origins and on the bus I could hear more Turkic than Chinese spoken. Xunhua is a good place to visit a beautiful lake in the mountains, Tianchi, though in May it can still be cold and I experienced some snow showers during my visit. The Yellow River flows nearby and is still beautifully blue, not as polluted nor muddy yet as it is further downstream. The way back to Gansu led me to Linxia, the Mecca of China, through an awasome mountain pass.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mayday Business Trip

The traditional May Holiday trip for the foreign experts of Gansu took us to Tianshui, the second largest city of the province, half-way between Lanzhou and Xian. The city features some Taoist and Buddhist temples, a highlight were the grottoes of Maijishan. An unusual features was the visit to a research center for improving the production of vegetables, some of their seeds are sent into space for treatment by radiations and they seem to produce plants that better resist pests, or can grow larger.