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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Alone in Xining

Do you know anybody who knows anything about Xining? I heard a thing or two and I wanted to come here, it was on our way to Lhasa. Against all logic, the train tickets to Lhasa are sometimes harder to obtain and more expensive, but still, it is the only logical connection. The other options that might have worked for us would have been Beijiing, Shanghai, Chengdu or Xian. The trains from Xian leave between 6 and 10 am and I didn't want that long day on the train. We spent the night instead and arrived in Xining in the morning. A private cab offered to take us to our hotel. It would be a great experience, we rode for a long time and at one point, with the rising sun in front of us, the driver stopped the car in the middle of the road and tried to take a picture on his cheap cellphone. We couldn't believe it! When we found the three star hotel, the reaction of the reception staff was somewhat disconcerting. It was like they never saw another tourist before! At least not a white, western tourist. We booked the hotel on a chinese booking site because there wasn't any option on other websites. It was a strange feeling to be unable to have any sort of communication. After a while I started to look for just one white person. Officially - I declare that I did not see any caucasian in these 48 hours, since the train station in Xian, 900 km away.
Ileana has been sick and decided to stay inside. The children were given options and they still decided to stay inside. On the first day I walked around the center of the city, without even taking the camera.

With 2.2 million people, this might seem like a small village by Chinese standards, but wherever someone looks it is a construction site with huge high rise buildings. The brochure from the hotel claims this is the summer vacation spot for the whole China, with perfect weather and multiple attractions. My one guide mentions some attractions, 150 km away, too cold to even consider a trip there. Lonely Planet on iBookStore crashes constantly so its useless. I made a plan on my second day, I offered the children the option to come they declined again. I visited this city alone and I liked it.

I was the only visitor at the Giant Mosque, I paid admission, but I could only enter the yard. It is beautiful, 700 years old, it seemed small to me, but they say it's big. The front part was rebuilt recently. There is a sizable muslim minority in this part of China and you can see it on the surrounding streets.

Dongguan Giant Mosque

Nobody told me that the Nanshan park is closed for the season, I sneaked in and out, but it was worth the trouble. The brochure said it's flat, but should have said "at the top of the mountain, there is a little flat area". There is an old mosque about the top and an big empty white building right on the top. There is an amusement park on an adjacent hill. At the bottom of the mountain, another Buddhist temple.

In the evening the children agreed to come with me for a few minutes. This is Xining at night, at least downtown.

1 comment:

  1. Salut Mihai. So what have you seen in Xining besides the Mosque? Did you go to the Market, to the Provincial Museum, the Beishan Si (North Mountain Temple) or may be Mengda Nature Reserve (located 190 km southeast from Xining, in the mountains above Yellow River. You'll be close to Heaven, Heaven Lake that is a sacred lake for Salar Muslims and Tibetan BUDDHISTS. The SALAR have their origins in Samarkand (on the Silk Road fame) and speak a very isolated Turkic language (same family of languages with Hungarian, Finnish, Turkish). This MENGDA NATURE RESERVE is about 5 hours , by bus, away from Xining. The next thing you may want to do or may be not is the town of Golmud (14 hours by train from Xining). You want to go there if you want to leave China proper and get overland into Tibet .Town is booming because of mining and oil drilling ( I don't know how the old Romanian towns of Ploiesti looked like at the beginning of industrial journey. Any how the big claim to glory is the construction of train line to Lhasa. So do tell what was a thing or two about Xining that you knew. For now you kind of puzzled me. You could keep me posted or ask me things as aI have a whole stacks of books on places that you have been or will be. Cu drag, admiratie, mindrie ca va cunosc si dorinta de a va ura numai bine. I hope Ileana is getting better. What a miserable place to be( how did the acupuncture work and how the old fashioned VENTUZE in Romanian work?) Is that an alternative medicine that you guys had to experience many miles away from USA or for that matter Romania?. A propos of laundry places there is a good laundry place near Post Hotel in Xining. That's that.So there.
    Elena Richards Rochester NY USA


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