shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Running about QingHai Plateau Part 1 of 2


More photos in Flickr collection "Running about QingHai Plateau

QingHai Plateau is a very high plateau next to Tibet.
My Taiwanese friends decided on this trip a few months ago. When I met them in Taiwan in June this year, I was told of this pending trip and accepted my request to be included in that trip. I knew roughly a mini bus would be chartered and we be off on a roam about the highlands of China starting from Xining.

AQinghai 00 Overall

Since I was semi retired and with more time then them, I had to tailor my time to their trip. They planned to be in Xining on Sunday 18 Aug 2013 and be flying off on Sunday 25 Aug 2013. So I planned to be into Xining on the 17 Aug and flying off on 26 Aug 2013. It was not possible to match their time as they would be flying into Taiwan and I be flying to Singapore.

So it was on 17 Aug I flew to Beijing and then caught the flight to Xining arriving at about 9 pm.
The last time I was in China was back in 1999. I expected Xining to be a sleepy little town and got a shocked as the bus from the airport took me into a huge city city. 40 to 50 floors of apartment blocks greeted me. They were lighted up as if electricity was free. Bright glowing lights almost as bright as laser lights and hurting my eyes were on the apartment blocks with each screaming out I GOT MONEY TO THROW and answered by yet other developements that I GOT MONEY TO THROW AS WELL.

I eventually got to the hostel, Qinghai Hengyu International Youth Hostel, where we all would meet up at
No.13 Ma Bufang Mansion, Weimin Street.

I was the first there and was given a bunk bed in a room with 10 bunks. The rooms segregated by sex and communal baths and toilets located separately. Luckily the very hot summer was over.
Mosquitoes came. But with others there, I could not light mosquito coil. Eventualy I got to sleep.
Got up the next morning to find the windows were sealed shut which I thought was a bit strange. All in all, this hostel was acceptable and a lot better than the hotels I remembered in China in mid 90s. But then the hotels would cost about 10 to 25 RMB a night and this hostel bunk bed cost me 50 RMB.

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Weimin street

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Xining was too huge a place to run about given my extra day. I would be contented just to stay in the hostel and wait for my friends.

But I went out for breakfast and found next door was the Ma BuFang Mansion and which was a tourist attraction. I had to go in and found that Ma Bu Fang was one of the Chinese warlords and wiki said this of him

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This was kept in the way it was, a Nationalist stronghold which it was.

I then found why the hostel windows could not be opened. The building of the hostel was the armoury of Ma BuFang.

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Understandably, the windows were only to provide light and integral part of the wall itself.
Later in the afternoon, XueFeng and Ms Heng her friend, Taiwanese but living in Shanghai came. I went out with them to buy some supplies needed by the group and got a couple of photos so you can see how Xining downtown was like. This was a huge huge city, much bigger than a couple of photos can show. Do a Google Earth look down at Xining to find out

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QH00xining P8180085

Later in the evening, my very good friends from Taiwan came . There were a couple of stragglers, one caught by visa problem and another by typhoon and who would join us later. We had dinner in Xining on assortment of roasted lamb and then we went back to sleep to be ready for the next day and start

Monday 19 Aug 2013

AQinghai 01 Xining to Chaka Town

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We had a simple breakfast in the hostel and then set off on our bau cher or charter bus.
To pick up the first straggler, Arthur arriving that morning at Xining railway station after a hard train ride from Sian city.

Then we went to Kumbum monastery of wonderful legends and colorful beginnings
A drop of blood fell from Tsongkhapa’s umbilical cord when it was cut after his birth. From this drop grew a wondrous white sandalwood tree. It has a very broad trunk and 100,000 leaves, which it never sheds. In Tibetan, the number 100,000 merely signifies a very large number, and is not meant literally. On each leaf is an image of the Buddha Sinhanada (Seng-ge sgra). On the bark of the branches and trunk are the designs of the seed syllables and hand implements of this Buddha.

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I felt the contrast with those monastery I visited in 1987 when in Tibet. Or even more recently as in 1998 in Yunnan. Where most of the people going to the monasteries were pilgrims and camera toting tourists a minority.
On that morning, about 99.6% of the visitors were camera toting tourists. In the temples of the past that I been to, the only light inside came from tiny yak butter burning lamps and wicks. The rest of the temple in the dark and only when you get to the next alcove of worship that you see the icons and tangkas and images lit up in flickering lights.

Electric lights were strung up in the prayer halls casting light on what would be a mystery. I was glad the temple had a policy of forbidding cameras or the flash lights would light up even more.

We had hired a guide to to take us through and to explain to us.
The guide knew his stuff and explained with fervour. But it was an overload on the senses as one temple blend into the next and one Buddha blend into another. What that should be slowly digested maybe over a period of weeks were force fed into us in a couple of hours until I was lurching and reeling and glad it was over.
And we were brought to only a fraction of this Kumbum complex.

We got back on our bus. And went past sweeping grasslands and meadows.
With sheeps and yaks.

And at times, yurts and prayer flags.

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And in case we all did not know, an archway across the road that read QingHai Hu (QingHai Lake) in Chinese.

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Along the main road, locals would be waving flag to encourage the motorist to go down their track to the shore of the huge lake and to pay them toll on the track.
Which we did for 50RMB a head

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The elevation of Qinghai Hu was 3200 meters.
And we encountered groups after groups after groups of cyclists on the road

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And flocks of yaks and sheeps. We stopped at one of the flock. Instead of cowboys on horses, we saw yakboys on motorbikes looking after their flock.

I cast my mind back to the books I read many years ago of explorers in this region of what was called Lake Kokonor and the herds of wild asses, antelopes, Przewalski’s horses and Tibetan Gazelles. About the only place they can be found will be in those old books. All of them displaced by the yaks and the sheeps and the tourists on buses or on bicycles.

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The road rolled on and on. And it became clear why lamb was so much a part of the menu here.

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And then we found we were on top of a pass

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With a couple of tourist on bicycles threatening to run over me.

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And it being a pass, traditional prayer wind flags to give thanks to reaching the top of the pass.

We stayed the night over at Chakazen, Chaka town.
This was a one street town. We earlier made a booking at a hotel. But being a small one street town, they all know each other, the small hotel and bigger hotel and the police.
Who decided that we being foreign tourist could not stay at the small hotel and had to stay at the bigger more luxurious hotel, which conveniently had the rooms which otherwise had to go empty.

I was very surprised at the quality of rooms in the hotel which was very good even in a major city and this was a one street town in about middle of nowhere. At about 300RMB a room. You can see this in the phots of breakfast using supplies from Taiwan in one of the room before we set off the next morning

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Tuesday 20 Aug 2013

More photos in Flickr collection "Running about QingHai Plateau

Prior to setting out in our pau cher

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AQinghai 02 Chaka to Da Chai Dan

If you see in the Google Map, Chakazen is next to a white lake. The lake, Chakayan, is white because it is a salt lake. That we went to check out.

Sculpture of salt

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And then we were on our way.

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We did not just passed mountains.
We passed ranges of mountains

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And from time to time, slowed down to the pace of sheeps

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We passed strange monasteries with stupas in the distance

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Huge farms of photovoltaic cells

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Strange Chinese gates in middle of nowhere

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ans more ranges of mountains

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I got upset stomach. I had to beg a stop and went behind a bush

Others took the chance to stretch their legs
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No idea what it was and to whom it was dedicated to
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Ruins of some village below a range of mountains

The road went on and on and to underline the danger

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More mountain ranges

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Entering the city of Haixi. Looks like a dot on a map but was a major city in its own right

We all read China produced photovoltaic cells so cheaply that Europe had a major row.
I read recently in a BBC a city in USA or Europe planning on having photovoltaic cells as street lights. Look as if Haixi probably beat them to it. But being in China, was blissfully ignored by the rest of the world.

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And on our way to lunch, passed a humongous covered swimming pool for the people to swim in luxury and in depth of bitter winter I guess. I wished I then requested a stop to take photos, but I did not.

Having our lunch

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More mountains

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More mountains and farm of photovoltaic cells

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A couple of hours of driving and we came to a strange memorial to ET
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And we came to the Dachaidan to stay there for the night

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We checked into the hotel.

We then asked the desk or anything of interest.

We were told of a open air hot spring up in the nearby mountains.
Our driver had not known of this
Of course, we went there.
Never known of a Taiwanese who do not love hotsprings
And I am an honorary Taiwanese

To hotsprings

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The natural open air hotsprings a delightful 42C temperature or so.
With the air at about 20 C we spend a nice time there

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And it is important to cool down after a dip in the hotspring

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Sadly it was time to go.

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Too much surplus energy

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Local Bactrian camels

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It was a surprisingly nice and comfortable hotel. We told the front desk we ejoyed the hot spring very much.
We decided on a cook out in the foot hills that evening. We came again to that same area later that evening

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Wednesday 21 Aug 2013

More photos in Flickr collection "Running about QingHai Plateau

AQinghai 03   Da Chai Dan to DunHuang

We had breakfast of meat buns at a typical Chinese breakfast place just next to the hotel
We then loaded up the pau cher ready to reach DunHuang.

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The bus went on passing range after range of mountains.

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And despite the desert about us, rivers swollen with runoffs from the mountains

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And then ranges after ranges of mountains again and again

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Or we go through the range of mountains

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And then running along side the ranges of mountains

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We started to drop from 3000++ meters to 2000++ meters.

We were in a bus on very good roads as can be seen. And yet it was very tiring for us. There were stops every 2 hours to let the driver rest and for us to stretch legs.

I felt humbled to think of Genghis Khan and his Mongols who travelled across the same area into Persia to overthrow and destroy the Sultan and the Caliph after he cut off the heads of Genghis Khan ambassador and Mongol envoys.

We passed farms of wind mills

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Went up mountains again and over a 3648 meter pass

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Below a shot of a deer crossing sign

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When we stop at a very rare police check point. There were toilets there. The toilets were the type I encountered before 20 years ago when I was roaming about in China. I wished I had taken photos of the toilet.
The floor was about 7 feet above the ground. Other than separation into male and female rooms, the rooms were not divided internally into cubicles. There were open holes on the concrete slap with the ground 7 feet below.
The turds and tissue rose up 4 to 5 feet from the ground below. The flies and maggots were awesome to behold. The back part was thankfully opened to allow clearing and to allow the smell to disperse. After the modern toilets of the past few days, it was great to see again the toilets of the past and to know that they still existed.

This was at the last great range of mountains on the road to DunHuang.

Friends walking back to the bus happy to be done with the toilets.

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The elevation was 2000 at the foot of the range of mountains and steadily drop to 1500 meters when we stopped at Aksai village for lunch

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To my amazement and dismay, even in such a small restaurant in a tiny town literally in the middle of nowhere, the cups , plates and spoon came in plastic wrap. Which inevitably go to pollute the environment

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We had our lunch and moved on towards Dunhuang.

But first, we made a stop at the famous YuMeng Guan 玉門關 (Yumen Pass) (Jade Gate Pass). This pass is the most Western of the Chinese Passes. Yumen Guan featured in countless martial arts novels and in history as the last pass to go through in leaving China taken by caravans and travellers on the great Silk Road of the past.

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We then went into DunHuang city. I had not realised this was a major city. We checked into Dunhuang Carnival Boutique Hotel at about 70USD a night and found ourselves in luxurious rooms and with impeccable services.
We also picked up the last of our lost sheep, Ms Alba Wu, a bubbly girl with maniac laughter and good cheer. She had to delay a day because of business meeting, found a typhoon was approaching Taiwan and flew out by skin of her teeth to touch down in Dunhuang airport.

Walking into Dunhuang Night Market under the sign of Dunhuang Yueh Si
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Alba the last lost sheep on lower right feasting on other roasted sheep

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There were so many of these on sale. I was told this was almost an icon of Dunhuang. Conceived by an unknown artist over a thousand years ago and painted on mural of the Mogao Grottos that we be going to the next day.

I wondered how she managed to play the lute upside down and behind her. But then, her lute will not be blocking two of her prime assets.

Continue below
Running about QingHai Plateau Part 2 of 2

9 Sept 2013

I have kicked Old Nic for One miraculous year, seven incredible months, one wonderful week, five luvly days, 14 bloody hours, 23 misc minutes and 39 odd seconds. of cold turkey after about 45++ years of smoking. 30120 cigarettes not smoked, saving $15,813.30. Life saved: 14 weeks, 6 days, 14 hours, 0 minutes.

LiBai mash making.
About 300 grams of beef mince, with 200 grams of chicken mince and 150 grams of dried anchovies(for the calcium). That was all done up to the kitty mash formula I wrote about in
Pakistan//Tinkerbell Kitty Mash//Dommie at the beach Ramadhan 2010 //Villa walkabout 2
Instead of the almond and brazil nuts, about 100 grams of human grade groundnuts(peanuts) were used.

Making of Tinkerbell Mash
Morning with Harry & the decision// Sultan of Oman Palace// Tinkerbell Mash Batch 7

suri - Read "Conditioning clicker day 3 - and some tips on suris"

milli - read "Found the perfect treat and Yingshiong first "step up""

if you forgotten about clicker training

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06

Some thoughts on clicker - The initial experience with Tinkerbell

Clicker training and bonding with Tinkerbell

To Shanlung-Charlie and clicker training

Charlie and clicker training - beyond touch target //LiBai on finger and in slow motion videos —

Tinkerbell Legacy - - Rant 03 (a flighted parrot mentality) & Understanding the mind of your grey
Above is probably the most important of all I have written, and the foundation to all that I have done.


(edited on 4th November 2011 to include below)

To Shanlung - How to do Free Flight Outside

If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

I am a life member of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Do join us to do
whatever we can for the wildlife that shared our planet.

Durrell-life member
or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

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