Posts Tagged With: qinghai

Day 72: Xining (西宁) – August 29

Meeting some people at the hostel, we formed a group on a more education day to the Qinghai provincial museum. Being extremely impressed with the Gansu museum, we wanted to have a comparison between the neighbours. Arriving at the massive, recently built structure, we walked towards the front entrance and noticed a tent at the entrance. As we got close, we saw a sign

“Due to heavy rains eroding the foundation of the northern part of the structure, the museum will be temporarily closed until repairs are complete.”

W T F

This place looks so new! Foundation is failing already? The country really needs to up its building standards…So without any other plans, we wanted to head into the only other museum in the city, the only Tibetan medicine museum in the country (There isn’t even one in Tibet!). Gladly, we called them to see if they were open, because for some outlandish reason the electricity stopped in that part of the city so the exhibits are closed!!!! Guess fate didn’t want the group of us to learn…

So we ended up heading back to the hostel and playing 三国杀(refined version of Bang!) until 2am…. hahaha

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Day 71: Xining (西宁) – August 28

 With a day to spare in a big city, we made the most of our day by…. watching three movies! And being Tuesday, it was half price!! Popcorn though, was ridiculously priced so we ended up buying cherry tomatoes from the market as our snack =)

We watched 消失的子弹, 边境风云 and Batman!! We’ve been spoiled these couple months with the Chinese movies we’ve watched. Think these movies have been much better in terms of artistic direction and plot as well. Highly recommend any of the movies, especially 消失的子弹!! Watching three movies in a day was rather tiring, a bit even more tiring than hiking =)

In between movies, we headed to a local Dico’s (Chinese KFC?) for some afternoon-tea promotion they had, where you get two drumsticks for $8.5RMB!!! After lining up for about 15minutes, we got to the counter and asked for our long-awaited deal, I even had $17 ready to get us four drumsticks! This is how it fell through

Me: “Can I get that afternoon tea special?”
*hands over $17*
Manager: “What’s the secret code?”
Me: “W T F?”
Manager: “You need a special code to get the discount. Don’t you know this?
Me: “What secret code? Can you just tell us?”
Manager: “No.”

…. WE WOULD NOT LEAVE EMPTY HANDED! So we regrouped, baidu’d some forums and got the secret code!!! The forum said, you are supposed to say the code, and the server will respond you with a even more stupid phrase: “好吃就是卡吱卡吱”. Feeling a little bit retarded, I took a swig of my clear liquid from yesterday and lined up again. This time we were served by a rookie server.

Me: “脆皮炸鸡,美味再一次”
Knowing I just said something stupid, it made me felt better knowing they would respond in a even stupider manner, but what I got was totally upsetting…
Server: “Okay, that’s $17RMB please.”

STUPID MANAGER. NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE CODE!!! Anyways…. the drumsticks were possibly one of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had, so it was all worth’d. Don’t know how they do it, but Chinese people know how to fry their chicken!

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Day 70: Xining (西宁) – August 27

Nothing much, spent the day resting and eating at the night market….and ended up losing my phone!

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Day 69: Xining (西宁) – August 26

Alarm was set at 6am, as we had to take an 8:30am bus back into the city of Xining. Water + Electricity, here we come!

One issue: It’s over 850km away, and despite having actual ROADS (unlike the muddy mess we’ve been used to for the past couple), the trip is estimated to take 15hours!

More issues: The bus had no air conditioning, people were smoking in the bus, sunflower seeds all ovr the floor, and people keep throwing up! The bus had windows, but somehow people don’t like opening them. So we sat in stale, vomit-smelling air filled with smoke from 8:30am to 12:05am the next day!!

To add insult to injury, my seat was broken so instead of keeping your back straight like a normal chair, it would recline into the lap of the person behind me everytime I leaned back!!!!!!

After this bus trip, our tolerances for long-distance trips have exponentially increased….. We quickly got into our beds and got some much needed rest.

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Day 68: Yushu (玉树) – August 25

Waking up to the sound of construction vehicles rumbling past the road, we decided to shift our stay to another place with running water and hot showers, since it’s been 3 hot days since we’ve showered. After walking about 2km in dust (because the air-to-dust ratio was probably less than 1.0), checking out 4 different ‘hotels’ and riding 2 different cars, we finally settled on a “Officially Appointed Government -sanctioned Hotel” (which was a glorified set of portables), with a public shower hall guests can use for free, once. Running water, electricity generator and very expensive would be how I’d sum this ‘hotel’ up. Continue reading

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Day 68: Yushu (玉树) – August 24

The morning, we got a lift again from Mr. SUV since he was headed into the same direction. Along the way, the clouds lifted and the scenery was pretty spectacular. We arrived at Shiqu (石渠), and found a car to take us to the world’s longest ‘prayer wall’, 巴格玛尼墙 before dropping us off at our next stop of Yushu (玉树). There was another person in the car that rode with us to Yushu.

Background: Yushu is a small Tibetan region within the Qinghai province famous for two things, Tibetan Mastiffs (which can easily sell for over a million RMB per dog!!) and cordyceps(虫草) – the price now for the top quality ones are $300 thousand RMB per pound. It is also famous because the city was pretty much destroyed by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake back in 2010. The city itself is still under heavy construction, but for most people it is life as usual.

The prayer wall is extremely impressive, being over 1.5km long and made of long pieces of rock with scriptures carved into it. One thing that impresses me the most though is that every individual rock is unevenly sized, but somehow someway when put together it forms a solid wall! Imagine playing LEGO with different sized pieces and try to build a sturdy wall with it! Our driver, who was Tibetan, tagged along with us to walk around the prayer wall. Along the way, he pointed to some leafy thing growing out of the ground and told us it was edible! He ripped open its stalk to unveil its celery-like inners, but it wasn’t very good =P

At the end of the wall was a large white stupa, and thinking it was the proper thing to do before turning back, I put my palms together as a sign of respect to the stupa. The Tibetan driver saw me do this, and said “Whats inside?” and started looking at the stupa to see if there was anything special with it…. THERE WASN’T. Okay…. it’s better to be extra respectful than disrespectful now isn’t it?!?!

We stopped by for a quick dinner in a nearby town, and the extra person in the car, for no good reason, treated us for dinner!! Dinner was about $110RMB, but in a place where the average monthly income was $1500RMB, I’m not quite sure how people are so generous with strangers!! The Tibetan driver was also very nice, and bought drinks for all of us. Seriously, how many drivers ever buy you a coffee at the truck stop?

By the time we got to Yushu it was already 10:30pm, and we’ve been sitting in a car for well over 11 hours and was extremely tired. We tried to find a hotel, but because of the earthquake, everything is still under construction and also very expensive! After a long, and tiring drive around a dark and power-less city, we managed to find a reasonably clean (Note: Our standards have dropped dramatically because there’s no other way, and I’m pretty sure most of the readers will not be too happy with the level of cleanlisness we’re forced to be accustomed with) place. The problem is there was no power, and without power the hotel couldn’t pump well water up to be used, so there was no water!!! Power was available through gas-powered generators, but not enough to pump water from the well.

After the past couple of days, it reminded us that most things taken for granted living in the city is not there, and it really doesn’t take much to sweep us off our feet. Either way, we once again got a great night’s sleep with our sleeping bag despite less-than-desirable conditions. Must say, having a great sleeping bag makes the surroundings irrelevant!!

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Day 47: Henan Village Day 2 (河南县) – August 3

We headed over to the fields first thing in the morning to join the festivities. As discussed, everyone was in their full festive attire and we were in our tshirts (which nobody ever wore) and backpacks. Sticking out like a sore thumb, we followed the locals to climb some barbed wire fences and onto centre stage. We arrived at 11am or so.

The first race was over, and now it was a weight-lifting event. It was very old school as people would come up at random and try to lift a burl sack weighing 140KG. After 45mins of watching, nobody was close to lifting it above their shoulders as required so we walked around the fields. It was pretty cool, like another concert where people would bring tents to chill in. The only difference is that right behind your tent is a flock of sheep/cows! Haha, pretty cool.

At 12:30pm, the weight lifting was over and we took a seat at the stage to get a better view of the upcoming race. We were told, the race would start at 2pm. We were extremely hungry but thought we should hold out until the race is over. At 2:30pm, there was still no sign of horses at all…. WTF? Continue reading

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Day 46: Henan Village (河南县) – August 2

We heard about a local horse race from Angelo, our friend from Idaho we met in Xiahe. The race is in the nearby city village of Henan, and figured we should check it out since it is a big thing for the towns here. We tried to get a normal bus ride over, but apparently they don’t exist, so we had to flag down a private ride over. Despite being a short 150km away, the ride took close to 5hours! Most of the roads were under construction, and I mean that literally, as there were only rocks. Bumpy ride, hurt our bumps….

Travel Tip: In China it is very normal to have random strangers offer you a ride for a pre-negotiated sum. It’s perfectly normal! Just make sure you haggle the price….

 Arriving at the town, which consisted of 3 roads and about 30k people. Despite being in a Tibetan region, this town is actually a Mongolian minority group village (which explains the horse racing?). All the ‘liveable’ hotels were booked completely by the municipal gov’t because of the race, and whatever remains was not very pleasant. If you know how things worked, you’d know that most hotels probably have rooms open but are saving them up for ‘special guests’. For example, a foreign passport holder! So after walking into each hotel and getting rejected, we tried another way, calling them…. in english. Thinking that they don’t really have many english speaking guests, they would try to accommodate the foreigners with as much hospitality as possible. This is what happened….twice: Continue reading

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