Category: Gansu

Jan 01 2010

Lanzhou to Xining, China

Ate LanZhou la mian (5 Yuan) at MaZhiLu restaurant. The restaurant is well known and is considered as one of the best La Mian place in LanZhou.

Waiting for LaMian

Went to the train station and bought the 5.44pm train ticket (33 Yuan~USD$5, around 200km)to LanZhou.

Went to ICBC bank and tried to open a Chinese bank account. Banks and cell phone providers in China are fragmented. Withrawing and saving money in the same banks in a different province will get hit by a surcharge. For ICBC bank it’s a 1% surcharge for saving and withrawing with a maximum fee of 100 Yuan.

Using cell phone in a different town/city will get hit by roaming charges and every city has their own cell phone plans.

Bank of China has a better fee structures but they don’t have as many branches as ICBC.

Took bus 58 to the provincial museum at the west part of the city. There was a long line because of holiday and I really like the museum.

This sign mentioned that people who don’t dress nicely and people who are stupid or has brain damaged are not allowed to enter the museum.

an very old dumplings

This exhibit is about how life is formed in the beginning. It’s all about evolution because communism and religion don’t go together.

Dinosaur exhibits

Goods transported from China to the west through the silk road

Goods transported from the west to China through the silk road

Galloping horse


Took the 5.25 express train from Lanzhou to Xining

Got to Xining train station at around 8pm.

Bought another train ticket for my next destination tomorrow to YinChuan (7pm, 120 Yuan~USD$17, upper sleeping berth)

After visiting around 7 hotels and ZhaoDaiShuo, finally stayed a hotel across the train station (80 Yuan~USD$12). Many ZhaoDaiShuo were like those in Lanzhou where they don’t accept foreigners.

Dec 31 2009

Xiahe to Lanzhou, China

There were 2 other Tibetan Chinese workers staying at the same dorm as me. They can speak more fluent mandarin than Uygur Chinese. They were quite friendly so I tried asking their perspectives regarding the 3/14 riot/protest last year. From what I heard before was that the violent protest by Tibetans were organized in overseas.

They mentioned that most Tibetan Chinese wanted something more than the autonomy status. They wanted a gao ji Zhi zi qu like Hong Kong and Macau.From their prespective, Chinese government doesn’t hear their plights and needs. They wanted more representive in the
government so to have more control of their destiny.

During the 3/14 riot, most Han Chinese thought that Tibetans were the one that started the riot and attacked innocent bystanders. However, from Tibetans side, they thought that the protest were peaceful and the army opened fire and send many Tibetans to jail. From the sources that they received, they mentioned that over 2000 Tibetans Chinese were killed. I am not sure who has the right information as the information that they received came from their own Tibetan friends. Rumours can be spread like fire and are very dangerous in developing country with multi ethnic group.

Tibetans are religious and spiritual

Turning the prayer wheels. Inside the prayer wheels were sacred books about Buddhism.

Tibetan writing

Tibetan Kids

HOrse Carts not allowed

There is a big military presence in XiaHe after the 3-14 riot.
Surveillance camera on the street.

There are 3 direct buses a day to Lanzhou from Xiahe. Took the 2.30pm bus (50 Yuan~USD$7).

Got to Lanzhou at around 6.40pm. Surprisingly, JianXiong, a friend I met in DunHuang was also in Lanzhou and he told me that I can share a double bed dorm with him in Lanzhou university

dorm (15 Yuan each~USD$2.20).

A simple New Year eve meal, dumplings for 6 Yuan~USD$.90.

Because of the University curfew at 11.30pm, I wasn’t able to go out and spent New Year’s eve countdown locked under a basement in Lanzhou University.

Dec 30 2009

LanZhou to Xiahe, China

Decided to sleep in a little and checked out at 9.30am from the hotel. Got to the Southern bus station and tried getting a ticket to LinXia before transferring to XiaHe. XiaHe has the famous Tibetan Labrang Monastery. To get to LinXia or Xiahe, they require photocopies of my passport and my Chinese visa. I guess this is because of the riot in XiZhang province last year.

Got a 11am ticket (30 Yuan) to LinXia. It’s pretty diverse on the bus with Chinese from different ethnicities.

A DongXiang family sitting beside me

GOt to LinXia at 1.40pm and then got on the 2.45pm bus (20 Yuan) to XiaHe.

Arrived at XiaHe at around 5pm and walked to a Hostel 1.6km away. I haven’t really stayed in any hostel recently so I am looking forward to find the hostel.

Got a 8 bed dorm for 25 Yuan

Hosteling International XiaHe

Dinner (8Yuan)

Xiahe is the leading Tibetan monastery town outside of Lhasa. The town is populated mainly by Tibetan Chinese (I guess that’s the politically correct term to mention Tibetan Chinese instead of Tibetan). 60% are Zhang (Tibetan), 20% Hui and 20% Han.

Dec 29 2009

LanZhou, China

Arrived at LanZhou train station at 9.15am after a 14 hours ride.


Walked around and tried looking for a place to stay. Asked around a few ZhaoDaiShuo, those places are pretty cheap, ranging from 40-60 Yuan but they don’t allow foreigners to stay there.

Finally ended up staying at DunHuang hotel and got the cheapest room with shared bathrooms (68 Yuan~USD$10).

LanZhou is a city of around 3 millions and it’s spread out along the Yellow River from East to West. It is ranked as the most polluted city in China.

First thing on my to do list, Lanzhou LaMian (Noodles)

All kinds of food

Asked around about transportation to XiaHe, a town 4 hours away from Lanzhou. Took bus 111 to the south bus station at the west part of town to get a ticket. The attendant wouldn’t sell me a ticket and asked me to come back tomorrow morning. There were 3 direct buses to XiaHe a day, 7.30am, 8.30am and 2pm.

Across the southern bus station is LanZhou LiGong (Engineering/Technical) University. Walked around the university and had dinner at the canteen.

Had dinner at the university canteen

Walked across the city from XiaoXiWu, located at the west part of town back to the train station located at the east part.

Night View

Got a Lanzhou 10 Yuan haircut (10 Yuan~USD$1.5).

This is my 3rd haircut on this trip so far and the cheapest. I got my first haircut in Luxor, Egypt. Second haircut at Piranshar, Iran and the third one here.

Dropped by GanNanLu at night. GanNanLu is a place with many bars and chatted with the owner of a bar for almost 3 hours.

Then worked on my blog at an internet cafe. To those who want to travel cheap, it’s possible to get a seat at the internet cafe for the whole night (11pm-8am) for just 5 Yuan. The chair is quite comfy and is possible to sleep in the internet cafe.

Dec 28 2009

DunHuang, China

The train attendant woke me up and arrived at LiuYuan train station at 5.15am in the morning. Got on a shared taxi (30 Yuan ~USD$4.5, 1.5 hours ride) and departed for DunHuang which is another 150km away.

Arrived at Dunhuang around 7.40am and asked the taxi driver to drop me off at the bus station because it’s still dark because of winter. Since the sky will only lit up at 9am in the morning I stored my bag at the train station and planned my next destination. Spent some time thinking if I wanted to stop by JiaYuGuan or just go direct to Lanzhou.

Since time is tight, I decided to go direct to LanZhou and bought the 7.05 pm train ticket (251 Yuan, Upper Berth sleeper) at the station and skip the trip to JiaYuGuan.

Walked around and found an internet cafe close to the bus station. Finally I can check my email after 10 days without internet access. Spent an hour at an internet cafe (3 Yuan). Surprisingly, the internet speed was quite fast. I always thought that because of the Great Firewall in China, it will slow down internet access in the country.

MoGao Caves is sort of a must see tourist spot in DunHuang. The cave is around 25km away from DunHuang city. Took a public bus (8 Yuan, 30 minutes ride) few blocks down the road from the bus station and I was lucky that I don’t have to wait long for the bus to depart. Met few other Chinese tourist on the bus and head to the cave together. I haven’t really seen any tourist in XinJiang province so it’s a good thing to exchange information.

Since it’s a low season for tourism, the ticket was 50% off the usual price of 160Yuan. For people with Chinese university ID, it cost only 40 Yuan to enter but ISIC card is not accepted.

Mogao Caves


Some Chinese tourists

MOgao Caves is famous for its Chinese Buddhist art. It has the greatest repositories of Buddhist art in the world. There are more than a thousand caves here. The founding of the first cave was around 366AD. There is also the world’s 3rd largest statue of Buddha 34.5 meters (The world biggest Buddha statue is in SiChuan province and is around 65 meters tall) is in one of the cave.

Camera is not allowed in the caves and the art on the wall and statues are quite well preserved. There is an infamous library Cave 17 which stored many priceless Buddhist manuscripts but in 1924, close to 20,000 of the manuscripts and books were sold to a British and French archaeologist for 150 pounds.

We visited 10 caves and then took the 1.30pm bus back to the city.

Visited ShaZhou Market

Famous DunHuang statue

With a traveller from Shanghai

Crescent Moon Lake (YueYaQuan) is around 5km south of DunHuang. Took public bus no. 3 (1 Yuan) to get there but I didn’t go in because I thought the entrance fee of 120 Yuan is quite expensive.

Able to see sand dunes outside the gate.

DunHuang has a new train station 12km away from the city. Took a bus to DunHuang new train station

at 6pm to catch my 7pm train T9668 (DunHuang-Lanzhou) to Lanzhou.

Dec 27 2009

Urumqi to Turpan(TuLuFan) to LiuYuan, China

Went to the train station in the morning

and took the 9.36am train 544 to Turpan (TuLuFan).


In Urumqi, the sky only lit up at around 9.30am Beijing time.

There were workers cleaning the train, sweeping and mopping every now and then. There were also many Carts selling food running around the aisle. Many Chinese were eating all kinds of fruits and junk foods, to me, even western China seems quite well off compared to Central Asian and Eastern European countries.

Got to Turpan at around 12pm.

The train station in Turpan is actually located in DeHeYan and is around 40km away from the city. Bought another night train ticket (164 Yuna, upper berth sleeper, ShangPu YingZhuo)to LiuYuan which is a stepping point to DunHuang.

Passengers waiting in line

Stored my bag at a hotel for 10 Yuan and then took a bus (7.50 Yuan, 40 minutes) to the city.

Weather today in Turpan ranges from -3C to -10C and is warmer than Urumqi. Turpan is 154 meters below sea level and is the city with the 2nd lowest altitude on earth (Dead Sea is the first). It’s also the hottest city with average temperature of 43C during summer. It is one of the driest spot and grows the sweetest melons and grapes in China.

Lunch (12 Yuan~USD$1.8)

Turpan is famous for grapes. Grapes girl

Took public bus 5 to PuTaoGou (Grapes Valley). This is a low season for tourism and there were nothing to see really.

Chinese made, 3 wheelers

Visited a bazaar.

There were quite a good mix of Uygur and Han Chinese in Turpan.

Tried to take a bus back to the train station but it was full so had to take a shared taxi for 20 Yuan. The driver is an ethnic Uygur but he can speak mandarin without an accent. Most Uygur Chinese speak Mandarin with a thick accent and in Kashgar not many Uygur can speak mandarin.

English translation literally

Got on a night train T70 to LiuYuan departing at 9.56pm.
Train coming

The T70 train (Urumqi-Beijing) is heading towards Beijing and is in a very good condition. It’s quite clean and the sleeping berth was quite comfortable.

So far things in China is quite well planned. Even though the train company is government owned but the people working in the train are pretty professional and provide a better customer service than what I expected from a state owned company.


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