Oh, so I arrived in Xining Aug 10th, stayed at the Lete Hostel, highly recommended, much better than any hotel, with internet access, a tour co on site, clean and updated, washing, etc. I moved to Xing Yuan Hotel with my "orphanage" buddies on the third night. We were supposed to only be here for a couple days, but the main donor cannot cash her travelers checks, only $3000 a day, so we have been a bit stuck for cash to purchase all the stuff for the kids. We have purchased a lot of items, including coal, huge amount of food, mattresses, desks, computers, shoes and clothes, which all have been trucked the 20 hours to Warithang Orphanage. As far as I know all our boxes of winter clothing has reached the orphanage, but until I can get there and go through every box, I really won't know. What I do know, is that we are getting another 50 children in September and I will be looking for more sponsors when I return. It would break my heart for 108 kids to have the nice winter clothing and the other 50 to go cold. Anyway about Xining. There is not a lot to see here although it is one of the nicer Chinese cites (pollution aside). It has some rather pleasing architecture, a muddy river filled with sewerage, but some great shopping. Around here is Qinghai Lake, which is outstanding. Along the way we stopped to visit the Tibetans and the Moon and Sun Mountain - princess statue area (Chinese princess married Tibetan king in 629-650 AD), but what is fabulous is being met by all these traditional Tibetans with their yaks, all for a price, of course, but for a "Tibetan fan" seeing these beautiful people in their tradional dress, their yaks roaming the green fields, and their prayer flags flying (thousands of them) it was worth every penny and more. I felt like giving them everything I had just to look at them, now subjected to selling themselves as an attraction, rather than being able to enjoy their homeland. It was pitiful at the same time as being marvelous for one such as I. The lake was truly a shade of blue I've never seen before, and as Robert Thurman pointed out, there are no clouds as fluffy as Tibetan clouds. The mal at Quinhai lake was extremely expensive and not eatable on any standard, but we headed back and took the low road through the sand dunes where people were sledding off quite large mountians! Qinghai Lake is really worth a see, the azure blue, the Tibetans and their yaks, and the sand dunes are really quite specktaculer, even better than my spelling! The Kumbum monestary is also nearby and absolutely a must-see treasure. It's really difficult to describe how inspiring that place is with all the monks running about, the beautiful wood carvings and the chanting. We missed the debates, but saw some wonderful views from the top. The best part of my adventure thus far is meeting Kalsang, a local Tibetan guide, who speak good English and is the sort of spirit one hopes to encounter when coming to Tibet. I highly recommend his services. +8613897440011 . He can escort anyone to anywhere in the Qinghai Province and anywhere else in China since he speaks Tibetan, Chinese and English. He's an angel. Signing off for now. Check my photos of Xining.
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