Blogs from Gansu, China, Asia


Asia » China » Gansu July 17th 2018

July 13 - The Terracotta Warriors & Train to Lanzhou - Dia 23 Waking up in a bed again and starting the day with warm soy milk, a traditional morning drink around China. Warm foaming soy milk, still have not tried it with coffee ? The Terracotta Warriors, supposedly the 8th Wonder of the World. What did I think of it after visiting it? First we had to pay around 30 Canadian Dollars to get in. We tried to get in as students but it did not work as planned. After a couple of discussions we accepted the reality that only Chinese students were valid for the discount. The whole walk through the clay monuments was not what I expected. I honestly thought we where going to be walking next to them. But in order to ... read more

Asia » China » Gansu May 25th 2018

The holidays we have, Mark and I, are not holidays in the sense of having a rest. They are usually more like a gruelling marathon. There is nothing restful about travelling on a plane (three 7am flights in our time away so far). There is nothing restful about being on an organised tour - we have been averaging four different activities every day since we arrived 10 days ago. Therefore, on our first morning onboard our Yangtze River cruise on the Victoria Sophia, we decided to miss the onshore tour and instead loll around our capacious suite and later, explore the ship. I spent a good hour reading “H is for Hawk” which I found in a little library in the “Yangtze Club” bar. I decided to ignore the other book which had caught my attention, ... read more
The upstream and downstream locks on the Three Gorges Dam
Just before our first dinner
The grey line is where the water will reach in the summer

Asia » China » Gansu » TianShui March 26th 2018

A 6.30 start (to catch up on blog) and an 8.00 taxi to the Lanzhou Xi (West) new station for the bullet train. Once again, we were staggered, the station is only magnificent, absolutely vast, beautifully clean and efficient; it reminded me a bit of Gatwick 50 years ago, an horrendous contrast with the dreadful sort of transport facilities to which we have become inured in UK. Noted on the way that virtually all buses here in Lanzhou are actually either electric or at least hybrid, but there is no denying that most cars (far too big and gas-guzzling) and most scooters are still on diesel or petrol. The train left on time, fairly near full, and with the same excellent staff arrangements. Once again, we remembered the notion that in UK they might operate trains ... read more
Nice electric car
Feeder channel, Tian Shui
Selfie opportunity

Asia » China » Gansu » TianShui March 26th 2018

Day 31: Exploring Tian Shui At 7.30 we were, to some extent, roused by music being played in the street via a public address system, followed by 30 minutes of possibly stirring speech, mostly by a woman. Over an excellent Jinjiang Inn breakfast (including hard-boiled eggs, boiled in tea), Maghnus revealed that he had hit the town last night and gave us an account of his revels. The plan for today was to visit the Buddhist grottoes at Maijishan (Wheat Stack Mountain), so named because the caves have been carved into an isolated geological feature that looks like a stook. It is 35 km southeast of Tianshui, is the 4th most important such complex in China and 194 caves plus extensive artwork survive. Maghnus had a cunning plan – to go by taxi to the “old” ... read more
Our bus to Maijishan
Maijishan Grottoes
Maijishan Grottoes

Asia » China » Gansu » Lanzhou March 25th 2018

After breakfast in the hotel (jolly good, 18 RMB, ca. £1.50) we walked a couple of km in warm, sunny weather to explore Five Springs Mountain Park. It was Saturday, so quite busy for the time of year (by our standards, VERY busy). It is an extensive park on the side of a 650 metre very steep hillside, and the many shrubs and trees were just coming into leaf or bud. The area is packed with facilities, hawkers, street-stalls, temples, shrines, a zoo, a fun-fair, five different springs and numerous washrooms in varying degrees of suitability. Maghnus had decided to run up to the top (35 minutes?) whilst K and C elected to “people-watch”. Quite a lot of them watched us instead, and we were greeted by various children; we also watched a chap playing a ... read more
Dust laying, Lanzhou
Five Springs Park
The horse in Lanzhou museum

Asia » China » Gansu » Lanzhou March 24th 2018

Another nice breakfast at Leisa’s café, after another tough night on the “plank” bed, then we set off to drive 392 km down to Lanzhou, capital of Gansu (population ca. 2.5 miliion). Dropping from 3,400 metres to about 2,000 metres, from the mountains to a river valley and a city 4km wide by 25km long. As we left Langmusi, Christa noticed a (dead) wolf on the back of a put-put. We noticed a yak calf gambolling around, so confirmed our suspicion that the small, remote tent sometimes seen (with solar panel) is the equivalent of a shepherd’s hut, somewhere for the herdsman to stay during the calving period. The endless rolling grassland is an incredible sight, with prosperous homesteads in villages or isolated, and really strong stocking levels. We passed the watershed again, almost halfway from ... read more
Ma Chenghu staff
Tea and flavouring
Lily bulb fields

Asia » China » Gansu » Langmusi March 22nd 2018

Day 26: Driving to Lang Mu si Well, here we are in Langmusi, pretty high up. We are in a nice hotel, will find out the name eventually, although we are the only guests and, indeed, the only visitors in this mountain village which has been improved and extended for what must be a massive tourist influx in summer. It seems the visitors are Chinese nationals who arrive in throngs by the coachload, plus a sprinkling of what would once have been hippies, nowadays backpackers or possibly New Age? The effect is rather like being on the former set of a major Wild West movie, watching the tumbleweed roll through town. All the same, we are privileged to be here out of season, in glorious sunshine, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and at liberty to wander at ... read more
Pilgrims, with about 20 miles to go
Yak traffic jam
Horizontal mill wheel

Asia » China » Gansu » Langmusi March 22nd 2018

Day 27: Exploring Lang Mu Si Not very big on the map, this village is about 100 miles or so to the south of Xining. We woke at 7 am to yet another glorious blue sky, and could see persons already circumnavigating a prayer-wheel house on the skyline, about half a mile away. They were walking around it at quite some pace, up to eight or nine people mostly, and every now and then one or two would peel off and head for their day’s work. Many people choose prayer beads to keep count, but there is also a sort of abacus attached to the side of the building that can be updated on each circuit. The whole place was very quiet by 8.30 last night, although in Leisha’s place we were able to get beers ... read more
Sky burial site, Langmusi
Duplicate view
Bannar at Langmusi

Asia » China » Gansu » Xiahe March 20th 2018

An excellent breakfast and then collected some washing; a cultural difficulty became clear, as to why laundries will not handle “smalls”. Seemingly Moslems and Buddhists both have specific rules as to how such garments must be segregated and handled, so it is simplest to leave it to the individual in question. Leaving town, Kevin calculated that at least 3,000 mature trees have been recently transplanted to decorate the street, each one at 20ft high and 6 inches diameter, all hand-planted and supported individually by four spread-eagled stakes and a collar; even at (say) £250 a tree to cover propogation, growing on, uplifting, transport, planting, staking and irrigation, this is a huge investment in a remote and quite small population centre. The weather was magnificent, and we drove on whilst contemplating the truly gigantic scale of investment ... read more
Drying racks for barley straw
Muti purpose tractor unit
On the road to Xiahe

Asia » China » Gansu » Zhangye March 17th 2018

Left the hotel to discover that the frantic pavement-destruction frenzy had reached our own front door. We had decided to take a local bus about 60 km to the south, to visit a much-bruited “Geological Park” on the road to Sunan. Seemingly the rocks are of interesting eroded formations, and being layered sedimentary rocks topped with conglomerate are amazing after rain, which highlights the contrasting colours. We, of course, have not seen a drop of rain in 22 days so were not too hopeful. The bus journey was quite good fun (although the wc facility in the rather smart bus station was utterly wodious). We were eventually dropped off at what seemed to be the entrance to WallyWorld, with an enormous carpark (8 cars including staff) and a giant plastic Fred Flintstone-style imitation rockface. In for ... read more
The Pavement Up-tearing
Another stone
And two more!

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