Lanzhou and Xining but no Lhasa
Lanzhou is a dirty polluted city on a rail-hub connecting 3 or 4 different lines. I had to pass through here on three separate occasions, each time only staying for a few hours as the haze of pollution that clung to the city from the numerous petrochemical plants made it a little difficult to breathe. There are a few sites to see but I didn’t really bother, instead I just got the next bus or train that was heading in the direction I was going. From here I travelled onto Xining on my first stop-over then to Jiayuguan on my trip north west to Turpan and then finally back down to Xiahe for my second visit to the Amdo Tibetan region.
Xining was really just another jumping point for me into the Amdo region although I had every intention to use it as my launching point to Lhasa and Central Tibet. I travelled to Xining earlier in my trip than I originally intended as I wanted to discuss my options for taking the train to Lhasa and then from there travelling overland to Nepal. I had learned that Tibet would be closed to foreigners for all of March as the 10th and 14th were important anniversaries of turbulent times in the region; most recently in 2008 when a number of Tibetan’s were killed, actual numbers have never been confirmed largely due to media restrictions. I hoped that I would at least be able to travel in the region up to the 9th crossing into Nepal on that date but this wasn’t the case. The government wasn’t issuing any permits for travel for any of March so my only options were to either leave in the next couple of days, cutting my time in China short by 3 weeks, or skipping Lhasa and Central Tibet for the time being. I ended up making the decision to stay in China and fly to Kathmandu with the intention to come back to Xining and finish the final overland leg of the journey on my way home to Australia in January next year.This meant I also had to alter my trip for China as I would no longer have time to make it as far west as I planned. In hindsight I couldn’t have made a better choice as the two weeks I spent in the Amdo region turned out to be one of the highlights of my year long journey.
I did spend a few days in Xining and at the guesthouse I met a couple of French Canadian guys who were heaps of fun and an awesome crew from an international art school in Germany. The crew from the art school even bought me a delicious cake for my birthday which was the week before, I also scored a sweet party hat AND they even organized a HUGE fireworks display, although the fireworks could have been because it was the last day of the Spring Festival, but it did start at about the same time they brought out my cake so I’m claiming it…