So the next destination was Qinghai Province, the second biggest province in China, larger than any country in the EU, but only having 5.6 million inhabitants. Qinghai Province occupies a vast swath of the northeastern chunk of the Tibetan Plateau. Qinghai is said to feel more like Tibetan than Chinese. There are monasteries galore, yaks by the thousands and nomads camped out across high altitude grasslands. Qinghai means “blue sea” in Chinese. Yet, traveling in this beautiful Province is a little inconvenient due to its remoteness.
I took the train from Yili, Xinjiang and had 29 hours trip to Xining, the capital of Qinghai.
The train ride was mostly crossing the desert:
Situated in the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, this lively provincial capital is a wonderful place to experience the Province’s varied cultures. Muslim (Hui, Salar, Uighur), Tibetan and Han Chinese live together in the 2.2 million people capital.
I stopped by a restaurant, run by Salars and tasted the local specialty kaobing (考饼): A barbecued bread with spicy and oily flavor.
In the afternoon I went to the Nanchan Si (南禅寺), atop the Phoenix mountain. It was a built during the Song dynasty (960-1127) and is the oldest Chan Buddhist temple in Qinghai Province.
From the temple, you have an excellent overview of the city:
What’s also interesting were the two people, who were painting the temple walls in bright red color. They asked me whether I might help them out a little, since they failed to paint the upmost parts of the walls, due to their lack of height. Of course I helped and afterwards they recommended me some spots where to eat delicious yak yogurt. So I can add “painting temples” to my vitae!!
From Xining, I departed to see the Caka Salt Lake (茶卡盐湖), a stunning lake, which is not deep at all, so you can walk through the lake and take fantastic pictures. The ground of the lake is pure salt. I was lucky enough to have excellent weather.
In front of the sea, there were some Tibetan prayer tents and salt sculptures.
After getting out of the lake, my legs were covered with a salt crust:
I went to the nearby Qinghai Lake, China’s largest Lake, nearly six times the size of Singapore.
In the little town where I lived (Heimahe) I saw those eggs, fermented in calcium:
I had a try. Not too bad!
I also enjoyed a fresh Yak Yogurt:
Afterwards I watched the sunset..
… and slept in this tent, because all other locations were super expensive, between 40-70USD per night.
The next morning I watched the sunrise at the qinghai Lake:
Tbe scenery there was super beautiful:
A friendly Tibetan guy took me with his motorbike back to my tent..
.. And I packed my stuff and went to another scenic spot nearby the lake:
Afterwards I decided to climb a mountain in order to enjoy the view over the biggest lake of China on its peak.
On my may back to Xining, I saw countless Yaks.
It’s even possible to ride them!
The next stop was the Kumbum monastery in Qinghai Province, south of Xining. Stay tuned.