Arriving in Xining

05:55 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

The bus ride to Xining offered the best scenery so far. I'd chosen to seat on the wrong side of the bus though. Outside, a rocky valley opened up into a verdant plane, with scattered clouds reflected upon a voluminous river. However I could only catch glimpses of it between the soporific nodding of the passengers next to me.

Five hours and one numb bum later, we arrived in Xining, Qinghai. The bus station was a bit of a puzzle and I couldn't find my way out of the car park. Once I managed to escape, I was encouraged to take a motorbike taxi. I've seen how reckless Chinese drivers are but I got on anyway. It was good fun. Xining's tight streets seemed to be designed to motorbikes to nip around.
After settling into my hostel and going for a walk, I got that familiar feeling of 'city envy'. The weather was perfect and I sat in a pleasant park reading my book. The streets were clean and opposite me a band were rehearing with traditional Chinese instruments. An old lady came over for a chat, her curiosity piqued by my Kindle. Further exploration around my local area revealed an outdoor climbing wall and numerous cycling shops. I hadn't even moved more than one block from my hostel. After the horrors of open air butchery in Tongren, anywhere would be an improvement. Still, Xining had quickly won me over - there wasn't even anyone pissing in the street.

In the evening I went to a food market to try the local delicacy, bai lian pi. The rich, thick noodle dish tasted amazing after all that bland Tibetan cuisine.
It was also nice to back amongst the Han Chinese. Tibetans and Hui Muslims don't seem to care too much for tourists. The Han are always welcoming and I'm much more familiar with their ways and habits. I went to the main square to watch the crazy folk dance the evening away - and I think there was even some impromptu street stand-up comedy.

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