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A Journey to the West (Ⅰ) - Xian and Xining

Post Time: Sep 08 2011 By Sophie Huang

That was 4 years ago, three of my roommates and I took a tour to Xian, Xining and Lhasa. That tour was actually a Farewell Journey to memorize our college life. So we decided to tour the places far beyond our familiar ones – to visit the vast western land. Xian would be our transition place, from where, we could take flight to Xining, then train to Lhasa.
    Terracotta ArmyBig Wild Goose Pagoda
Xian was famous for its rich historical relics and local snacks (for us). According to a recommended tour strategy, we stayed in a chain hotel near the ancient Xian City Wall, for two nights. The next day, we visited the famous Terracotta Army and Big Wild Goose Pagoda. And took a stroll along the Muslim Street, where we ate a lot of local snacks. Actually, for me, tasting the local flavor is the most attractive thing to do in each journey. 
    Qinghai LakeQinghai Lake
After 1.5 hours flight, we landed Xining, which is the capital city of Qinghai Province. There’s no many surprises in downtown, but when we reached Qinghai Lake the next day, we were amazing at the marvelous landscape of the vast west land. It’s the biggest salty lake/inland lake of China, which seemed boundless. Near the shore, the water was transparent blue, you could see the water bed. Go further, it turned into greenish blue and even dusty blue, then darker…Finally, I could not tell what color it was as too far beyond and the reflections of sky and mountains around disguised its original color.
     Taer Monastery Lhasa
Today, we will take an overnight train to Lhasa. But in the morning, we still took a short visit to Ta’er Monastery, which is one of the 6 grand monasteries of Dge-lugs-pa, one branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The color Tibetan painting drew on the beam-columns, eaves and tablets were complex and extremely delicate. I was wondering how the workmen created and made such patterns. We took a glimpse of whole the construction – there are 8 religious attractions of it open to tourists, but we just visited some of them.
To catch our afternoon train, we have our simple lunch (bread and some cooked food) on the shuttle bus back to downtown. Then, we grabbed our luggage from the hostel lobby and ran to the train station (yes, ran, as our hostel just few steps away).    
And then, here we were, on the Qinghai-Tibet highland train! The condition of it was much better than I expected. I had some not so happy experiences on long-distance train riding years ago – narrow passageway, stale air and people, crowed people…It was good.
Our local friend had bought us 4 hard sleeper tickets. We should have to share the carriage with two other passengers, but it was lucky the two berths kept unoccupied till we reached Lhasa. Although the aisle on the train was narrow still, the whole carriage looked clean and tidy, and, non-smoking. There were two oxygen supply systems operated on the train, somehow, they could help people get used to the altitude changing gradually.
However, when we approached our destination, May and I felt not so comfortable – headache, chest distress and loss of appetite. We did hope that those symptoms were not the real sign of the high altitude sickness. Thanks god, we got better when we arrival Lhasa.
The toilet on the train was so much bigger then other trains and equipped a washstand inside, though could not shower.
As a train to Lhasa, the inner decoration was adopted some Tibetan character, especial in the dinning carriage - Tibetan style valance hang on the windows, splendid thick Tibetan carpet flatted out on the floor, colorful Thang-ka decorated the walls… 
Tibet is so a mysterious place for us. But before we took this visit, we really have no idea how different it would be. We have found out the answer in the next 4 days stay.  

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Sophie Huang

Sophie Huang

Position:Travel Consultant

Life without friend is death without a witness, while traveling is a good way to make friends. Hence I love traveling. Don't you find that you are having less and less friends while you are focusing on your work? If so, come on, join us! We are Top China Travel, providing you a tailor-made tour to release yourself, enjoy marvelous scenery, experience different culture and custom and meet people.

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