It was a long-planned trip and I am an avid independent traveler. I had visited lots of places in China and had been yearning for a tour to Qinghai for a long time. Of course I met many difficulties in the whole journey but finally I survived. This tour will be a big inspiration for my future journeys.
Arrival in Xining from Beijing
After went out from Xining Airport, I took an airport shuttle bus to the Xining railway station at 21rmb. In fact the airport shuttle bus didn’t reach the railway station but stopped at a crossroad called “Seven One Crossroad”. It seemed quite close from this crossroad to the railway station but took me a long time to walk over as there was an overhaul for the nearby roads. Finally I checked in at the Pabala Youth Hostel that I booked in advance, 2km from the railway station. I had a quick shower after entered my room and found there were many postcards in the drawing room. So I asked my friends on the internet to check if any of them would like to receive a postcard. To my surprise, so many asked me to write them a postcard, therefore, I had to write a lot of postcards with the help of the youth hostel workers till midnight.
Xining, Taer Temple/Kumbum Monastery, Daotang River, Qinghai Lake
I woke up early this morning and washed my hair first, then came to have a breakfast in local restaurant recommended by the owner of the hostel. The restaurant is only three minutes’ walk from the hostel. I tasted the local specialty, Kunguo Momo, looking like a steamed bread roll.
After breakfast, I contacted with the private driver I booked in advance, and then we came to the first destination – the Taer Temple or the Kumbum Monastery. The entrance ticket of the temple is 80rmb. The driver told me that there were three precious relics in the temple, that is, the murals, the piles embroiders Tang Ka, and the butter lamps, but photography was forbidden inside the temple constructions.
After visited the Taer Temple, it was 12:20. The driver took me to a restaurant to have lunch but I forgot its name. It was late when we got to the restaurant; the waiter told us that there was only Zhajiangmian left! Luckily the noodle was not bad and the price was 17rmb per person.
After lunch we continued our journey to the Qinghai Lake. It was raining all the way but the scenery at both sides of the road was so beautiful!
We went by a river called Daotang River (倒淌河/Daotanghe in Chinese). The driver told us that the princess Wencheng in Tang Dynasty missed her hometown Chang’an (today’s Xi’an) and was drenched in tears when she arrived at Riyue Mountain and her tears became this river.
Having passed by the Daotang River, we eventually arrived at the riverside of Qinghai Lake! At that time, the raindrop became smaller and smaller and finally the rain stopped when we got to the river.
Although I was wearing a light down jacket on that day of June, I felt quite cold there. At last, we arrived at the Tibetan family house near Qinghai Lake that we were staying overnight. I put down my luggage and had a good sleep.
Qinghai Lake, Chaka Salt Lake
I woke up early and dressed myself with thicker clothes to see the sunrise at riverside. I waited for half an hour and finally saw the amazing sunrise. How wonderful it was!
After breakfast, we continued our way to the Chaka Salt Lake, whose entrance ticket was 50rmb. It was a big salt lake, on which there are thick salt and alkali. People can stand on the lake and take many beautiful photos. But be careful. Not to step into the holes on the lake surface. The Chaka Salt Lake was unbelievably beautiful; this time I didn’t see the scenery of Qinghai Lake to the fullest, so I would definitely come back to the Chaka Salt Lake again.
When I returned to the downtown of Xining, it was nearly 6pm. On the way of my searching for a restaurant, I went by a mosque in front of the hostel I stayed the first night in Xining. A fruit shop owner kindly handed me a piece of watermelon when I passed his shop nearby the mosque. I was later told that the owner was also a Muslim believer.
I got on the train to Golmud tonight and slept on the train.
Day four and five:
The train arrived in Golmud at 06:20. The private car driver and his wife picked me up at the railway station on time. In the next two days they were my driver and guide. The total fee of their service was 1200rmb, food excluded. I could never believe that no matter where I was, I could meet some kind people. The first meal in Golmud was their treat. Our first destination was the Kunlun Mountain Pass (Kunlun Shankou). When our car went into the mountain area, I found the mountain here was different from that in southern China.
The next destination was Kunlun Mountain National Geological Park. Here was a Chinese mineral water factory – Kunlun Mountain Mineral Water Factory. In front of the factory was the uninterrupted snow mountain. We drove for more than 40 minutes to leave this mountain area.
After went across the mountain, we eventually came to the dreamed Hoh Xil, one of the largest and highest nature protection area in China.
After we passed through the Kunlun Mountain Pass, the driver’s wife told me that there were various animals wandering on the roads. I thought she was to scare me. The fact was that there were actually some animals, but not so violent. The next place we arrived was the Suonan Dajie nature reserve center, which is the farthest place for people who visited Golmud. Due to my altitude stress, we stopped at Suonan Dajie nature reserve center. But I did want to visit the Wudaoliang. Another reason that I did not step forward was that more money would be charged otherwise.
We then returned to Golmud. I checked in at the Bate Youth Hostel booked in advance. There were four people (included me) in a room as the price was cheap. What I didn’t expect was that a heavy wind blowed the next day. The driver’s wife said if the wind also blowed in the way ahead, we may not be able to drive to the populous euphratica forest, or else we might be covered by the sandstorm. Fortunately it began to rain after half an hour’s driving. Our first destination today was the populous euphratica forest, 60 km from the downtown of Golmud.
Later we returned to the downtown of Golmud to have lunch because the Chaerhan Salt Lake we were about to visit that afternoon was located in the north of Golmud and the populous euphratica forest was located in the west of Golmud. It is said the Chaerhan Salt Lake is the largest salt lake in China, so I decided to have a visit here.
After visited the Chaerhan Salt Lake, I collected my luggage from the hostel and headed to the Golmud Railway Station. The train ticket I booked was K9804 for 200rmb from Golmud to Xining Railway Station. Tonight I slept on the train.
Once arrived at the Xining Railway Station, I took a shuttle bus here and returned to the Xining Caojiabao Airport. Said goodbye to Qinghai here!