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Lanzhou Travel Blog

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A view from our bedroom window

People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Portia (USA)

The South bus terminal at Lanzhou is quite a hectic place to arrive, with motorbikes, tuk tuks and taxis all vying for your business. Preferably we would have liked to take the local bus, but as we weren't sure of which number we needed, or where it left from, we opted for the taxi. Luckily we got an honest driver, who turned on the meter and drove the direct route, so the 20 minute ride only amounted to 15RMB ($2.15).

Lanzhou is a city of nearly 3 million people, which stretches along a valley for the best part of 20 kilometres, so it is quite important that your hotel is in the right location, or you end up spending your entire time getting from point a to b.

Olympic mascots
We opted to try and find digs near the train station, as this gave us easy access to all forms of transport.

As usual, we scouted around for the best deal and ended up in Hualian Binguan where a very smart en-suite room, with excellent 16th floor views, set us back 118RMB ($17). It was already getting late, so we decided to walk to a travel agents, located a couple of kilometres away, to see if we could book a tour to Bingling Si. Unfortunately it was already closed by the time that we arrived.

I decided to treat Julia to a KFC feast for Dinner, as this was the only Western style fix that we  could find. Its odd that i never eat at Colonel Sanders establishment back at home and yet i find myself somewhat addicted to the bloody stuff when i travel! Back at the hotel we briefly ran into Kim and Linia, who had spent the afternoon with us at the Western Xia Tombs.
Julia at the water wheels
It was nice to see them again, as we had hoped to meet after our trip, but as it turned out, we had caught different trains out of Yinchuan.

Next we went to check up on Portia and Hannes' progress on the internet and all seemed to be going reasonably to plan. On the way home, we passed the end of a night market, where groups of men were drinking on the corner of the road. Due to the lack of any public toilets, they were all urinating up against the wall, which made for a pleasant wade through!

On Saturday we went back to the travel agency and found their prices to be rather optimistic to say the least, so politely thanked them and made a beeline for the exit. The sky was cloudy, i expect due to the smog, making walking around the city not overly enjoyable.
Julia eating candy floss along the Yellow River
I was starting to get hungry, so we went into a restaurant and got some decent sized portions of Lanzhou noodles, Chicken and Cashew nuts and egg fried rice, which gave us the energy to continue our journey.

China's most famous waterway, the Yellow River, runs through the city, so we decided to go and see what all the fuss was about. From a tourists point of view, it didn't seem any different from any other river, but its significance and role throughout the development of the Chinese nation is a completely different story. Whoever named the river would probably be quite disappointed to see that a more accurate name for it nowadays would be the brown river, and the smells rising up from it were enough to suggest where the discolouration may be coming from!

There was a performance going on, with dancing and singing, which we stopped to watch for a while, before buying some candy floss and making our way to funny looking monkey and pig sculptures.
Me posing with a monkey statue
A cable car ran across the fast flowing river and up to a temple on the far side, but we decided to give it a miss and waste our money in a water wheel museum. To be more accurate, it was two water wheels on the embankment, one of which didn't even work!

Basically Lanzhou is a dull place, with very little to hold your attention, so we wandered back through the main shopping areas and bought some strawberries, corn and potatoes to snack on. It was nearly time to meet Portia, so we headed back to shower and change and sat in the hotel lobby in eager anticipation.

After half an hour had passed, it was clear something wasn't right, so i called her cell, but found it switched off. I went into the internet cafe and found an email saying that her flight had been delayed, so Julia and I went around the corner to Dico's for Dinner.
A view of the train station from our bedroom window
We had tried the night market first, but the goats skull soup didn't seem particularly appetising.

Numerous trips to the internet, to try and find out Portia's whereabouts, proved fruitless. At 22.30, i finally got the mail that I'd been waiting for and as i left the internet cafe, conveniently located next to the hotel, i saw Portia pulling up in a taxi. We gave each other a hug and it only seemed like yesterday that we were in Taiwan together.

Julia had already gone up to bed, so i dragged her down to the hotel lobby, so as we could plan our trip for the following day. The options had been whittled down to taxi or public bus, so Portia tried asking taxi drivers how much they would charge for the 75km trip. Most were greedy/optimistic to say the least, so as much on principal as anything, we decided that we would take the bus. Having said our goodbyes a little after 23.00, we went upstairs to pack and also get an early night.

treadie53 says:
Hi Phil
What, you didn't enjoy te Water Wheel Park???? Ha!
Arrived in Estonia today. Had a fabulous time in Russia. Made up for the disappointments earlier. Also finally signed up for couchsurfing thanks to you and an Italian buddy I met while in Russia! Hope the "Stans" are going well!
Smiles from Sue
Posted on: Aug 24, 2008
JeAr says:
well, i know DA and NYET, would that be enough? :D but yeah, a one-on-one with Julia wouldn't be so bad, i guess :D
Posted on: Aug 11, 2008
Deats says:
You cheeky bugger!!! The stans are beautiful, but i advise learning some basic Russian... or i'll loan you Julia for a week ;)
Posted on: Aug 11, 2008
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A view from our bedroom window
A view from our bedroom window
Olympic mascots
Olympic mascots
Julia at the water wheels
Julia at the water wheels
Julia eating candy floss along the…
Julia eating candy floss along th…
Me posing with a monkey statue
Me posing with a monkey statue
A view of the train station from o…
A view of the train station from …
A view of the train station from o…
A view of the train station from …
A view from our bedroom window
A view from our bedroom window
Inside our hotel
Inside our hotel
Inside our hotel
Inside our hotel
The foyer of our hotel
The foyer of our hotel
A view from our bedroom window
A view from our bedroom window
Our bedroom
Our bedroom
Building in the centre
Building in the centre
In the market
In the market
Yellow River
Yellow River
Yellow River
Yellow River
Musical and dance performance
Musical and dance performance
Musical and dance performance
Musical and dance performance
Buildings by the Yellow River
Buildings by the Yellow River
Yellow River
Yellow River
Yellow River
Yellow River
Bridge crossing the Yellow River
Bridge crossing the Yellow River
Bridge crossing the Yellow River
Bridge crossing the Yellow River
Julia with a pig statue
Julia with a pig statue
Beach volleyball
Beach volleyball
Yellow River
Yellow River
Water wheel
Water wheel
Water wheel
Water wheel
Water wheels
Water wheels
Water wheel
Water wheel
Water wheel
Water wheel
Julia with a Water wheel
Julia with a Water wheel
Water wheel
Water wheel
Lanzhou
photo by: portia