No way into Tibet (or anything even resembling Tibet)!
Linxia Travel Blog› entry 318 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
Before even reaching the bus for Xiahe, which was parked in a petrol station, we were approached by two men who kept shaking their heads at us and saying no. It was pretty clear that they had instructions not to let any foreigners visit the town, which consists of 50% Tibetan people. I kept showing the book and pointing at Xiahe, but they weren't going to let us even near the bus, let alone on it! In all fairness, they weren't rude or nasty, they were just doing as they had been told.
The younger guy actually helped us get a taxi to a nearby hotel, where we took a cold shower (no hot water until after 18.
The plan of action saw us head to a laundromat, where we finally managed to get some washing done and then we popped in to the quaint little noodle shop next door for some lunch. The kitchen was completely open to the seating area, so you could watch the chefs preparing the noodles from fresh.
There was no real plan of where to go or what to do in the town of 200,000 people, so we just wandered the streets randomly and veered off in any direction that seemed interesting. Our instincts took us into the main Hui Muslim district, where lamb carcasses were hung up along the road side, mosques towered above the crumbling old houses and old men with wispy beards, Muslim skullcaps and huge sunglasses could be seen pedaling their ancient bicycles, next to the honking green taxis. Small children would say hello and run off giggling, whilst the adults would halt their game of mahjong to look at the weird specimens walking by.
An hour or two passed by and as late afternoon arrived, we ended up in the developed area of town, where the faces, clothing and architecture all took on a new dimension. There was a much more distinct Chinese feel about this area and it appeared to be the typical scenario of the Han Chinese having all the wealth and opportunities, whilst the ethnic minorities drew the short straw. Maybe I've become a little cynical over such matters, but it seems too coincidental that the Hans are always the wealthiest within any towns that they reside in.
Of course, there was plenty of building work going on in the city, it was in China after all! The town square was been renovated and a picture at the end of the construction site showed a pretty spiffing looking complex that would be stood there in the near future.
As nightfall approached, we headed inside to an internet cafe for an hour and then bought some cheap provisions from the bakery. The German guy that we had met earlier bumped into us again on our way home and recommended that we try the night market stalls near our hotel for Dinner, which sounded like a pretty good idea.
Half a chicken, a huge piece of potato, 3 eggs and tea came to 24RMB ($3.50) and made for a much needed fix of something other than rice and noodles.
Back at the hotel the shower had hot water, so i enjoyed my first sensation of this alien fluid in nearly a week! Boy did it feel good. Having freshened up, I went out to buy us some beers, but got chatting to the German couple in a little outside bar near our hotel and had Julia worried where the heck I'd gone. Sometimes time just seems to fly by and you lose track of it and this had been one of those instances where an hour had gone and i didn't even notice!
Our 50RMB ($7) room at Shuiquan Binguan came not only with en suite (partial hot water!), but also with a TV that had CCTV9, an English speaking Chinese channel, which we decided to watch.
Within the last few days there had been a huge train crash in the east of the country and this warranted a one minute segment on CCTV9, which basically offered little explanation or compassion. On the other hand, the news was wrapped up with a five minute heart touching article on a Chinese Panda that had just died in a Japanese zoo, are these editors for real!?
There was one mind boggling fact that i learnt from the programme, and this was that 3 BILLION, yes i said BILLION, plastic bags get used every day in China.
Friday morning was occupied by catching up on lost sleep, which had become much needed. We checked out of our room and went to collect our laundry and eat at the noodle shop again. There were plenty of skullcaps on display in the street as the men poured out of the mosques and onto the streets. I had to go and try on some funky glasses that i saw the old men walking around in, but i was staggered to find out that they cost 210RMB ($30), so decided against their purchase as a comedy item.