Easy Cleaning In the Shanghai Museum

Easy Cleaning In the Shanghai Museum


A Cushy Job

I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw this guy just squat down on the moving escalators and begin cleaning the side panels as he was carried down through the floors of Shanghai’s swanky Museum.

  It certainly was efficient.

Amazing Xiahe

Xiahe 夏河: November 1990 From our Diary

Gansu province, China

PREVIOUS ARTICLES: 1 Xiahe revisited 2 Xiahe & the Labrang Monastery 3 Excursions from Xiahe 4 Xiahe; a Reflection


Amazing Xiahe: This is the final part of our travel report on Xiahe and the Labrang Monastery in China’s Gansu Province. The article is an unedited extract from the diary that Margie kept during our two year trip around Asia and the Middle East. The trip began in Lahore, Pakistan in early October 1990. By late November 1990 we had reached Xiahe.  Though we have now visited Xiahe 3 times (see previous articles), it was our first visit that really stood out, probably because  we hadn’t really experienced Tibetan culture before.

Xiahe old photos 1990
Xiahe Monks 1990

Wednesday 21/11/ 1990 (Lanzhou to Xiahe)

We have to get up early to catch the 7.30 bus to Xiahe; the only one of the day. The scenery gradually becomes more and more interesting. The whole morning we have been driving through a winter landscape of soft brown, reddish and yellowish shades. Every available scrap of land is being used: all the mountains have been terraced and divided into tiny vegetable plots, while the fields are used to grow potatoes, cereals and barley. There are haystacks everywhere and corns on the cob on every roof, drying. The villages, of a pinkish-brown hue, form an indistinguishable part of the landscape.

Xiahe old photos 1990
Bus Ticket

Looking out of the bus window, we can see many non-Chinese people, walking along the road. Most of them closely resemble Uyghur people, and they are wearing greatcoats, animal skins and furs, as well as heavy leather boots. The majority seem to be Muslims, judging by the white skull caps of the men and the black velvet and lace headscarves of the women. Many of the men also wear the large, round, horn-rimmed sunglasses that seem to be typical around here.

We stop for lunch just outside Linxia, a large Muslim market town, situated atop a reddish loess plateau. We can see lots of yaks milling about; as well as a whole pile of severed yak heads lying in a cart. Apart from yaks, there is a busy traffic of donkeys, pony’s and bicycles. Lunch, of course, consists of beef noodles, eaten at a street stall.

Continue reading “Amazing Xiahe”

Xiahe Revisted: 1990 / 2004 / 2011

Xiahe Revisited

Stage 7 of our 2011 trip (from our diaries) & Part one of a series of articles on Xiahe (Gansu Province) and the Labrang Monastery

Part 2  Part 3   Part 4  Part 5 

Xiahe Revisted: 1990 / 2004 / 2011

Getting there from Lanzhou: 18/9/2011

Xiahe Revisted: 1990 / 2004 / 2011: When we emerge from our hotel at 6.00am to catch the 7.30 bus, it’s still pitch-black and still pouring with rain. Yet, we are lucky because for once there’s a taxi waiting by the gates, and we don’t even hit one of those infernal Lanzhou traffic jams! At the station, we find a handful of shivering passengers huddled in the spartan hall. The toilet is in a little shack to the right of the waiting room, with a gorgeous, but miserable-looking, soaking-wet Husky tied up out front.

Lanzhou Street

Third Visit

The bus leaves on time, half-full and with only a couple of tourists on board, none of them Westerners. Our driver moves slowly and carefully down the brand-new, almost deserted, motorway. Adam starts reminiscing about how this ride once took 10 hours … back in 1990. For this is not our first visit to Xiahe, or even second, but our third!

Xiahe  1990
Xiahe 1990

We whizz through Linxia; now a large, bland, Chinese city, but then an exotic market town with a distinctly Muslim feel to it.

Suddenly there is Snow

Next, an amazing thing happens: we enter the third tunnel with rain drumming on the roof of our bus and streaming down the windows, and emerge onto a dry patch of road… There is snow on the mountains in the distance and, suddenly, our bus is driving through a flurry of snow as well. And this is only mid-September.

Continue reading “Xiahe Revisted: 1990 / 2004 / 2011”

Weishan Home of the Yi Minority

In 2015 Weishan’s famous 14th Century Gongchen Tower was destroyed in a fire.
See pre-fire photos below

Weishan 巍山

Weishan Home of the Yi Minority
Yi Minority Man near Weishan
Yi Minority Man near Weishan

Weishan; home of the Yi Minority in China’s Yunnan province, on a mid-summer’s afternoon is a sleepy place where nothing much happens.

Card Playing Yi Weishan
Card Playing Yi Weishan

This is small town China

This is small town China, where pipe smoking, card playing men squat on small bamboo stools that spill out onto the pavement and street, and while away their days in the teahouses.

Drying Noddles in Weishan
Drying Noddles in Weishan

Women sit by the roadside, grilling vegetables, or tend to their small shops. Long strings of drying noodles sway in the gentle breeze and baskets of freshly picked boletus, neatly arranged in wicker baskets, wait for buyers.

Drying Noodles Weishan
Drying Noodles Weishan

Local transport is equally divided between the motorized and the equine, with trishaws and horse carts vying for right of way in the narrow streets. The peace is only broken by the antics of the local madman who runs up and down the street, naked apart from something resembling a Polynesian skirt, and provides the principal entertainment of the day.

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A Few Days in Zhangye

A Few Days in Zhangye (Gansu Province) 张掖

Stage 6: Zhangye and around

(see stages 1  2  3  4  5  of our 2011 trip)

& Danxia Landforms Geology Park 张掖丹霞地貌

& Mati Si / 马蹄寺

A Few Days in Zhangye: Zhangye Temple
A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple

A Few Days in Zhangye: Getting there from Alashan Yuoqi

A few days in Zhangye 张掖, the friendly and attractive city in western Gansu province, is best way to get to know this remote area of China. Zhangye is only a three to four hour bus ride away from the Inner Mongolian town of Alashan Youqi, the gateway to the Badan Jarain Desert. And, as the friendly ticket lady at Youqi’s bus station had assured Adam two days ago, there are no problems getting tickets. So we swap the tickets for the 15.00 bus which the Badain Jaran travel agency had erroneously bought us, and hop on the 8.30 one instead.

A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple
A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple

The bus starts out half-empty, but doesn’t stay that way for long. This is still peasant country, where local people prefer to line up by the road side with their sacks and bundles, waiting for the bus to pick them up, rather than make their way to the bus station. The main difference with 20 years ago is that most of the transactions, involving pick- ups and drop- offs, are arranged on mobile phones these days.

A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple
A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple

The other thing that takes us back into time is the speed of the ride; or rather, the lack of it. In fact, we have seldom come across a driver less in a hurry. Though we normally want our buses to go slowly and carefully, ever fearful of accidents, even we think that this guy could speed up a bit.

Continue reading “A Few Days in Zhangye”

Helan Shan Gunzhongkou 银川与滚钟口

Gunzhongkou (滚钟口)

Helan Shan Gunzhongkou  银川与滚钟口
Sunflowers at Gunzhongkou

Helan Shan Gunzhongkou 银川与滚钟口

Helan Shan Gunzhongkou 银川与滚钟口 was our next stop after the Xi Xia Tombs. Gunzhongkou is an historic village that once guarded a pass through the mountains. The village is located at the foot of the rough and rugged Helan Shan mountains (贺兰山) which dominate the area around Yinchuan. The Helan Shan Mountain Range  forms a formidable and protective barrier between the city and the barren wastelands of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia.

Helan Shan Gunzhongkou  银川与滚钟口
Helan Shan near Gunzhongkou

Not so much a village, though there is a temple and a hand-full of houses, Gunzhongkou is a scenic area in which you can take walks (along marked trails) to pavilions and Continue reading “Helan Shan Gunzhongkou 银川与滚钟口”

Qiunatong last village before Tibet

Qiunatong 秋那通

Qiunatong last village before Tibet is China at its most spectacular. Magnificent scenery, fierce canines, and laid-back locals await you on your visit to Qiunatong 秋那通, one of the last villages in Yunnan云南 before you enter Tibet西藏.

Beautiful old Church

Barring a few hamlets, Yunnan province virtually ends at Qiunatong. At least all paved roads end here ( this has now changed). If you walk or cycle west of here for a day or so, you’ll find end up in Tibet proper. That is if you don’t stumble upon a Chinese border security post!

Map-of-Bingzhongluo and around

The Village

The Nu village 怒族 of Qiunatong is an attractive collection of large wooden farm houses set amongst Continue reading “Qiunatong last village before Tibet”

Dong Feng Tibetan Village

Dong Feng 东风 (Bingzhongluo 丙中洛-Nujiang Valley怒江谷)

Dong Feng Tibetan Village

Dong Feng Tibetan Village offers one of the easiest day trips from Bingzhongluo 丙中洛. Head north out of town along the main road and you’ll soon find yourself on a wide dirt tract with a river running below it.

Cathoolic Church Dong Feng Tibetan Village

Continue for a few meters and the path veers sharply left; all of a sudden, Bingzhongluo has disappeared and Dong Feng comes into view.

Snow Mountain Dong Feng Tibetan Village

Dong Feng Tibetan Village: A stunning Walk: So Close yet so far

Unfortunately, distances around here are deceptive. The steepness of the mountain slopes makes everything look closer than it actually is, and the path to Dong Feng is no exception.

Dong Feng Tibetan Village

As you enter the valley, the village looks tantalisingly close, sitting there directly in front of you, a mere stone’s throw away, but alas, on the other side of the river.

Continue reading “Dong Feng Tibetan Village”

Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet

Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet 丙中洛


Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet
Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet

Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet: Arriving

Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet is reached by the beautiful road from Gongshan 贡山 (see previous article).  The road ends at the one-street town of Bingzhongluo 丙中洛 (Bingzhongluo has expanded in recent years).

Market day in Bingzhongluo
Market day in Bingzhongluo

It is difficult to find a town in a more remote place in China that is accessible by road on public transport. More than 350 kilometres separate this outpost from Liuku 六库, the town at the mouth of the Nujiang valley 怒江谷, from where there are connections to the rest of Yunnan Province 云南省.

Bingzhongluo Locals
Hanging out in Bingzhongluo

Arrive on a sunny morning, and you will find Bingzhongluo bustling with ethnic minorities shopping for provisions or chatting with friends.

Market with a great view
Market with a great view

Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet: The Nujiang River

Take in the town’s dramatic location, set below the magnificent slopes of the snow-capped mountains gleaming in their various shades of radiant green, and above the raging waters of the Nujiang River, seemingly in a frenetic rush to reach Myanmar and empty itself in the Bay of Bengal, and you can easily imagine you’ve arrived in the Shangri-La of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.

Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet
Mountain View From Bingzhongluo

On the other hand, should you arrive in Bingzhongluo late on a rainy, damp and misty evening, make your way past the flooded pot holes, dodge the mangy dogs fighting over scraps strewn across the street from the overturned bins, and you might ask yourself why you’d made the effort to get there.

Young Rubbish Collecters in Bingzhongluo
Young Rubbish Collectors

As always, the truth about Bingzhongluo lies somewhere in the middle. It’s a kilometre long stretch of old wooden shacks, hastily built concrete shops, and China’s trademark white- tile administrative buildings. And yet, Continue reading “Bingzhongluo Gateway to Tibet”