Xining – First Impressions

As COVID continues to affect the world, we continue to be unable to go home. Although Canada did recently lift the mandatory 2 week quarantine for vaccinated people coming into Canada, they are not recognizing the Chinese vaccines, so we were forced to stay here for the second summer in a row.

Dave and I are now fully vaccinated, but we still need COVID tests to travel through China, and most other countries don’t recognize China’s vaccine, although it has been proven to offer quite a lot of protection and reduced symptoms if you do happen to catch the virus.

Of course, staying in Suzhou didn’t really appeal to us, so we decided to plan an epic 5 week trip across 10 provinces and a huge range of places in China. Our first stop: Qinghai Province

Qinghai, where the average elevation is over 3000 meters above sea level!

Our original plan was to go to Tibet and see Everest and Lhasa, but those plans were thwarted due to permit issues. Even with a valid Chinese visa, you can’t actually visit TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) without a special permit issued by the government. And although Tibet opened again for international tourists in May, permits still aren’t actually being issued. So, we decided to see other areas of the Tibetan Plateau instead.

TAR is Tibet as you know it (the part that is furthest west), but the Tibetan Plateau also includes a much larger space, where you will still see Tibetan culture.

This morning, we flew to Xining, which is the capital of Qinghai Province. Although the Province is huge, there are only a handful of really popular tourist spots in the area. Xining itself is a pretty city, with much cleaner air than we have on the east coast. I prefer it to Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, where we spent our October Holiday. People here are friendlier and the city is more modern.

The flight in was on a tiny plane, and we were lucky enough to have a bunch of kids sitting directly behind us, screaming the entire way…

We spent today exploring the area with the friends we are spending the next week with: Ian and Andy. A couple of Andy’s friends have joined as well, and the 6 of us enjoyed a chill day of sight seeing and COVID tests.

We found 2 beautiful mosques today. They were quite different from one another. The first seemed a lot older, but with several modern (and culturally Chinese) elements added.

The second mosque seemed newer and was definitely more grand. There was a secondary area near the back, where the walls were brown (the rest of the mosque was white). The whole area was very peaceful and beautiful.

Our last stop for the day was at the old city wall. We were there after dark and got to see part of it all lit up and beautiful!! Definitely one of my favorite things about China is the way they use lights to keep things intriguing, even in the dark.

Our first day in Xining was lovely! Looking forward to tomorrow, when we head out to Qinghai Lake!!!

Check back for day 2!

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