Mosques in Lanzhou
Lanzhou has a large and thriving Muslim population, not just the Hui but also from a number of minorities that live in the province. Although not quite as obvious as at Linxia, further south in Gansu, there are mosques all over Lanzhou, with one of the biggest one block south of the “Journey to the West” statue. From the river bank, there are several mosques visible on the north bank, their domes gleaming in the sunshine.
The Adventures of Jane's Sixteen - Part 8
"Tue 24 Sep - Tarmac all the Way, She Said"
Despite the fact the bus was due to leave at 10am, breakfast was a bit of a rushed affair. Despite giving ourselves almost half an hour, and despite us being the only folks in there, I had to wolf down a chocolate pancake and Andy had to eat his brekkie on the bus. I think part of Alan's never arrived either!
The road out of Xiahe was just as weird as the road in. Although pretty wide, it hadn't been completed and in parts it was blocked off with concrete so you could only drive own a narrow section of it. We saw people working on it by the roadside but ... Jane said it was like this last year and that she had expected it to have been built by now!
On this section out of Xiahe, the driver got stopped in a routine police check. This didn't happen as often as I had expected it would - but then I suppose we didn't drive too much down main roads on our trip.
The road was still bumpy and made from stones and gravel even beyond our lunchstop. To be fair, you could tell it was a better quality road, it was a lot more comfy than the road to Langmusi had been, but even so there was still a considerable lack of tarmac!
Lunch was in another roadside noodle place - fairly cheap and very filling. These places seem to do only eight types of dishes; noodles with or without meat, with or without spice, and plain or in soup. Or some combination of the three anyway! But you get a pretty sizeable bowl and it's very filling and tasty.
The journey to Lanzhou took in total about 7 hours. The second half of the journey was pretty similar to the first half - same kind of scenery, same kind of road. At one point, you could really see them building it; the dust was everywhere. At another, the bridge supports for a huge viaduct were in place, for what seemed to be a motorway heading west from Lanzhou; when that's in place it should knock a couple of hours off the journey time from Xiahe.
We reached Lanzhou about 5pm-ish, and initially didn't really know what to do. We had a train to catch at 8:30pm but until then we had free time. We dumped our bags in the local tour office, in the back passage of a large hotel, and had a look around. There was an odd little underground shopping mall under the main square, selling all kinds of naff goods, bags, toiletries, "have your pics scanned here", and the like, but nothing caught my eye. Had a wander quite a way down a couple of the streets, lots of eateries but not much else.
On my way back, bumped into Jane having a drink, sat with her a bit. She was trying to persuade some elderly male local that I was just a friend, not her brother (or anything else!). They do seem to be quite a curious people.
We went to a local restaurant; everyone else was already there when we arrived. We had a series of local dishes in the now-standard banquet fashion. The big table of lads and Kiwis seemed to have a few problems ordering food, and some food never arrived for them - they had a bit of ours though and liked it (sizzling beef) so we made sure to order it another time.
Lanzhou train station is another of these newly-built ones and consequently does look a bit flash inside and out; clean, metallic (airport-like) with lots of escalators. The train was due to leave at 8:30pm which didn't give us a lot of time before lights-out on the train, but that didn't matter.
Aboard, one of the ladies passing down the train had DVD/VCDs and a player, so Andy and Dan decided to get a couple of movies to watch on the train. At 15 Yuan for the hire, 10 Yuan for the movie, reasonably cheap! However, it turns out that speaker hire was an extra 10 Yuan!! Otherwise only one person could hear it through the headphones, with stereo soundtrack in Chinese one ear and English the other!
He got his speakers in the end though, and a few of us got to watch "Black Hawk Down" which is all right if you like war movies! They did get other movies but when that one finished it was after midnight and we figured we ought to go to bed. I was on a top bunk and it was surprisingly comfy.
The movie watching wasn't 100% simple either; at halfway we had to change CDs but the new one didn't seem to work! After about 5 minutes and a bit of help from one of the stewardesses though, we got it working!