Asia 2008 - Facts and Information
Day by Day 2: China - Beijing to Lanzhou
The end results of the trip

What we did and when we did it

ASIA INDEX 2008

SIBERIA INDEX
 Irkutsk Streets
 Irkutsk Churches
 Taltsy Museum
 Listvyanka
 Circum-Baikal Rlwy
 Trans-Mongolian Rlwy

MONGOLIA INDEX
 Ulaan Baatar
 Choijin Lama Temples
 Bogd Khan Palace
 Gandan Monastery
 Terelj National Park
 Khustai National Park

CHINA INDEX
Beijing Index
 First Impressions
 Forbidden City
 Temple of Heaven
 Beihai Park
 Confucius Temple
 Lama Temple
 Jinshang Park
 Great Wall

Pingyao Index
 First Impressions
 Pingyao Sights
 Rule of Law
 Walls and Beyond

Xi'an Index
 Walls & Streets
 Muslim Quarter
 Xi'an at Night
 Shaanxi Museum
 Forest of Steles
 Banpo Neolithic Vill
 Famen & Qian Ling
 Terracotta Army
 Terracotta Army Mus

Lanzhou Index
 Lanzhou - General
 Binglin Si Grottoes
 Kumbum & Xining
 Qu Tan Monastery

Along Silk Road Index
 Wuwei & Zhangye
 Matisi Grottoes
 Wenshu
 Jiayuguan

Dunhuang Index
 Dunhuang & Mogao
 Yumen Gate & Ya Dan

Turpan Index
 Turpan & Emin Minaret
 Jiaohe
 Tuyaq & Gaochang

Kashgar Index
 Train Turpan-Kashgar
 Kashgar
 Karakoram Highway
 Awat Market

KYRGYZSTAN INDEX
 Torugart Pass to Naryn
 Naryn to Karakol
 Karakol
 Jeti Oghuz Valley
 Karakol to Bishkek

FACTS/INFO INDEX

9 May
Arrived Beijing 1430, long walk to car. After arriving at hotel went for long wander round hutong, quite fascinating. Worked out how to cross roads without getting totalled. Lu Song Yuan Hotel, Beijing

10 May
Had asked for early start which was worthwhile as we could take our time in Forbidden City (fascinating). Lunch at what was described as a 'people's restaurant', traditional basic place now popular with locals. Temple of Heaven worthwhile but hot. Later on our own walked round Houhai Lake, busy with locals at play but interesting. Lu Song Yuan Hotel, Beijing

11 May
Day without guide. Spent day walking. Confucius Temple and Imperial College beautifully peaceful, Lama Temple disgustingly touristified. Ditan Park and Temple of Earth quiet but so-so. Lu Song Yuan Hotel, Beijing

12 May
Wall at Jinshanling, drive long but worth it as for much of the time we had the place to ourselves. Absolutely mindblowing and spent about two hours on the wall. (Rather surprised that guide did not come on wall with us, but pleased as we took it at the pace we wanted to.) Lunch offered no choice but very good food. After return went to Beihai Park on our own, very good but frustratingly too late as buildings closed when we got there, should have gone previous day. Lu Song Yuan Hotel, Beijing

13 May
Out early to walk to Jingshan Park, very interesting watching older Beijingers at play and nice gardens. Picked up at 1130 and local guide for Drum Tower (performance) and hutong. Lunch in a hutong bedroom, very interesting to see inside a real dwelling, good food too. Afternoon to Summer Palace which was a big mistake as it was now very hot and place was jam-packed with hordes of tourists. With hindsight time would have been better spent at Beihai. Beijing West Station heaving and about half the toilets out of action for refurbishment. Night on train

14 May
Arrived Pingyao 0731 and saw incredible traffic jam at gate into walled town. Amazing place. Taken to walls/gate, round town, saw re-enactment of civil trial in court buildings. Lunch some bread from stall then later to Bank Museum (interesting but busy), Armed Escort Agency (deserted, off tourist route) and Taoist Temple. After dinner wandered streets in dark. Dejuyuan Guesthouse, Pingyao

15 May
Shuang Lin Temple, interesting but toilets foul. At our request went round adjacent village (insalubrious but interesting) and fields. Returned to hotel, afternoon free, lunch from baker again where we were now honoured guests and box produced for us to sit on and eat while watching the world go by. Very hot, threatening thunder which came so we sat it out in hotel. Glad rain stopped before we had to walk to car. On train south our presence leaning out of windows at stations was source of great interest to locals and greeted with large numbers of 'hellos.) Night on train

16 May
Xi'an. Morning to ourselves so explored Muslim Quarter and went into Great Mosque (impressive). After lunch with guide to Shaanxi Museum which, though interesting, was very busy and plagued by guides using loudspeakers (which should be banned). Little Goose Pagoda interesting. Bell Tower Hotel, Xi'an

17 May
Had negotiated early start for Terracotta Army and were surprised how quiet it was there after reading comments about crowd. Nice relaxing trip. Good buffet lunch in gift shop (here and elsewhere discounts of up to 40% rapidly offered when no interest shown). Banpo Village interesting, and art on artefacts particularly good. Bell Tower Hotel, Xi'an

18 May
Famen Temple worthwhile, interesting discussion with monk and novice, given DVDs on temple and Buddhism. Princess Yun Tai's Tomb not really worth effort (nice lunch there, though), Qian Ling interesting to see for scale of work. Not a particularly satisfying day, guide said he took very few people to Western Sights. On return went back to Muslim Quarter and got beyond tourist bit down to Lotus Pond Park, interesting. Bell Tower Hotel, Xi'an

19 May
On our own to South Gate (nice shop in Watergate Tower) and walls (interesting but very hot). Interesting to see handicrafts on stalls in Street of Culture. Confucius Temple and Stele Museum nice and interesting, especially watching inscriptions being inked onto paper. Flight to Lanzhou. Dongfang Eastern Hotel, Lanzhou

20 May
Plan B cancelled, Plan C being mulled over. Late departure for Bingling Si (nice lunch below dam). Very few people at Bingling Si, interesting but don't think it repaid the long drive and boat trips (especially for one of us who hates small boats) although part of boat trip near caves very impressive. Dongfang Eastern Hotel, Lanzhou

21 May
Plan C now in place! Drive to Xining, good lunch in hotel then on to Kumbum Monastery in hills, very worthwhile. On return reassured guide we would not get lost and wandered street markets, quite an experience, got some excellent bread for tea. Westerners obviously a strange sight to locals. Had to say 'hello' to every tiny leaving school which was finishing as we were passing. Qinghai Hotel, Xining

22 May
Back to Lanzhou via ordinary road so interesting run. Guide's boss thought we should be taken to Ginghai Hu Lake but guide reckoned it was boring and suggested we go to Qutan Monastery in hills. Glad we did as nice scenery and amazing place with some original buildings from 1391. Lunch in Ledu in small family caff, simple but very good. Dongfang Eastern Hotel, Lanzhou

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