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  • Day1

    We landed in Xi'an airport at midnight. We were all tired so we took a taxi and went straight to our hostel. It was called 7 Sages Youth Hostel. After freshening up I slept at about 3am only to be up again by 6am. We went to the bus statiom nearby and took bus no. 5 (306) at around 8am to see the Terracotta warriors.

    So this is sort of an musoleum consisting of 3 archeological pits found in 1974 and their excavation is still in progress. These statues are life sized and are very detailed. Of course, alot of them were already damaged when they were found. To me, it seems like an ancient king wanted to make a time capsule, and he had too much time and money on his hands.

    After that we headed to the Muslim Culture Street. So much food here we just couldn't stop eating. The pomegranate juice was to die for. It is pomegranate season right now, so they are everywhere. We had some Osmanthus cake and dumplings as well as some frozen yoghurt, and lastly fried squid.

    As we continued walking, we stumbled upon souvenir shops. Tshirts, key chains and magnets, but what I liked the most was the artwork. Planning to get that when i come back towards the end of the trip.

    Then we came across the Great Mosque of Xi'an. Beautiful courtyard and intricate architecture. This place was built on 742AD during the Tang dynasty making it 1300 years old.

    After that we headed back to our hostel, made our way to Xi'an North train station via the metro, boarded a train to Lanzhou. The journey took us 3 hours so we reached at 11.30pm and then got lost in finding our hostel so we finally reached at midnight again.

    Going to have to wake up at 6am later as our train to Zhangye is at 7.20am. We couldn't get a direct train from Xi'an to Zhangye so we had to break it up for bit. On the bright side, I got a bed to sleep on.
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  • Day2

    Today we woke up at 6am and left on a train to Zhangye by 7.30am. We reached 3 hours later and we had trouble storing our luggage at the train station because apparently they don't have a luggage storage room. Luckily there was a convenience store nearby that offered that. How very convenient for us. We then hired a day taxi (friend of the store owner) and he brought us to eat as well as to visit some tourist spots.

    Of course, the reason we went to Zhangye was fo see the colourful mountains of Zhangye National Geopark but that is almost an hour from town, so we decided to visit the Zhangye Buddhist Temple first. Now, the interesting thing about the temple is that it is home to the largest clay sleeping Buddha statue with a wooden core in Asia. However, taking pictures of it was not allowed so I took pictures of the building and surrounding instead. We spent about an hour there and then we left to see the Danxia colourful hills.

    The entrance fee to this park is ¥75. Good thing is that is offers buses to the different platforms, as it was a rather sunny day. These hills are a result of years of geological activity causing it to erode and appear to have a myriad of colours. From what I heard, its even more colourful if it rains the day before, which was not the case for us. But anyway, still a magnificent sight. A fun fact: the 2015 Hollywood film "Great Wall of China" was partly filmed here, amongst some others.

    We were supposed to watch the sunset at the last platform which was platform 4, but it was getting more crowded towards 6pm and so we decided to leave in view of the fear of being crushed by chinese tourist.

    We boarded our train to Jiayuguan at 10pm and reached an hour later, having trouble finding our hostel as it was in some shady part of town. Surprisingly though, the inside of Pearl Hostel does not match the outside, and soon I found myself snuggled under the covers of the comfortable bunk bed.
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  • Day2

    Flight was smooth! Arrived at 2:30, took until 5 to get to the hotel. I met up with two fellow participants at the airport, easy. Took a walk down to the Temple of the Sun park on Ritan Lu, the street the hotel is on. Lots of Friday afternoon exercisers! Dinner with the American crew at a casual restaurant next door to the hotel, all the food was TASTY - and I had a good little rice ball in seaweed from 7-11.Read more

  • Day7

    Weaving "belts" from horsehair

    Some details of their leatherwork boots

    They donned us in one of their robes and posed with us (a couple of them added me on wechat!)

    The horses were incredible--beautiful and so many

    The most thrilling part was when three men, and then when we left a man and woman rider, chased our bus on horseback

    ....lunch.....boiled sheep, mostly.....

  • Day6

    This morning I thought walking some of the Great Wall would be the highlight of our day and at the time it was! We both made it up the steepest option which was quite an accomplishment in the 30deg+ heat. Then there was the Peking Duck dinner which also was terrific. But the spectacular show we went to this evening was so amazing it makes it so difficult to chose the highlight of the day. It even included a huge on-stage waterfall.Read more

  • Day5

    I took about a two hour stroll with the other American students yesterday afternoon. Hulunbuir must have all been built since post-cultural revolution, everything seems like 1990s-on construction. As the way it goes in China, buildings may have looked cutting edge as soon as they were done are getting crumbly seeming fast.

    Dried milk snacks in grocery store (Mongolia is known for its milk and dairy products)
    Cement yurt (or ger in Mongolian) in a city park
    Typical street scene
    Example of "space age" aged building
    Tibetan-style Buddhist mound on man-made hill in city park
    Banquet style dinner at hotel last night (food is fine but nowhere near as good as Beijing, sort of greasy/all kind of the same/but neat flour breads and buns)
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  • Day13

    Finally, an opportunity to shop! We visited a big, government build open-air mall with three rows of buildings with small shops and courtyards. It was built recently, and rural ethnic craft artisans or shopkeepers can live and work there for two years without rent. I enjoyed having some independent time to roam and have little interactions with the different shop owners, who lived upstairs. Found a couple pieces of jewelry and some felted items. Also saw that one of the women in a shop was at the Buryat visit, she showed me a picture of us together!Read more

  • Day14

    We had a closing ceremony and a "graduation" for the institute on the last day in Hailar. People were sharing congratulations, it was cute! Ready to head home, things have been winding down for a few days here.

  • Day7

    Alarm set for 6.45 am to see us go into the first ship lock of the Gezhouba Dam. Quite a sight to see. Once through this we entered the Xiling Gorge - the scenery changed from flat landscapes and high rised towers to spectacular greenery and rock formations along with houses nestled in the hillsides. We learnt that there are no trades in this this picturesque area and that many family members go elsewhere to work and send money home.

    After lunch the boat moored and we headed over to the Three Gorges Dam Project. This opened in 2008 and is the world's largest generator of electrical power from a renewable sourse. The dam is 8000ft and 6000 ft wide - and visiable from space. The estimated cost to build is US$28 billion - and over a million people were displaced when it was built. It really is an amazing site to see. Added to this we experienced the hottest day so far - temperatures soared to 46 degrees plus - thank goodness for air conditioning on the coach!

    As we head to midnight now, we have just left to go through the dam consisiting of 4 stepped locks that will take over three hours to navigate - there are normally 5 locks but one is not in use at the moment. We are off to watch the start of this now!
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  • Day3

    Today our group explored (a tiny fraction) of Beijing. This city is so so big, it takes ages to go between spots. First up- Daoist temple Dong Yue Miao, my favorite spot of the day. Quiet, and the Chinese Folklore Society used to have their offices there! Then we went to Prince Kung's Mansion, the biggest example of a private traditional style courtyard house (very crowded). Then we went to two adjoining lakes and strolled to lunch, then to the China base for Indiana University to meet our Chinese and Japanese colleagues for an orientation. We crossed the street for a really lovely banquet-style dinner, much less intimidating than I anticipated and all delicious! Tmrw we leave very early for Hailar, Inner Mongolia.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

People’s Republic of China, People's Republic of China, China, Volksrepubliek van Sjina, Kyaena, ቻይና, Cīna, الصين, চীন, República Popular China, Çin, Кітай, Китайска народна република, Siniwajamana, རྒྱ་ནག, Sina, Kina, Xina, Republikang Popular sa Tsina, ᏓᎶᏂᎨᏍᏛ, Čína, Китай Халăх Республики, Gweriniaeth Pobl Tsieina, Folkerepublikken Kina, རྒྱ་མི, Tsaina nutome, Κίνα, Ĉinujo, Hiina, Txina, چین, Siin, Kiinan kansantasavalta, Chine, An tSín, ચીન, Caina, Sin, סין, चीन, Kína, Չինաստան, Republica Popular de China, Republik Rakyat Tiongkok, Chaina, ꍏꇩ, Tsina, Populala Republiko di Chinia, Cina, 中国, jugygue, ჩინეთი, Қытай Халық Республикасы, ចិន, ಚೀನಾ, 중국, Res publica popularis Sinarum, Volleksrepublik China, Cayina, Sinɛ, ຈີນ, Kinija, Shine, Ķīna, Haina, Кина, ചൈന, Хятад улс, Ċina, တရုတ်, Volksrepubliek China, Chinne, Kitai, ଚିନ୍, Китай, Maldang Republika ning Tsina, Chiny, Chunwa, Ubushinwa, Kiinná, Shîna, චීනය, Čínska ľudová republika, Kitajska, Shiinaha, Kinë, சீனா, చైనా, จีน, Hytaý Halk Respublikasy, Siaina, Ol Manmeri Ripablik bilong Saina, Çin Halk Cumhuriyeti, جۇڭخۇا خەلق جۇمھۇرىيىتى, Хитой, Trung Hoa, 中华人民共和国, כינע, Orílẹ́ède ṣáínà, Cunghvaz Yinzminz Gunghozgoz, i-China

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