August 12, 2011
On Augaust 01, on the way back from Langmusi Town to Xiahe County, we made a detour from the national highway No.213 and went to Gahai Lake for a short trip. Gaihai Lake is located 1km west of the main road, the national highway No.213, about 30km away from Langmusi on the way to Luqu and Xiahe.
Gahai Lake is the largest fresh water lake in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, an important wetland in the east of Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau. Gahai Lake is a part of the National Gahai Zecha Natural Reserve. Gahai Lake is under the administration of Luqu County, which is situated 90km north of Langmmsi and 260km south of Lanzhou.
Gahai Lake is surrounded by the mountains with an altitude of 3480. Gahai Lake has rich water resources with water coming from three streams from the nearbye mountains as well as the underground sprinsg. It is a pefect habitat for over 100 migrant birds like swans, black-neck cranes…
The area around Gahai Lake is very fertile with lush grassland, a ideal place for grazing yak herds. In summer, Gahai Lake is a field of wildflowers, a paradise for holiday maker.
Next time, if you go to Langmusi from Lanzhou or Xiahe, do drop here for a few minutes to immerse yourself into the beauty of nature – white clouds, lush grasslands, wildflowers, birds and fresh air!
The entrance to Gahai Lake, RMB20 per person
The Rock Carved with the Chinese characters meaning “Gahai Lake”
East side of the Lake
Middle part of the Lake
West side of the Lake
The distant view of the Lake
Wildflowers of the grassland around Gahai Lake
More wildflowers around the lake
A close look at the flower
August 9, 2011
Labrang Monastery is located on the north of Daxia River in the west of Xiahe County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province. This most important Tibetan monastery outside Tibet was first founded by Ngagong Tsunde, the first generation of Jamyang from nearby Ganjia in 1709. it is an important monastery of the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect. At its peak there were over 4000 monks. Currently there are over 3000 monks from Qinghai, Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Tibet as well.
If you have only one day visiting Labrang Monastery, you are advised to visit the interior of some buildings escorted by monk tour guides. This is also the only way that you can enter some of the temples and institutions. In the afternoon, you may take the kora – the pilgrim path, walking around the monastery.
If you travel individually, after buying your entrance ticket, you’d better to wait at the ticket office around 10:15am or 3:15pm if you come here in the afternoon. Starting from the two fixed time, monk-turned English speaking tour guides will show you around on the prearranged travel route in the monastery. Visitors should be sensitive to the religious nature of the site.
The entrance to Labrang Monastery
First visit Institute of Medicine
A tour guide ( a monk ) from the monastery led us into the Institute of Medicine. Labrang Monastery is home to six Tratsang ( monastic colleges or institutes), covering Medicine, Astrology, Theology and Esoteric Buddhism.
The Institute of Medicine is the only college of the six to be allowed for visiting. This institute is free of charge and open to everybody including common people who are interested in the Tibetan medicine.
We are in the courtyard of the Institute of Medicine. Visitors are forbidden to take pictures inside the institue.
Next visit Shou An Temple
Next our monk tour guide took us to visit a small temple known as Shou’an Temple. There are numerous temples and chapels in the monastery. People are only allowed to enter two temples – Shou’an Temple and Shou’xi Temple. Visitors are not allowed to take photos inside the temple. The monastery has numerous Buddhist statues. The tallest one is 12 meters high and is housed in the Shou’an Temple inside the monastery.
We are entering the Shou’an Temple.
The Qing Dynasty Plaque over the gate to the temple.
The tangka paitings on the wall by the entrance to the temple.
Then move on to Labrang Monastery Relic Musuem (Yak Butter sculpture)
Then we were led to a relic musuem managed by Labrang Monastery, where numberous ya butter sculptures on display. The yak butter sculptures inside the small musuem give out a strong smell, almost choking to those who are not used to yak butter. This is the only place where we can take pictures.
We are inside the compound of the small yak butter sculptures museum.
A yak butter buddha sculpture
A close look at a yak butter flower sculpture
Continue to visit Shou’xi Temple
Also known as the Matreya temple, Shou Xi Temple is a fine example of the Labrang Buddhist temples, with five storeys and a palace-like structure. The temple has a plaque with the inscription of emperor Jia Qing “Shou Xi Si” ( Longevity Temple ).
The roof of the temple has gilded tiles decorated with various gilded bronze miniatures. It has a beautifully decorated wooden entrance to the temple.
Finally visit the main Prayer Hall (Grand Sutra Hall)
The Grand Sutra Hall is the most impressive of the buildings and can accommodateto 4,000 monks. It is an amazing sight to see the monks chanting here behind the wooden doors. Each morning as they wait to go and pray.
Take the 3 km kora (pilgrim path)
In the afternoon, you may take a 3km kora around the monastery, past rows of prayer wheels, stupas and chapels that circle the monastery. The rest of the monastery area is free, but in most cases, you are not allowed to enter these buildings. It is quite interesting to visit the living quarters of the monks.
Photos with closer glimpses at Labrang Monastery
Here comes a smiling monk walking from his living quarters
A mysterious animal atops the eve
A closer look at the windows
Bronze gilded roof
The White Pagoda
On the early morning of July 30, 2011, together with my co-worker Mr.Jonhy Hao, we took the 2 hour flight CA1273 for Lanzhou to attend the Silk Road International Tourism Festival 2011.
CA1273, an Air China flight was scheduled to take off at 07:20 and land at 09:35 at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport from Beijing. Basically there are about 9 daily flights running between Beijing and Lazhou, operated by Air China, Eastern China Airline, Hainan Airline.
For unknown reasons, our plane didn’t take off as scheduled till 8:00am. For most of our flight journey, our plane flew at the hight of 8400 meters and at the speed of 900 km per hour. Our plane picked up speed and finally we landed safe and smooth at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport.
In the course of the 2 hour flight, we were quite fascinated by the landscape below us, lush green mountains, then giving away to the boundless desert, leoss plateau and chocalet coloured Yellow River near Lanzhou.
The Yellow River below us
Lanzhou Airport’s official name is Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport. Lanzhou airport is about 70km north of the city of Lanzhou, the second furtherest airport from the downtown, just after Lhasa airport. Lanzhou airport is located in a plain of a valley on the loess plateau and on the fringe of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, a major airport in the northwest China.
We landed safe and smooth at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport.
Lanhzou airport is well connected with the major cities in China like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xian, Urumqi, Shenyang, Wuhan, Xiamen, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Fuzhou as well as the flights within Gansu Province to Jiayuguan and Dunhuang. It has also tourism charter flights to Hong Kong and international cities in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.
The main terminal is a two-storey building with the arrival hall on the first floor and departure hall on the second floor.
If you are going to take a taxi to your hotel in the city of Lanzhou, you just walk through the waiting hall and see the sign of Taxi Stand and line up for taking your cab. Airport – Downtown taxi fare around RMB 150. Lanzhou Taxi
If you prefer to take a shuttle bus from airport to the CAAC Office (just opposite to Jinjiang Sun Hotel) in the downtown of Lanzhou, you first buy your bus ticket in the waiting hall by the middle gate. RMB 30 for one shuttle bus ride going every half hour. The shuttel bus ride takes about 50 minutes. Your bus is just outside the waiting hall. If you cannot see your shuttle bus, you have to wait for a while since the bus operates very half hour.
We had a private transfer arranged by the local tourim bureau. The car driver was a young man of few words. We didn’t talk much on the way from Lanzhou Airport to our lodging hotel in Lanzhou – Lanzhou Legend Hotel.
As the capital city of Gansu, one of the less developed provinces in China, Lanzhou doesn’t possess many luxury hotels. At the time of my writing, no international chain hotels are available in the city of Lanzhou.
Mid-range hotels, like 4 or 3 stars take a large share of the market in Lanzhou. In the past few years, Lanzhou has seen the fast growing of express hotels such Hanting Inn and Hotels, Jinjiang Inn, Home Inn, Green Tree Inn…
If you travel on a budget, these kinds of express hotels mentioned above are highly recommended. They are clean, cheap and equipped with in-house fast internet. If you don’t have your laptop on hand, you may go to the compact lobby, such as the lobby of Hanting Inns, they often put two free computers in the lobby for people to use, to surf and to print.
Our hotel – Lanzhou Legend Hotel is a 4 star hotel that most of the leisure or business travelers would like to choose to use for their first trip to Lanzhou. Lanzhou legend Hotel is centrally located at 599, Tianshui Road, Lanzhou, by the crossroad formed by north-south Tianshui Road and east -west Donggang Xilu.
We registered and checked in at Lanzhou Legend Hotel.
Walk down to the south from Lanzhou Legend Hotel along Tianshui Road, you will soon get to Lanzhou Railway Station. The two Lanzhou bar streets – Gannan Road and Maijishan Road, are just one and two blocks south of Lanzhou Lengend Hotel.
Walk along Donggang Xilu, you soon pass by Jin Jiang Sun Hotel, then come across Dongfang Square, the heart of Lanzhou. Again you walk towards the west, soon you will be Qingyang Road, in which the 5 star hotel Gangsu Sunshine Hotel.
Our hotel address and phone number:
Add: 599, Tianshui Road, Lanzhou Gansu Province, China
Post Code: 730000
Post Code: 730000
After check-in at Lanzhou Legend Hotel, we walked along the main avenue – Tianshui Road down to Lanzhou Railway Station for an inspection.
At the time of my writing, there is only one passenger railway station in Lanzhou – Lanzhou Railway Station. It is located below the Gaolan Mountain in the south of Chengguan District of Lanzhou, Gansu Province.
Lanzhou Railway Station
Lanzhou is a major transport, especially a railway hub in the western China. It has the following railway lines:
Longhai Railway Line:
To the east (Xian, Zhengzhou, Lianyungang), extending to Beijing, Shanghai…, the first railway line connecting Lanzhou (1953).
Lanxin Railway Line:
To the west and northwest linking the western Gansu and Urumqi, and further extending to other places in Xinjiang and to Kazakhstan.
Lanqing Railway Line:
To the west and southwest, with direct train service connecting Xining and Lhasa.
A Train line linking to the north and northeast, with direct train connecting Yinchuan and Baotou.
The main railyway terminal is a two-storey building 171 meters long from east to west and 47.5 wide from north to south.
Then we hailed a cab and got to the Gansu Provincial Museum. Visiting Gansu Provincial Museum is a must for every foreign visitor coming to Lanzhou on their trip to the ancient Silk Road in China. The Gansu Museum is a three-storey buidling with an area of 28000 square meters. The museum has an exhibition floor of 9000 square meters as well as a warehouse of 7600 square meters.
Gansu Provincial Museum
Gansu Museum is located opposite to Friendship Hotel, in Qilihe District of Lanzhou. Its exact address: 3 West Xijin Road, Lanzhou (兰州市西津西路3号). It lies 8km west of Lanzhou Railway Station, 75km south of Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport. This mumseum can be easily reached by the bus lines 1,18,31,50,53,58,59,71,76,77,103,106,129,132,134,137.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Entrance admission stops at 4:00pm. Though the entry into the musuem is free of charge, you have to show your ID card at the ticket office by the gate to exchange for a free ticket.
Every morning (Monday closed) only 600 visitors and every afternoon ( Monday closed) only 400 visitors are allowed to enter the musuem. If you travel on a group, your group have to reserve the tickets. So you travel independently, you are advised to go to the museum a little bit earlier to avoid the possible crowds of tourists.
Visitors have to go through security check before entry.
Crammed with the old Lanzhou and Gansu Province, we did need some fresh air and beautiful views to recharge ourselves. The moment we walked out of the museum, we spotted a taxi and stopped the driver and went directly to the southern bank of the Yellow River to have a glimpse of the famous Zhongshan Bridge and the river itself.
Zhongshan Bridge is a must see attraction for the first time visiors to Lanzhou. It is located west of Lanzhou Waterwheel Park and the east of Yellow River Mother Sculpture. Zhongshan Bridge is popularly known as “Iron Bridge” due to the making of the bridge.
It is the first bridge over the Yellow River of all the 10 bridges now spanning the Yellow River in Lanzhou. The construction of the iron bridge was finished in 1907 during the reign of Guangxu in Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 ).
The bridge was 234 meters long and 7.5 meters wide with 6 pillars and 5 steel arches. In 1907, at the suggestion of the local officials, with the support and help of the German businessman, Qing Government started to build the first bridge over the Yellow River.
To commemorate Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the bridge was renamed Zhongshan Bridge (Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s bridge).
Yellow River is the second longest river in China estimated length of 5,464 kilometers after Yangtze River. Its headwaters of this mighty river originates from Kunlun Mountains in northwestern Qinghai Province, the west of China. It winds its way passing nine provinces and autonomous regions – Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong, and finally empties into the Bohai Sea in the east of Shandong Province. Total basin area is 742,443 km².
It flows the Loess Plateau in its middle section and carrys large amount of sand on its way down to the lower reaches of the mighty river, making the river appearing yellow, hence the name of Yellow River.
We left the Yellow River area and returned to Lanzhou Legend Hotel for the banquet sponsored by the local Gansu Provincial Government. At 8:00pm we all boarded loads of buses for the Water Wheel Park by the southern bank of Yellow River where the ceremony was to be held.
This silk road tourism festival was said to be held for the first time in Gansu in terms of its size and importance. The tourism festival was hosted by China National Tourism Administration and Gansu Provicial People’s Government.
This Silk Road international tourism festival was aimed at speeding up the local tourism development, a big measure to realize the super-conventional and leaping development in Gansu. Through the tourism festival, hopefully it would improve and create a positive image of Gansu globally, hence greatly facilitating the social and economic development in Gansu.
Silk Road was the world’s first information superhighway, trading goods, exchanging different cultures and religions between China and Central Asia through the mountain and desert corridor of Gansu. The ancient travelers, pilgrims, artists, soldiers and merchants had created a mixed culture and left behind a rich treasure troves – military garrisons, great wall, tombs and grottoes.
Gansu is also famous for its Tibetan culture and alpine grassland. Larang Monastery and Sangke Grassland are not to be missed. Some of the diverse people you may meet on your own including the Hui, Tibetans, Mongols, Dongxiang and Kazakhs.
The openning ceremony was finished around 10:30pm with the fireworks!
We really had a full day!