If you are interested in the diverse culture of China its beautiful landscapes and small towns and you don’t mind to travel long hours in not too convenient public transportation, a China travel to several places in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan Province is definitely worth seeing.

We started our 8 days trip in Xining(西), Qinghai Province. Xining is the capital of Qinghai province in western China, and the largest city on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In Xining we went to see the Dongguan Mosque and a market where most of the population is Muslim. Apart from Muslims there are also a lot of Buddhists in Xining. If you are interested in the Buddhist part of the city you should visit the Ta’er Monastery.

After spending one day in Xining we went with the bus early in the morning to Xiahe(), a small town in Gansu Province. The town is populated mostly by ethnic Tibetans as well as some Hui and Han Chinese. Here is the famous Labrang Tibetan Buddhist monastery, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Also you can walk along the 3 km long pilgrim path which you can start from the Monastery and walk towards the town. There are not many western tourists but in several years this number may increase.

Out from Xiahe we took the bus to Lanzhou(), the capital and largest city in Gansu province. We didn’t spend much time in this city as we had the flight the same day to Chengdu(成都), Sichuan Province. Also in Chengdu we only spend the night in a hostel and took the bus in the morning to Kangding(康定), Sichuan Province.

We thought that Kangding would be a very small city. Well, if you consider the size of China it may be a small city but it is still a city with a lot of shops and not that idyllic scenery we expected. Anyway Kangding is very beautiful and you should visit the people square at 7pm where a lot of people gather together to dance in a group. Everybody can join the dancing. Don’t be shy and just follow the movement of the other people around you. A little bit at the outlying area you can take a cable car which brings you up to the hill where you will have a beautiful view above the city.

Out of Kangding we went with a minivan to Tagong, Sichuan Province. We had to wait for a while as the vans only part when they are full. After some time we drove together with some young Tibetans which were singing all the way. They were really nice and also offered us food and drinks. On the way we did a stop at the kham – zhe-duo mountain pass which is at an altitude of 4298 meter. The scenery from here is really nice. Afterwards we continued our trip to Tagong. This town is really small. Actually there is one main street and a small square. The most attractive scenery here is the Tagong Monastery. Next to the Monastery there is the Khampa Café which is owned by an American-tibetan couple. Here you can get all the travel information you need about Tagong as the surrounding area is very good for hiking.

We booked a two-days which started around 10am. We rode horses encircled by nature. There were no other tourists around and the landscape was just stunning. We rode the horse about two hours before we made a stop at a Mongolian tent where we had lunch. We ate Momos which is the typical food of this area. Afterwards we rode again the horse for about 4 hours and then returned to the tent where we had dinner and spent the night. The next morning we walked back for 3 hours to Tagong. It was a wonderful and great experience and a really beautiful landscape but you should be aware of an eventual high altitude sickness as the place is on 3700 meters. Anyway everyone interested in nature should visit this place. So look now for cheap flights to Xining!

Jack Li

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