Monday, September 19, 2016

Lunch in Linxia and the Train to Zhangye.

A cup of green tea flavored with rose buds, goji berries, dried dates and dried longans.

After visiting Bingling Temple, it was lunch time. We ended up at a restaurant in Linxia.

Linxia pretty much like every other nondescript Chinese town we've been to on this trip. Although this is the Silk Road region, if you have any romantic notions of seeing quaint, ancient Chinese buildings and temples, scrap them.




Shortly before we arrived at the restaurant, we got stuck in a bit of a traffic log jam as we attempted to cross a bridge.


It was already a traffic jam to begin with and was made worse when a stupid bus driver decided that instead of waiting until there was sufficient road space for him to make clear turn, he would do a partial turn instead. The result was blocking off our lane from moving forward.  In turn, the stupid taxi in front of us decided to inch forward at the same time so bus and taxi were barely a few feet apart from each other - too close for either to go around the other as there were bumper to bumper cars in the on coming lane.  I hate stupid drivers!!


Eventually, people had to shift into reverse and everyone had to move back enough to allow the bus to go by and then the taxi.  Sheesh.....


Our driver dropped Eric and us in a parking lot across from the restaurant.  We entered the building and headed down the stairs to the restaurant on the floor below.


The private dining booths were all located against the wall with a view of a lake.  It was most definitely a very upscale restaurant and it looked like a very nice place for lunch.  Eric helped us to order and then left us to dine on our own.

It was another lunch of Muslim Chinese food which I did enjoy though I have to say, I'm slowly growing weary of it. I am starting to crave pork and that's not good as we are heading deeper into lamb and chili territory as our journey along the China Silk Road continues.

As we waited for our meal to arrive, we were served cups of green tea.  First time I've ever had it flavored with rose buds, goji berries, dried dates and dried longans.  A small nugget of rock sugar to sweeten it and I have to say, I enjoyed the warm beverage.


For lunch, we had some tofu - something that I always ask for.


A simple plate of greens.  Something that Mal always asks for.


A dish of what tasted like fried dough.  Still not sure exactly what it was.  Tasted okay.


The star of the menu was a dish of spicy braised lamb, cooked so well that the meat was falling off the bones.  We were each given a pair of plastic gloves to wear while eating the lamb.  It did messy!


I don't know that we got all that much.  It seemed like there were a lot of bones to nibble on.


After lunch, Eric had the driver take us to Liujiaxia Dam and the reservoir of the same name.  Hmmm....I guess he had run out of places to take us??  None of the four of us had any interested in either the dam or the reservoir so after less than 5 minutes spent taking photos, we were back in the van and out of the place.



Our uber comfy van.

Eric's lesson on China geography.

Our road trip continued and shortly after 3p, we arrived at the high speed railway station in Lanzhou for our train ride to Zhangye.

At the station, Eric took our passports and Mal accompanied him to get the tickets.




After that, we cleared security. Thankfully, Yim was able to get her Swiss Army knife through - after some intervention from Eric and the officers recording her passport information into their log.  The departure terminal was a super modern, super clean, spanking new space that looked and felt more like an airport departure lounge than any train station I've ever been in.  The main floor was the waiting area while the second floor was home to shops and restaurants.

Eric saw us to the departure gates and there, we said our thank you's and goodbyes to him. Although he wasn't the best of guides, he tried and for that he deserved a decent tip.

Eric pulling my green suitcase.


We had plenty of waiting time - our train was scheduled for a 5:46p departure. The gals found a KFC and each purchased something to eat. I opted to just munch on the food that I already have - some fried fava beans and several moon cakes. There will likely be no dinner tonight as our train ride is 3.5 hours - it will be too late to eat.

Our departure gate.  We had to scan in our boarding passes to go through.

Sal's ticket had her sitting in a different train compartment than Y, Mal and I so she boarded first and from Gate 16B We followed shortly after, boarding from Gate 16A. I have to say the boarding process works very well here. Once we reached the platform, our train car was right in front of us - no need to wander up and down the platform to find the right car.

Even the platforms are spanking clean.  Seriously.  I think you could off of them.

As soon as we got on board, we stowed our luggage in the racks up front and made our way to our assigned seats. As you can see from the photo, the car is pretty empty. I would say we have fewer than 20 people on board. In no time, people were spreading out - Yim, Mal and I are each sitting in different rows so we can actually lean back against the window side and put our feet up.

I wondered why the train was so empty. Is it not a popular destination we are going to? Is the ticket too costly for most Chinese? Hmmm......shouldn't bother wondering I guess, just sit back and enjoy the ride in a non packed train :-)

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We whizzed through the landscape of China - pretty mountains and fields of crops; not so pretty electrical lines. Cynically speaking, I am surprised that there is any green space left in this country - every square inch of land is put into either agricultural or industrial use!





By the time we arrived into Zhangye, night had fallen.  We got off the train and followed the crowd to the exit.  There, our next guide was waiting for us.  Cathy looked as relieved to see us as we were to see her.  My first impression is that she seems to be very sweet.  I just hope she turns out to be a better guide than Eric.  We will be spending quite a few days with her so we'll get to know her better.  In any case, we followed her to our van.  She and our driver then dropped us off at the Liangmao Hotel, our home in Zhangye for the next two nights.

We have finally arrived at the place where I will get to visit one of the most incredible landscapes in all of Asia - the Danxia Landform.  That's on the agenda for tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait.

For now, Mal and I are settling into the room and then we'll join up with the other two on the search for a place to have dinner.

Goodnight from Zhangye!