Qinghai Hu, Xining, China

Xining is located in the Qinghai province, a region on the north-eastern border of Tibet. Again we caught a train from Urumqi to Xining, this time though we had four people per room, but since we had the bottom bunks it wasn’t too bad.

We decided to spend some of our time in Qinghai exploring the outer areas, and I was drawn to the idea of visiting Qinghai Hu (Lake Kokonor) and in particular Niao Dao (or Bird Island), a breeding ground for wild geese, gulls and other birds. With an extra few days before our train to Lhasa, we decided to arrange a trip to Qinghai.  I called China Travel Service (CTS) Xining and was fortunate to get through to a helpful English speaking man who helped us join a day tour (yes, another one!). It was to cost 120 Yuan for the over three-hundred kilometre trip to Qinghai Hu and included a visit to Niao Dao, tickets were extra.

The following morning our transport picked us up bright and early at 7am. Our group was a much younger group, and once again a young English speaking Chinese guy took us under his wing and translated where he could.

Dang’r, a traditional Chinese town

Our first stop was Dang’r, which was an old traditional Chinese town about seventy kilometres from Xining. The old city consisted of a Children’s school, government with court, and a Temple of Confucius. Dang’r is said to have been an important cultural city along the Tang-Tibet and Silk Road routes.

Statues of travellers along the Silk RoadThe City God Temple at DangaerOne of the interesting statues found inside the City God temple
A red lantern hanging inside the City God Temple at DangaerFresco of traditional Chinese man eating dumplings found inside the City God TempleInside the courtyard of the City God Temple at Dangaer
Chinese Buddha statue inside the City God Temple at DangaerIncense burning at the City God Temple at DangaerMemorial Archway at Dangaer
Three traditional lions heads above a doorwayEntrance to the Dangaer Administrative HallMan wearing traditional clothes of a Chinese judge
Traditional clothes of a Chinese manTravis wandering the old street of DangaerConfucius at the Confucius Temple
Chinese lion at the entrance to the Theatre at DangaerThe Theatre at traditional Chinese town DangaerMemorial Archway at Dangaer
The traditional dress of many Chinese ethnic peopleThe traditional dress of many Chinese ethnic peopleThe traditional dress of many Chinese ethnic people
The traditional dress of many Chinese ethnic peopleThe traditional dress of many Chinese ethnic peopleThe traditional dress of many Chinese ethnic people

Zan Pu Linka (Royal Garden)

The second stop was a Tibetan temple (Zan Pu Linka, meaning Royal Garden) which had some beautiful murals. From what I could gather, the gist of the temple’s purpose was to unite Han Chinese and Tibetan culture.

Yaks and Pagodas

After the temple, we witnessed some amazing scenery. Snow capped mountains, against a clear blue sky, bright green grasslands scattered with yaks, goats and sheep. On the way to Qinghai Hu we drove through an elevated land which had a few picturesque pagodas located atop some hills (the twin pagodas of Sun Moon Pass). We stopped for some photos and a came across a Tibetan lady with a baby yak. She thrusted it into my arms and the next thing I knew we were paying 5 Yuan for photos with it. It was a simply adorable creature though!

The twin pagodas of Sun Moon Pass with prayer flags on the hillsA white yakA man and his yak
A man and his yakOne of the two twin pagodasSonya and a baby yak
Sonya and a baby yakA large yak at the front of the pagodaA man and his baby yak
One of the two twin pagodasSnow capped mountains, against a clear blue skyBright green grasslands scattered with yaks

Niao Dao (Bird Island)

Finally after many hours of travelling we reached Niao Dao. Also packed with Chinese tourists, we spent some time visiting the various attractions on the island. There were many birds as it is breeding season.  Surprisingly one of the highlights were the hovering gulls, I’d never seen anything like it!

The entrance to the Eggs Observation CorridorThe extremely long Eggs Observation CorridorHundreds of wild geese during breeding season
Flying wild geese at Niao DaoThe wild geese at bird islandA wild geese taking flight
A wild geese in the airThe grasslands with Buddhist prayer flagsHundreds of nesting cormorants on a rocky island
Hundreds of nesting cormorants on a rocky islandNesting cormorants on a rocky islandHundreds of nesting cormorants on a rocky island
The rocky cliffs situated on the edges of Lake KokonorThe grasslands located on the edges of Lake KokonorFlying gulls at Niao Dao
Flying gulls at Lake KokonorFlying gulls at Bird IslandFlying gulls at Niao Dao
Flying gulls at Lake KokonorFlying gulls at Bird IslandSonya feeding some gulls at Niao Dao

All in all it was a good day and restored our faith in day tours!

  • Sukey

    I want a baby yak!!!