What I did on my holidays - 2005/6 travel blog

Well, what do you know? A successful day of travel at last. The bus from Tongren to Xining was easy to arrange and took a reasonably pleasant four hours, although the scenery was progressively and predictably less interesting as we approached the city.

The Tibetans have an acute tendency toward motion sickness: they are spewing out of the windows, into bags, or into the bus stairwell within minutes of departure. The Chinese just chainsmoke, preferably with the windows all closed, and tap their ash into the window casing so that, when you open the window, the breeze will shower you in ash.

Xining is another Chinese city with no sights, although it's a friendly one and its centre at least is predominantly Muslim. There's another big Tibetan monastery (Kumbum) nearby, but this is the start of Chinese Mayday holiday week and it's so accessible that it would be spoiled by mobs of noisy tour groups. So instead I'm going into the back of beyond, which also has the benefit of avoiding backtracking to the grimness that is Lanzhou and its various bus stations.

I manage to buy a hard sleeper train ticket to Golmud for the same evening (miracle!), with time to spare to visit the Bank of China and get some more money before the weekend and holiday week get in the way. They even happily take my bag in the left luggage office while I do this, despite me very obviously being a waiguoren (foreigner). Pinch me someone.

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