Monday, December 1

China, Day Eight: Arriving in Lanzhou

Bit of a logistical day today, as we left the hotel late to catch our flight to Lanzhou. We arrived in the capital of Gansu Province much later than we had expected - 4:15pm to be precise. In short our Monday had pretty much been killed.

Lanzhou City was bigger than we were expecting. I guess that was obvious - after all it is a capital and does have its own airport and stuff, but I am ashamed to admit that I was relieved to find large hotels and restaurants here too. I didn't even mind the excessive use of neon lighting! It's very Las Vegas or Dubai, and just goes to show how bling has penetrated even the most remote and modest (or at least what I thought was remote and modest) parts of the world.

Despite arriving late, we did manage to salvage something of the day as we visited the largest and most impressive mosque in the city. Xiguan Mosque was pretty cool, but we were too late for Esha prayer - hopefully we'll get to join a congregation there at some point. It's actually one of a pretty incredible number of mosques (unlike Beijing and Xian these were newer and so were of a more Arab style with minarets and all) dotted around the city - I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that if I didn't know better I'd have thought I was in a Muslim town. Even our guide is a Chinese Muslim!

Famous for The Silk Road and some temples, Lanzhou is an unusual place for tourists to visit, especially ones on their first visit to China. We weren't here to be tourists though, at least not the type who sight see. No, Lanzhou was actually more of a springboard into our next and final destination for which we leave for tomorrow - and as such you'll have to wait for my next post for the lowdown there.

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