Lanzhou (2), 2012

Our river cruise included a hot piping cup of chrysanthemum tea and a surprise, giant birthday cake for one of the other people in our tour group. Vanilla cake with mango slices and whipped cream frosting. Good stuff. Aside from the beautiful cake, there wasn’t all that much to look at when standing on the deck of the ship. In all honesty I didn’t find the Yellow River (“黄河” [huang he]) to be as stunning as it’s made out to be. Or maybe we’re just not viewing the right parts of it. 

Then it was back to the train station and onto the New Orient Express. 兰洲再見! Good bye Lanzhou! Our short-lived relationship will live on in my foggy memories, and more clearly on this blog.

I was really surprised that Lanzhou had such a nice and new train station. Though it is the capital of Gansu after all.Lanzhou was officially the last stop on our Silk Road tour, so boarding the New Orient Express one last time meant that our time in China was coming to a close. Always a sad thing when you know that half of your vacation is over and soon you’ll be back home and grounded in the mundane routine of home life.

But I don’t think I could give up the comforts of home for the discomforts of traveling the Silk Road. Sleeping in mud houses with thatched roofs and no doors, not being able to afford shoes, digging a hole in the ground to use the bathroom. I’m too spoiled for that lifestyle, quite frankly! I like my ceramic toilets, my plush bed, and well-insulated home located conveniently near my favorite restaurants and malls. It’s amazing how people did it thousands of years ago and it’s amazing that there are still people who can live that way.

We headed to the capital of Shanxi Province. To Xi’An, one of the largest cities in China. Along the Yellow River, past the terraced rice fields, the delicate Chinese mountains, and the tiny stone houses of rice farmers. Our last dinner of tofu, celery, eggplant, woodear, potatoes. Tasty.

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