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I hope you enjoy these photos from my June-July 2011 journey in China. It’s been a year.
Thank you for reading.
Day 52 Menyuan 门源 [Recap of China 2011]
We ate breakfast in the hotel again and set off early for 门源 Menyuan in Qinghai. We drove up into the mountains. We stopped at a dam to view the reservoir created behind it. We photographed the montains that dipped into a valley, lined with yellow flowers. Sheep climbed all over the mountains, which on this stretch were sloped green hills. We stopped for construction on the road, then made it up to a mountaintop overlooking the 花海 Sea of Flowers, a 30km stretch of yellow rape blossoms. In the distance stood dark mountains, behind which loomed the snowcapped peak of 祁连山 Qilianshan.
We descended through tunnels and paved roads. The old dirt track remained visible, winding the trough of the hills. We drove a road lined with endless yellow blooms, and ate lunch in a restaurant in a town in the valley. The meal included Sichuan food, and 土鸡 tuji, or locally raised chicken. The town was the home of our 27-year-old driver, very particular about his food, who said I was the first foreigner he’d ever gotten to know.
We walked the sea of flowers down a dirt path, took photos of the mountains, and could hear the buzzing of the bees, a deep murmur. People were parked and picnicking.
Day 51 Qinghai Lake 青海湖 [Recap of China 2011]
July 16, 2011
We drove from Xining to Qinghai Lake, through green grassy hills, by tents and motorcycles and trucks, and herders with sheep and yaks, and blooming rape flowers. White sheep dotted the hills. Qinghai Lake is the largest in China. A few quiet streets lead down to the waterfront, crowded with horses and tourists. The lake was deep and blue. The clouds were whipped like mashed potatoes on the mountains, and not a single one hung over the lake. The mountains sloped into fields of yellow rape blossoms down to the lake shore. We took a boat to Erlangjian 二郎剑, a saberlike sandbar in the lake, where kids played in the shallow water as if on a polished mirror.
By colorful cargo trucks and a gas station where goats ate garbage we had a sumptuous lunch at one of several Sichuan restaurants standing in a row. We droe to Bird Island 鸟岛, where we walked a windowed corridor and watched the birds nesting. The ground outside was covered in eggs.
We rode a bus up to see the cormorants on Cormorant Island 鸬鹚岛, a tall rock outcropping in the lake. The cormorants were nesting on rocks and cliffs, the green grass grew on Bird Island, and down the hill were sand dunes.
Driving around the lake, we saw herders on motorcycles and in tents, with yaks and lots of sheep, on green hills like Tibet.
We returned to Xining and ate Xinjiang food (potatoes, chicken, etc.) in a restaurant on a night street.
Day 50 Xining 西宁 [Recap of China 2011]
July 15, 2011 (Yamakasa in Japan)
Come morning I woke on the train from Jiayuguan. I brushed my teeth at a metal sink and packed my yellow bag. Halfway out of the train, I lost my wallet, but Joy got it back. Someone had picked it up under my bunk and returned it. We ate beef ramen at Mazilu by the station in Lanzhou and took a double-decker train to Xining that was hot and stuffed with standees. We met Joy’s family and had a seafood platter.
June 11, 2012
On Yelp we found “Sisters of the New South.” The meat and three had ocean murals and the menu painted on the wall. I had the hamburger steak special with okra and tomatoes, cabbage, cornbread and sweet tea ($6). The sliced yams, barbecue ribs and mac were also delicious.
On the south end of the historic district at Colonial Cemetery Park we visited the grave of a French sea captain who was commissioned by Washington and defeated a British ship in the American Revolution. The white cathedral of Saint John the Baptist had a sumptuous marble altarpiece, and we met a Girl Scout on the steps sheltering in the rain. She had been to a national conference in DC and got dozens of tokens (like the Washington Monument made of sponge) that she pinned to her hat. We walked across two green squares to the Episcopal church of Saint John, once the center of religious life in what was at first an anti-Catholic colony. On the north end of the district we saw the firm and angular First African Baptist Church. Built in 1859, it was the first brick building in Georgia owned by blacks. We could only peek through the keyhole at the pews and geometric glass. Homeless people sat to chat in the park by a statue of black Haitian soldiers.
I had pea soup ($4) and iced coffee at Soho South Cafe, a French cafe and art gallery on Liberty Street. They let us in just before closing time and let us stay an extra hour. I found a “wheresgeorge.com” dollar bill and checked its provenance: the Regions Bank in Mountain Brook, Alabama, home of my grandparents. I left it in the tip.
Men on scaffolding were molding the archway over a building off Ellis Square. Men on lifts were installing windows, and on the other corner Paula Deen’s restaurant carried on. It rained on us. We mailed postcards in the city market, drove out through a storm and had bright daylight around 7:30. On Interstate 16 West to Macon, the sun set on the road.
PS: The day before yesterday, I forgot to mention that we bought a Doraemon bobble head at “Fun Land,” a store selling Super Nintendos, dinosaur toys, Pokemon cards, and just about everything else I ever played with. Yesterday, I forgot to mention that I talked language with two cashiers at CVS, one of whom had studied Japanese and could read kana.
June 10, 2012
The tide rolled in under the dock and lapped the mossy green grass growing in the muck. We ate pancakes on the veranda, talked about our friends that weren’t there, parted.
We took the highway past downtown and out to the west side, where we ate at Masada Cafe inside the United House of Prayer for All People. A Frommer’s “Find,” we heard “best down-home Southern cooking in Savannah” and won’t disagree. We found the UHoPFAP by a highway overpass and another church where some were out in their Sunday best. Signs said, “Kitchen Open.” A metal cafeteria counter was nearly empty, but luckily the rest of the food was in the back. I went for cash while our chicken fried. We got meat and three with cornbread and tea for $7. The skin was thin and crisp, the meat was juicy, and the sides were rock solid. I ate fried chicken, succotash (Lima beans and corn), green beans and mac and cheese.
Downtown is for squares. We strolled among “green lungs,” columns and iron rails. We passed homeless people, boarded buildings and the Housing Authority in the projects. Our car cobbled along River Street and down the back alley under Factor’s Walk and Row. We watched a cargo ship churn down the river and got a toot from the tugboat of the “Charleston Express.” We ate peanut butter pie in Gallery Espresso. We crossed iron bridges by the old Cotton Exchange. A group of kids passed a Corvette parked under a brick arch on the cobblestone street where dockhands once ported rice and cotton.
We ate dinner on the south side, at Sammy’s Greens, which occupies one side of a narrow building on a residential street next to “Rent Savannah” red brick apartments. Sammy’s was bright. We had house made ginger ale, and I ate a curry sandwich with pear chutney and tofu on French bread (6″ for $5) and couscous with tomatoes and olives ($2). A “Buddy” 50cc mint green Taiwanese scooter sat outside.