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From Xining to Lhasa

The worlds highest railway line

View Round-the-world-trip on samandmarta's travel map.

Since Marta was getting tired of sleeping on trains, we decided to take the first flight on our trip to go from Shanghai to Xining. The reason we decided to stay 2 nights in Xining is that it is considered a great place to acclimatize to the altitude before taking the train to Lhasa. Xining is not a typical tourists destination but we found our stay there to be extremely enjoyable. The people in Xining were the friendliest that we came across in China. English is only very rarely spoken in this city, but everywhere people tried their best to help us. Sometimes by walking with us to show us the way or by sitting down with us and figuring out what to order from the Chinese menu. The hotel we stayed in was also the place that did the most to honor our honeymoon. When we came back from a city walk, we found that they had changed our bed sheets and covers from white to red and left a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers and a handwritten card from the hotel manager for us.


As far as sightseeing is concerned, Xining can naturally not compete with Beijing and Shanghai, but our focus was more on relaxing before the tight schedule we will have in Tibet. We went to see a temple in the north of the city though, which is built into a cliff and from where we had a great view of the city.


On an evening stroll, we came through the central square of Xining which was very lively. Different groups have set up speakers and were dancing together to different types of music, while many spectators where standing around. It was great to see that young and old people, men and women, where coming together to dance. The dances where all solo-dances though with very unusual choreographies for us. As Xining does not get many foreign tourists, we were also an attraction on the square and one family even asked Marta if she could hold their baby for a photo.


We also discovered our new favorite Chinese food chain in Xining, called Little Sheep Hot Pot. This chain specializes in hot pot with very good quality lamb as the main ingredient and it was so good that we ate there twice. The staff was so delighted to see us for a second time that they brought us lots of free food to add to our hot pot and oolong ice tea.


We boarded the train to Lhasa in the evening of our third day in Xining. This train is famous for being the highest railway line in the world, climbing as high as 5072 meters above the sea. We took the train in the evening so that we would spend the lowest part of the 20-hour-journey sleeping and would be awake to see the high-altitude-landscape. Since this train is extremely popular, we could only get beds in a 6-bed-compartment but we nevertheless slept quite well. Because of the extreme altitude, only special trains run on this line that have an oxygen outlet for each passenger and a doctor on duty. Moreover, the oxygen content in the air is raised from 21% to 25% to prevent altitude sickness. Despite a minor headache we luckily did not have any problems.


Most of the journey was spent over 4000 meters and a lot of the landscape was covered in snow. We also saw many yaks along the way and even some Tibetan antelopes. Shortly before 6pm, we arrived in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, at an altitude of 3650 meters.


Posted by samandmarta 19:00 Archived in China

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Absolutely amazing, looking forward to reading about the rest of your Tibetan adventure (and the next). So envious of your trip, enjoy guys!!

by Hugo

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