A night-time arrival by plane in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province (population of almost 3,000,000 people), at an altitude of over 5,000′ above sea level. It’s one of the largest cities in the northwest and crammed into a narrow valley surrounded by mountains that creates haze and pollution. The drive from the airport into Lanzhou took about 1-1/2 hours because of these mountains. This location had the closest flat area the safe runways could be built. Checked in to the Sunshine Hotel, a ***** hotel, but less than impressive.
Lanzhou was once called the “Gold City,” due to the precious metal that was found here. Gold made Lanzhou the most significant fortress of the Hexi Corridor on the Silk Road.
White Pagoda Hill (Baita Shan) and Temple was situated just by the Yellow River on a small hill from where there was a view of the entire city, the Yellow River and Yellow River Iron Bridge. Early in the morning, some older people were dancing, playing fans and drums in the park. A local agency was even giving free blood pressure checks which ex-Marine participated in. The Chinese senior citizens really enjoyed that and gathered around to watch the “foreigner” have his blood pressure taken.
The slopes of the hill were terraced with walkways leading to the top, past little pavilions, and teahouses. There was a charge for foreigners to climb the hill, but the Chinese senior citizens can enter for free and walk up and down the hill daily as exercise.
Cindy scheduled a special extra tour for us, the Lanzhou Normal University Museum. The head curator took us on a private tour of this small museum with its extremely valuable and fantastic relics.
Then, a visit to the local food market where this extremely friendly lady was thrilled to see her photo on my digital camera, and show off her cooking prowess.
There was just one more major Silk Road sight to see…the Bingling Temple Caves…