Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yinchuan, Ningxia Autonomous Region-May'08

We arrive in Yinchuan, China, capital of Ningxia Autonomous Region. Note to self-- find out the difference between how government differs in a Province compared to an autonomous region. Ningxia is considered the main home of the Hui minority people. The Hui people are Muslim. There are a lot of Muslims in China. However, the Muslim women don’t hide themselves behind layers of cloth or elaborate head scarves. Most of them look like other citizens on the street although sometimes a minimal head dress can be seen. The Muslim religion is widely varied in practice and custom depending on many factors. I have seen many Muslims in Africa, China, and Indonesia and none of them look like the Muslims in the Middle East, particularly as related to how women are treated and how they look in public.

This is a Hui Muslim woman that works for the local CDC and was one of our translators. I noticed she would also sip the wine when toasts were given.
Ningxia has long cold winters, short hot summers, low precipitation, and strong winds. Each year there are sand storms from the west, some of which reach as far as Beijing. During these times, visibility is low and transportation comes to a trawl. To combat this thousands of trees are being planted, especially along the road ways.

The Yellow River (Huang He) turns north at Lanzhou and flows through Ningxia providing water for extensive irrigation and for crops. Ningxia also has extensive coal mining and provides much of the coal in China.

We are greeted by our local CDC hosts and driven to the 4 star Ningxia International Hotel and check in early afternoon. We then are gathered up and driven to a nearby lake. The lake is very shallow and is fed by underground aquifers. We take a boat ride and then go to our conference hotel where the meet with the Vice Chairman of Ningxia Autonomous Region who presents gifts to all the foreigners, and then we feast.
The next day the workshop begins.
At the end of the workshop, our hosts arrange for us to go to four main tourists sites covering a day and a half.

First we travel along this terrain
and arrive at an area where ancient people carved pictures in the stones. If you want to read this, click on the image to enlarge it.
Here are few of the petrographic images we saw.

Then we went to the Sand Lake, which is another shallow lake with sand dunes on the other side of the lake. This is the entrance.
We climbed 187 steps to the top of a lakeside tower to see this view. The sand dunes can be seen.
On the sand dunes side they had camel rides, sand sleds and other entertainments. I drove this jeep along a sand dune course. Luckily I had not forgotten how to shift gears and I managed not to roll the car over.
And we saw some sand art.
Then we went off to see a place that was used to shoot western Chinese films.
One of the areas was a Chinese western town and there was this manikin of a barber and people would sit in the chair and pose for photos. So I sat down, and then took off my cap and the Chinese watching, roared with laughter.
Finally we go to some ancient tombs and the tombs are considered the pyramids of China.
During our stay we visited the local CDC and were given lab coats and shoe booties as were walked around. One of the things we learned was that anyone having an operation in China is tested for HIV/AIDS and if you don’t hear anything in the next couple of months, you can assume you tested negative.
We all left for the airport to go in different directions. We are headed to Xian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.


GETkristiLOVE said...

Are you an aggressive dune buggy driver as well? Bald jokes are universal, I guess.

Dad E said...

Where the sand is soft, its like driving in deep snow. I was more cautious than I needed to me, but I didn't know the course.