August 15th-16th; 74km; Yinchuan, Ningxia
Way too many days off this past week. It turns out that the parts being sent to Yinchuan, the whole reason for our coming in the first place, were taking longer than expected to send from the factory. So we ended up taking another couple days off while we waited for the brakes we needed as our old ones had worn all the way down.
Luckily though we were able to find some things to keep us occupied as the city itself was nice, relatively developed, and with a few tourist sights we could visit.
The Sights of Yinchuan
We found a nature reserve called Gun Zhong Kou about 50km out of the city that we thought would make a good visit on our first day. We drove out and spent the afternoon hiking around the hillside visiting the temples dotted around. It was also nice visiting an area like that in China that actually had relatively few crowds, which can be rare. We even stumbled on one inhabited mosque built side by side with a Buddhist temple. They were very friendly as one man came out with two freshly made flat breads.
The next day, with the bike at the shop, we visited the biggest mosque in the city, the Nanguan Mosque (南关清真寺） as well as a giant pagoda 海宝塔寺 Haibao Pagoda that was located in the middle of a park only a few km from our hotel.
Sheep Guts on the Menu!
We had our first really interesting experience with food on our second full day in Yinchuan. We had asked the front desk what the local specialty was so we could try something local and authentic (KFC doesn’t count!). He told us that there wasn’t anything really except this one dish called 羊杂碎 (yang za sui). He warned us however that we might not be used to the flavor. We brushed the warning off, telling him we’d be fine, as we often get asked whether we are “used to the flavor” of Chinese food, since many people think foreigners don’t like it.
Well we found a nearby restaurant that pretty much just had this dish on the menu and ordered two bowls not knowing what to expect. The server put two bowls of soup in front of us that looked like they were filled with meat and noodles in a red, spicy broth. Running our chopsticks through the broth though we found out no noodles at all but only meat. One quick whiff of the soup revealed what we later confirmed by looking up the Chinese characters- that we had in fact ordered two bowls full to the brim with sheep entrails! It was as appetizing as it sounds, but I managed to eat my whole bowl of guts!
All in all, sheep guts aside, I’m glad we got to see some of this city but its been way too much time off. I think we’re both ready to hit the road!