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Home / Trip Diary / Qinghai / Days 72-74: A Trip Around Qinghai Lake
At the South East corner of the lake (the most touristy)

Days 72-74: A Trip Around Qinghai Lake

Sept. 28th-30th; 15,481km-16,647km; Golmud-Dulan-Gangcha-Xining

First day back on our own again and we took advantage by staying late at the hotel to take advantage of the internet as well as the post office around the corner. We were able to shed all of our extra warm layers today as we were fully back into the Gobi Desert, crossing it for the full 300+km of straight barren highway.

The New Yorker Way

The long desert expanse after Golmud

The long desert expanse after Golmud

For the two day approach towards Qinghai Lake, famous in China for being “China’s most beautiful lake”, we noticed a pattern of both rude gas station attendants and entitled drivers. Several times when we stopped for gas, attendants, usually women for some reason, seemed to feel the need to yell orders at us (mainly me) rather than explain the rule of how motorcycles are supposed to fill up gas. I know of course that most gas stations make motorcycles fill up away from the pump with a large tin watering can, but some of these stations had poor or no signs at all so I just didn’t know where to go. This obviously did not warrant yelling. At one station during our desert crossing, the watering can looked extremely dirty and when I tried to explain this to the attendant she just started gesturing the timeout sign, making a T with her hands, and continued just yelling over my explanation. Other times, when I would try and explain a situation of a missing watering can or bad signage, people would just ignore me.

Being the good New Yorker that I am, I made sure to be appropriately obnoxious in return. This included yelling at them for being rude, asking them if they had a problem with me because I was foreign, and lecturing them on the stupidity of their watering can rule given that I had filled up directly at the pump all over China and never once had anything exploded. Of course this wouldn’t necessarily accomplish that much, though it did make me feel better.

Around China’s Most Beautiful Lake (According to All The Signs At Least)

DSC_0002Rant over now. Day 73 we arrived at Qinghai Lake, a very famous tourist destination and also back up in the mountains. This meant of course that it was cold again. Though it wasn’t directly on our route, we decided to take a detour to go the 200 or so km around the lake. We were going to try and find a place to camp while on the north end and seemed like it wouldn’t have been too hard, but rain clouds coming directly our way had other plans in store and it seemed pretty silly to risk it with the rain practically staring us in the face.

The roads around the lake make for some nice riding with the north being the least interesting as it curves away from the actual body of water. The east and west have smaller roads that were the nicest with the south end being two-lane highway G109, nice but a little faster paced. We were right to have decided not to camp as well since we could tell from the surrounding mountains that there had been precipitation, which on the mountains at least, had turned to snow. Also, if you’re looking for a place to stay on the lake, we found that on the south and west sides there were little yurt residences where people can stay. We stopped at one for lunch where we also tried some of the locally made yak yogurt.

100km Tobaggon Ride To Xining

The ride down from the lake towards Xining, the biggest city in Qinghai, was interesting given that it seemed to be basically 100km of all downhill, coming back down from the mountains again. The first 20km were particularly steep, and though it evened out a bit, it was still pretty much continuous decline. The gas station attendants here were a bit nicer but we still had entitled tailgaters that felt they had the right to push past us and yell at us after going through even as we were perfectly legal in our speed and passing tactics. Well, guess I can’t be too surprised. Plus, with 2 more months on the road in much more densely populated areas of China than we have been in for the past month I should learn to live with it, literally!

About Buck

Buck, originally from New York, first came to China in 2006 traveling with some friends and immediately fell in love with the country, returning frequently including a semester studying at Tsinghua University in 2009. He finally moved to Beijing after graduating from the University of Toronto in 2010. He has a passion for adventure and travel, completing numerous long distance motorcycling and hiking trips around the U.S., Canada, and China including a circumnavigation of the U.S. (13,840km) and a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (3,500km). When he's not wandering (and sometimes when he is), Buck works as a web developer and marketing consultant in Beijing.