Saturday, August 29, 2009


Qinghai province of China is a large province in western china between the rest of China and Tibet. It has been fought over between the Tibetans and Chinese for centuries. Although it is culturally Tibetan and over 50% of the people are Tibetan it is currently ruled by China. The provincial capital is Xining.

Qinghai lake is a large lake outside of Xining at an altitude of 11,000+ feet. There is a Tibetan cultural center there, which is a good introduction to Tibet, and a good way to get some acclimatization to the high altitude. This lake reminds me of Bear Lake along the Utah-Idaho border.

The above picture is the entrance to the Tibetan Cultural Center. The monument is a chorten, which are quite common in Tibet and started in India as stupas. They are sort of a reliquary, or at least that's how they started. This is different from most, with a different top. It is home to a snow lion on the base, like many chortens.

The above photo is of a Tibetan nomad tent. We saw some of these from the train in the distance, but not close enough to photograph. We thought about getting one for Matt and Sarah(daughter and son-in-law), but couldn't figure out how to get it in our suitcase(limited to 40 pounds}. Matt would dominate medieval war games with this tent.

This tent is also a nomad tent, much more common than the blue and white ones. I believe it is made from yak hair.

This is a shrine of some sort, with prayer flags hanging from a pole behind the icon.
Prayer flags are very common, of different sorts, hanging from sticks around the country side, from houses and associated with shrines and chortens.

Red cheeked Tibetan baby. The red cheeks are very common, in adults as well. This is due to dryness and increased exposure to ultra-violet light at high altitude.

This is a Tibetan iris, the only native flower we saw. The altitude precludes much in the way of flowers.

This is a classic Tibetan chorten. Note the snow lions. This top is typical, with the globe and crescent.

This is another classic--prayer flags on a tall pole. This is actually next to the chorten shown above. Qinghai Lake, in the background,is a salt water lake that has fish in it. It is sacred to the Tibetan Buddhists.


  1. Seventy-five percent of Qinghai's population is not Tibetan. The area has been a battlefield for centuries, as have most parts of the world, but not 'mainly' between Tibetans and Han; add the Mongols, Muslims, and a host of others.

  2. I would take that tent in a heart beat. I did find a website that had them for sale once. But I think I'm destined for a Viking a-frame.