Another transfer day. These became the most relaxing days of the trip. Sleeping long, packaging, sitting in the train or plane and finding the next hotel is all we did most of the time.
Today was the first transfer by plane. We took the bus to the center and found a taxi there, which was cheaper because it needed to go to the airport anyway.
Security was more strict in general. The first check for explosives took place at the entrance of the airport. Then we had lunch at a Chinese fast food chain restaurant: rice, meat in sauce, fish cakes, bone soup and a small moon cake (made of lotus seed flower) with a salty egg yolk in the center. I started to get used to this kind of food.
Then we checked-in and passed the next security check, where they looked at every electronic device and especially batteries. Everybody was checked thoroughly by metal detector as well.
In the plane, all electronic devices had to be switched off at start and landing and cell phones all the time, flight mode didn’t matter. Much stricter than in Europe.
The flight was pretty turbulent and took three hours (and we just crossed half of the country!). At least we had some impressive landscapes (which I couldn’t take pictures off unfortunately). The landscape changed rapidly from the green and humid coast to much dryer and rocky land in the center of China, a 2000 meters high highland. Most mountains were shaped in terraces and there were roads everywhere. Looked like a great place for cycling.. After landing, it was cooler as well, which was a very welcomed change.
First impression of Xining: a big city in the steppe, surrounded by red mountains. We got picked up at the airport and drove to the center. It was a totally different environment here. My hotel was a four star hotel, it was pre-booked by the University for me. And here started the really impressive part of the day. I checked in, went to my room to change clothes and went down for dinner. The group of professors and researchers was awaiting us in a our own dining room. We were 12 people here and I was welcomed by the main professor, seated next to him and we started the feast. The food was great, too much to describe here. Seated at a round table with an endless amounts of food. The main experience of the evening was the friendliness of the people. Germany is very respected in China and we talked a lot about the good relationship between our countries. We also finished a couple of bottles of fine vodka, so while writing this, I was a bit drunk.. I had to drink with everybody, sometimes several times. I forgot to take pictures this time but it was a great experience already. This unexpected and very warm welcome was a great start to the time in Xining.