One day after visiting the Great Wall of China outside of Beijing, my girlfriend and me took the train all the way through Mainland China to Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. This journey took 22 hours and brought us through the vast Loess Plateau with its rural landscapes. In addition, we stopped at some major cities with their omnipresent apartment blocks and construction sites (for a map of our journey click here).
Xining has 2.2 million inhabitants, but the actual city centre is not very big – compared to Beijing, it felt like a small town. We strolled through its streets and found a colourful market, always a good place to get a feeling for a city. While observing the locals, we quickly noticed that Xining is a place where different cultures meet. Most prominent is the large Muslim community who constitutes about one third of the population, evident by a number of impressive mosques. The most prominent is Dongguan Mosque, one of the largest in China. While Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the actual prayer hall, it is possible to walk around its courtyard. Construction of Dongguan Mosque started already in the 14th century, but most of the present buildings are much younger.