Qinghai Province/青海省

I remember back in the summer of 2014 when I rode the Amtrak from St. Paul to Seattle, how very stunned I was by Montana. We would see one house and then the train would chug along for several minutes before we saw the next one. In the middle, unending fields peppered with grazing animals.

In a way, Qinghai is like Montana. No, not because a river runs through it (though Qinghai has the source of the Yellow River within its borders), but because it’s vast in a way that’s hard to find in China. The capital city Xining is quickly swallowed by the rolling green hills of the Tibetan Plateau, and as one ventures further out, snow-capped mountains peek out in the distance. Any sense of security dwarfs before the staggering immensity of this wild, wild place.

Despite the limited public transportation and difficulty of the landscape, Qinghai still wins a special place in my heart, because you’ll never find another place as awe-inspiring and strange as Qinghai. After all, it’s the place that’s so harsh that political prisoners were kept (without fences, mind you, because nature would kill you if you tried to escape), and where Mars simulations take place because of similar conditions (yes you read that right). Ultimately, Qinghai is one of the most beautiful, and also most perilous provinces. Give yourself plenty of time to explore. As with most wild places, you can’t rush art.

我还记得我2014年的夏天坐了美国的火车从明尼苏达的首都圣保罗到西雅图,我当时对蒙大纳州特别吃惊。在火车上我可能会看到一套房子,然后火车开了好几分钟才遇到下一套房子。在中间呢?茫茫的田地和动物。

在我看来,青海省有点像蒙大纳州。不是因为“大河之恋”的出现(但是青海是黄河的源头!),而是因为青海像蒙大纳州那么开阔,也是我们在中国很难遇到的奇观。青海的首都西宁很快就被青藏高原吞噬了,而且你离西宁越远,你久越能感到自然的野性因为雪山很快就出现在了你的面前。你一点儿安全感都没有了,因为你无法逃避真正的大自然。

虽然青海的交通不那么好,而且山水有点危险,青海还是在我心中。为什么呢?因为你很难能找到跟青海一样又神秘又奇怪的一个地方,因为没有一个地方跟青海一样。你知道吗?因为青海的严寒气候,政治犯们就在那被困了(因为不可抛弃:大自然很快就杀着你),也是现在的火星仿真的现场。青海是中国最漂亮的省份之一,也是最冒险的。留给你自己很多时间参观。就像大部分的自然风光,你没有办法一扫而过。

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