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The Yellow River runs clear through guide
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This photo, taken August 3, 2009, shows the gentle slopes of the grassland dotted with white tents. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

This photo, taken August 3, 2009, shows the gentle slopes of the grassland dotted with white tents. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com] 

Our second destination after Qinghai Lake is Guide, a nice place in Qinghai Province, that is really worth visiting.

Guide, a county in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province, is known as "Petite Jiangnan on Qinhai - Tibet Plateau." Jiangnan, literally "the south of the Yangtze River" in Chinese, is known for its humid and mild climate, charming scenery and rich natural resources. Guide is just like "Jiangnan", which has been famous its clear waters of the Yellow River that run through it.

Our bus drove along the gentle slopes of Mt. Laji. Although the mountain is at an altitude of 3,858 meters above sea level, the road was smoother than we could have imagined. From time to time, we'd see several white or blue tents emitting wisps of kitchen smoke scattered on the grassland, where yaks and sheep grazed leisurely.

After hours of driving, we suddenly entered a russet world with ranges of fantastic red rock formations all around. Our guide, Wang Xiaofang, told us that this is Danxia, a special type of landscape formed from red-colored sandstones and conglomerates mostly dating from the Cretaceous age. Astonished by the uncanny craftsmanship of Mother Nature, I couldn't stop snapping pictures.

Danxia is located in Ashigong Village, which is about 40 kilometers away from the county seat. I met a local girl there who was standing alone by a tractor on the side of the road. She was shy when we asked her if we could take a picture with her. In no time, she was no longer afraid of us. She told me that her name was Lei Zhuoma, and she was a 12-year-old student in the fourth grade at the local primary school. She often helps her parents do farm work on her summer holiday, and now she was taking care of the grass that feeds the family's sheep.

After saying goodbye to this lovely girl, we moved on to lunch at a Muslim restaurant with several century-old pear trees in its yard. The trees were laden with little green pears. They were obviously not ripe; however, the restaurant owner invited us to try them. He told us that we didn't have to wash them because they are completely organic food. For me, this was really the first time I had ever eaten unwashed fruit, and it was really great. The pears were not sour at all and tasted slightly sweet.

After an authentic meal in this Muslin restaurant, we returned by the way we came and stopped at Huangheqing Bridge. Huangheqing in Chinese means "the Yellow River water is clear." Unfortunately, it was raining and what we saw with our own eyes was nothing but muddy river water roaring down below. The guide however told us when it clears up, the water will become clear again.

By Huangheqing Bridge, local vendors were selling fruit and pebbles from the Yellow River. However, I picked up many cute pebble stones on my own without spending one cent when we stood on the bank of the Yellow River.

Under the direction of experts, we paid a fact-finding visit to Guide Huangheqing National Wetland Park. It was a brief visit since the rain was falling steadily.

A one-day trip is really not enough for Guide. I wish I could go and visit Guide again, especially the clear Yellow River that runs through it.

(CIR August 7, 2009)

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