Silk Road (2) – Qinghai Lake 青海湖


My attempt to take pictures on a moving tour bus was not successful.  There are no Viewpoints along the way and the law forbids the bus to stop. By the time we got to the so-called destination, the area is cluttered with tourist ‘attractions’ (statues, colors, trolleys, yurts, restaurants, you name it). It was a total disappointment and devastation for me that I could not take some decent pictures passing through miles of the breathtaking view.

Aside from the layer of dirty glass, there is just too much glare, and draperies in the way and the car is moving at least 60 miles per hour.

Post-processing is extremely time-consuming and some areas are deemed impossible to correct. Close one of your eyes while viewing these images and ignore the imperfections.


QingHai Lake is China’s largest lake, and also the largest saltwater lake. It sits at 10,695 ft elevation. The area measures 4236.6 sq meter (=45206.38 sq ft) with highest depth 125 ft. Watercolor is a jade green that appears to be rich in minerals and other water algae.


One gal from our group told me that this lake reminds her of Crater Lake in Oregon. Crater Lake has a mirror-like green color due to its purity, is smaller in size, but much deeper.  From landscape point of view, they do have some similarity. In my opinion, they both look sacred and transmit tranquil energy.


The gorgeous green reminds me of an old song which vividly describes the Lake and Quilan Mountains ,“青海青,黃河黃,更有那滔滔的金沙江。雪浩浩,山蒼蒼,祁連山下好牧場…..羊兒的毛好似雪花亮。”  It is amazing that I can finally relate the song to the actual scene and know how well the lyrics was written. I had my emotional moment listening to the song again. How many days have gone by since I first sang the song in grade school? How precious our life is and how lucky that I was able to re-read the textbook in the physical location.

Won’t it be great if I can take some lake pictures out in the open? If I have any regret for this trip at all, this is it!!!

Learned from the tour guide, the weather is this area is absolutely unpredictable. It can be sunny in the morning and snowing in the evening. The residents just have to prepare for all weather conditions. I bet weatherman won’t have a job here. We were very lucky to arrive here one day after the fresh snow, however.

This is the Qilian Mountains 祈連山, but my Oregonian husband thinks they are only hills. Either mountains or hills, I think the brown texture on white snow has unique character of its own.

The Mongolian Yurts are mostly white. They are nicely tied in with the white background. These are for the tourists. I did snap a residential house shot from the bus (last image) and I speculate this one is for the wealthier people.


Prayer Flags are everywhere. 経幡 is the word I learned from school, but I have never seen one. These flags are made of silk-like fabric and in 5 basic colors. Each color represents one natural element: yellow vs earth; white vs air; green vs water; red vs fire and blue vs sky. It is an old tradition that people hang them around the houses and temples. Sometimes prayers or doctrines are written on the flags to pray for blessings and fulfillment. One says the tents are used as a landmark or a meetup location. Refer to the picture below and see how populated they are within a short distance.

The above image was taken from one high point on top of the mountains, about 12,000 ft elevation. I have never been a mountain climber and this high attitude did give me slight headache. We were told to move slowly in order to get adjusted to the thin air. It was an experience. A height phobia, I actually walked to the top and enjoyed the stunning scenery.

Have not seen a Yak, particularly one with long white hair. Guess long hair is their natural protection from extreme weather. Unlike the camels I saw at the other tourist site, this guy seems to have an easier life here. The ride is brief and he does not need to climb up and down the hill for hours. I am not sure who’s on the camelback. I do like her fuchsia ethnic wardrobe in front of the blue sky and white snow.

Back home almost two weeks now, I still cannot get that jade green off my mind. It was glorious, glamorous, glittering and utterly great. I don’t have good images, but I know I will live on the vivid imprint and memory in my heart for a long time.

PS: Below left is a shot taken from inside the restaurant by Qinghai Lake. Compare the one I               took inside Crater Lake lodge in Oregon.

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