China West (05) by Yo Nagaya
Ching Hai Lake is the largest saltwater-lake in China. It was created as a result of tectonic activities in this region. One time or another, it was feeding water to the Yellow River but now it is a closed lake. Although snow runoff keeps supplying fresh water to the lake, salinity is on the rise since salt and mineral deposits at the lake-bottom are seeping out into the water.
The main attraction for the visitors to this area is the Bird Island, a national park for protecting nesting grounds of Common Black Cormorant and other migratory birds. In the Chinese school education, the park has been glorified as a sort of propaganda expressing how deeply China is concerned with protecting natural environment. It is being introduced in school textbooks so elaborately; all Chinese would want to visit the place at least once in their lifetimes.
Next morning, so we did, and as you guessed, we were quite disappointed. The entry price was a rip off and we should have skipped the visit here, but to be able to say anything about this place, one must just see it. The only consolation was that the place did offer a nice view of the lake.
We stayed at Tibetan style tent hotel by the lake for the night. It was owned and operated by a Tibetan family who keeps Yaks and goats as well. We took our dinner at the main house built with bricks and mud, and slept in Tibetan style tent. The main house had a coal burning stove for both heat and cooking. The room was filled with smell of burning coal and I felt a bit suffocating since the oxygen was already quite thin at this altitude.
It rained halfway passed the night and the temperature dropped quite low (normal for high plateau), but there was no water leakage at my tent so sleep was ok although not quite comfortable. Due to the altitude, I was feeling slight headache but it was gone after some beer and liqueur served at the dinner.
Spotted a train heading for Lhasa on Ching Hai Railway. I recalled tans-Australia train, the Indian Pacific that I took more than 20 years ago.
A typical Tibetan Buddhism symbol, Sutra Streamer found near the lake. Each cloth has Buddhism teachings written and it is believed that wind would carry the teachings.
The lake is on the left-hand side with expanding field and big sky.
Dusk at the tent hotel.
Dull thumping noise came from the kitchin and when I took a peek, the hotel's chef grinned at me with an axe raised high. It was too dark to see by naked eyes, but my Nikon D3s did not fail to capture the moment with its high ISO capability.
The chief of the family. He is near 80 years old but in quite a good health. He showed a big interest in one of our traveling member, a woman in 40's, and he was trying to persuade her to stay longer. That's my man! I have to learn the secret from this guy.
Cooking and heating are done with this coal burning stove. They do have electricity and there were light bulbs dangling from the ceiling. What surprised me was that they were LED lights. Since the color temperature of those lights are too cool, I set the Kelvin setting at over 7000 on my D3s for shooting under available lights for depicting tungsten color.
Toward the end of the dinner, a daughter of the owner family sung some Tibetan songs. I was impressed with her rich voice and sound quality although we were at oxygen deprived high plateau.