After a restless night on the train in hard seats we arrived in 兰州in the early hours of the morning. We checked into the Hualian Binguan 华联兵馆 just opposite the station and headed for a bit of shut eye for a few hours. Sleep was definitely needed! That afternoon we ventured off to White Pagoda Hill 白塔山and went for a bit of a walk.兰州is beautiful, it sits on the Yellow River 黄河and is in the middle of a mountain range. Even the train station is beautifully framed by mountains. 黄河itself is so unique, it's like Willy Wonker’s chocolate river, so brown and milky although the current is intense so falling in, not an option. I sampled my first melon of the trip 黄河哈密瓜Yellow River Melon, a bright green melon and oh so sweet
! The walk up 白塔山ended up being more of a hike than a casual stroll, it just went up and up and up! It was definitely worth it though with the views of the city on the river being fantastic. On our way down I got a surprise phone call from my Erhu teacher’s friend, a Lanzhou local. One of the wonderful things about the Chinese is this inclusive culture and way of thinking in which you look after your friends but also their friends. My erhu teacher’s originally from Lanzhou so he gave me his friends contact details. I had just expected some general advice about what to see and do in 兰州but he and his friends instead took us out to the most amazing street market 小吃街where were were treated to meat skewers串儿, delicious milky porridge filled with cinnamon, peanuts, eggs and sultanas牛奶鸡蛋醪糟, bean soup 灰豆汤，apricot drink杏. Great food and great company made for a wonderful night.
After sleeping in we headed off to the Gansu Provincial Museum 甘肃省博物馆where we saw the Silk Road exhibit丝绸之路 and the famous Bronze Galloping Horse from the Han Dynasty
. Was a decent museum and the English captions were actually decipherable! That evening we headed to the station ready to catch our train to Jiayuguan 嘉峪关 however, upon arriving we were told the train was running late but not how late it would be! Finally they put up a notice up on the schedule our train was arriving…8.5hours later! Holy moly! After finding out our hotel would not put us up for a few hours and thinking sleeping in the train station would be a rather sad way to spend the evening, we decided to head back to the street markets. At this point we were deliriously tired, not hungry and only eating to keep awake! After we could physically eat no more we decided to head to the only place open at 2am in the morning- KTV! It was great fun, with some cheap red wine, Abba, The Beatles and some random Chinese communist songs Jess knew we sang the night away. Needless to say when we finally got on the train we collapsed with exhaustion. Definitely not the night we had planned!