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Polluted, dirty, crowded, and loud, Lanzhou (兰州) in Gansu can be a bit overwhelming on first impressions. This city is ranked in the top 30 most polluted cities in the world according to Blacksmith Institute. Although most tourists arrive in town and then try to leave right away, Lanzhou is worth a day. The city has an excellent provincial museum, several nice mosques and amazing noodle dishes!
Lanzhou historically has been a major crossing point over the Yellow River. Its location at the southern end of the Hexi Corridor made Lanzhou an important stopping point along the southern Silk Road. Although different groups ruled Lanzhou at different times, Chinese Dynasties were the main rulers and influencers of Lanzhou. Lanzhou was made into a provincial capital in the Qing Dynasty when Gansu was designated as its own province. Today Lanzhou is a center for heavy industry and oil production.
All major Muslim and Chinese holidays are celebrated here.
Lanzhou has a moderate temperate climate and is very dry. June to September is summertime with average daytime temperatures between 24 °C and 28 °C and nights around 15 °C. Winters last from late November to early March, with daytime temperatures mostly between 2 °C and 8 °C and nights between -3 °C and -9 °C. Although there is some occasional snow or rain, winters are dry. Most of the rain falls during the summer season from May to September with August being the wettest month at around 80 mm.
Lanzhou Train Station (兰州火车站) is a major gateway for reaching the east or west of China. There are several trains a day to all major cities in China and Gansu. Make sure to book your tickets in advance because trains sell out quickly. There are also several trains a day to Lhasa, depending on the time of the year.
As always remember that the bus system in China is expanding rapidly. Remember to double check bus schedules with other travelers or hotel staff to make sure you go to the right station.
|Gansu Nongken Hotel||No.8 Pingliang Road Chengguan District||HOTEL||-|
Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.
Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.
When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.
If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.
China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.
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