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Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia, the Hui Autonomous Prefecture of Northwest China. Its history goes back some 1500 years. It is in this region that the cultures of Central Asia and China proper come together in a landscape of snowy mountains, vast deserts, and the mighty Yellow River. The city itself has a population just under 1 million and lies in a fertile valley where the Gobi Desert meets the towering Helan Mountains. This is an arid region with hot summers, cold dry winters, and beautiful shoulder seasons.

Ancient and modern co-exist with the city limits. Towering skyscrapers and a modern urban center give testimate to the commercial development currently underway. Beneath all of this are the back alleys of the old city. Vendors ply the streets selling their wares from the backs of donkey carts as the older local folks gather nightly in the city’s many squares for communal evenings of dancing and singing traditional music.

With one of the largest Muslim populations in the country Islamic culture is predominate and very much part of the rhythm of everyday life. The influence is found in everything from food and dress to architecture and the city’s numerous festivals. Some of the most beautiful mosque architecture in all of China can be found here. Yinchuan is far from the center of the Chinese universe and provides an opportunity for one to be immersed in a part of the world alive with the blending of culture. The more traditional areas of China in Xian, Beijing, and the Yangtze delta operate at an entirely different pace then what you’ll find in Ningxia.

The food is one of the main reasons to experience Yinchuan. Traditional cuisines of China and Central Asia come together in a glorious combination. Here you can taste all of the best of the Chinese cooking schools with the addition of traditional Islamic food of the desert country. Mutton kebobs, roasted breads, Indian influenced dishes, and untold numbers of noodle creations are dished out of the thousands of small restaurants and street stalls throughout the city. There are limited but high quality Western food options available as well.

The province of Ningxia is an explorer’s paradise. There are countless small villages dotting the countryside. Hiking and camping possibilities abound in the surrounding deserts and mountains. Horseback and camelback riding are ever-present and popular activities. The more adventurous can partake in rock climbing and mountaineering trips in the Helan Mountains.

Transportation within the city is convenient and modern, with cheap taxis and busses combining to create an efficient network. There are also very convenient overnight trains to Xian (13 hours) and Lanzhou (8 hours) making explorations of these cities realistic options for days off. Yinchuan is connected to the rest of China with frequent flights throughout the country.



 
 
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