Here are some photos of the places we visited on a three-day trip to neighboring Shănxī (陕西) province (spelled Shaanxi in pinyin, to distinguish it from Shānxī 山西 province).
The Ministry of Environmental Protection placed Lanzhou 50th out of 86 locations around China (stats for October 22). Lanzhou is on page 3, but as the results are not ranked I copied and pasted into Excel and reordered them.
As sign that winter is on the way, roasted chestnut stands have sprung up all over the city. They do the roasting on the spot, and there are usually long queues of customers.
The last time I bought some, they were 8 yuan per 500g (just over 1 USD). This stand gives out a free 'chestnut peeling machine' (剥栗器) when you buy 500g. I should have asked to look at it. We were given a small plastic thing with a serrated edge with our chestnuts a few weeks ago, so it's probably one of those. There are better offers at other stands around town: some places are doing 1kg for the price of 500g.
Due to the riots in march, for the past several months travel to Xiàhé (夏河) Tibetan Autonomous County in south Gansu has been restricted for foreign visitors. Those who did manage to slip in found they had nowhere to stay. Even foreigners with residency there found travelling around almost impossible.
Before I came to Lanzhou, I had read two pretty depressing accounts of the place, both in Time magazine, which my dad used to post to me.
"One person takes drugs and disaster befalls everyone"
"Treasure your life: stay away from drugs"
"Trying it once can destroy your life"
"Mobilize and participate in the people's anti-drugs campaign"
"Don't let drugs into our homes":
"Drugs will be taken seriously: traffickers will be punished, manufacturers will be investigated, and users will be warned."
Walking north from Nánguān Shízì (南关什字), I stopped to listen to this blind erhu player, who was across the road from the main entrance to the the provincial government compound, at the east end of the pedestrian section of Zhāngyē Lù ( 张掖路).
When someone told him the foreigner had put a few kuai into his box, he played the following medley: