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Tourism on the Salt Lake

  Chaka Salt Lake lies near Chaka Town, Wulan County, Qinghai, in the eastern part of the Caidamu Basin.   The scenery there is so beautiful that it was awarded as an important scenic spot by the Qinghai People's  Government in the early 1980s. Chaka Salt Lake is not only famous for producing Qinghai salt, but also for  the unique landscapes in the area. Millions of tourists from all over the world travel there every year,  and now the area is considered a famous scenic spot of Qinghai.

    The weather of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in July is fine and warm, more like the cool and pleasant  spring elsewhere, and this is the time the landscape around the lake achieves its greatest beauty. The  unending plateau around the lake becomes covered with countless clusters of wild flowers in many colors,  such as sky blue, bright yellow, and radiant purples, giving the effect of a great garland. When the breeze  flows, the flowers waft their delicate fragrances. Roaming herds of yaks and horses, snow-white sheep, and  the many Mongolian tents seem like pearls sprinkled among the grasses, or a holy snow lotus blooming on a green sea. These things add radiance and beauty to the scene laid out under the blue sky and white clouds.

    Being at Chaka Salt Lake is as if you had entered a fairyland. The lake's breadth is 9.2 kilometers and the length is 15 kilometers, with a total area of 105 square kilometers. The salt stratum looks like a saucepan with a middle thickness of 10 meters, storing an impressive 45 million tons. There is salt everywhere: on one's feet, on the hills and rocks around the lake, on the beach, everywhere one looks. Even the air smells of salt. Whether it is a hot summer day or a bitter winter day, you can dig a small hole and it will fill in with brine, which later will be filled with regenerated white salt.
    You can see the trench left by the excavator ship, 3 meters deep, 20 meters wide, and hundreds of meters long, which will be filled with snow white and fine recrystallized salt in a few years. It is excavated every year, but it will replenish, so the salt cannot be used up. It cannot be depleted even in 600 years, considering the lake's regenerative ability and storage.

    The sun bakes the land in hot summer days. Here the boundless lake lives in the shifting mirages, and vapors hang leisurely in the air. These vapors grow thicker and thicker until a thin mist shrouds the lake. This mist combined with the coming and going of the salt trains and the people in the distance create a common mirage: the buildings, large and small, and the surrounding salt hills seem to draw long tails over the surface of the water and the whole scene seems to rise above the lake, inverted, like some fantastic fairy tale city in the clouds. In a moment, the sky turns bluer, the hills greener, the mirage is gone. Under the bright sunlight, puddles of lake water with different depths and different minerals reflect different colors: blue, green, deep blue, even yellow. It is great fun to wander or lie on the hot salt ground and see the clouds passing by. And it also makes one meditate on the works of god. Here, one can enjoy the sight of the modern excavation-ship spurting water and spraying salt. One can adventure into the caves eroded into the karst, big or small, deep or short. One can also explore the deep secrets of the lake through the limpid water. 'Salt flowers', so called by the local people, grow in the caves, some of which look like corals, pagodas, and mushrooms, some look like shining gems, precious pearls, some more like frozen waterfall or snowflakes. All of these have wonderful artistic qualities. If you are fascinated and want to see more, you can make several salt flowers yourself: twist a rope or piece of steel wire into some shape, put it into the saline water, and in a few days it will grow into a gorgeous salt flower which you have devised.

    You might have seen the sunrise on the sea or on the Taishan Mountain or the Emei Mountain, but it is the sunrise on the salt lake that is the most marvelous and that you will never forget.

    haka salt lake was famous for its salt in ancient times. At that time almost everyone in the northwest and central plains of China knew of Qinghai salt. Li Shi-zhen, the famous doctor on iatrology and pharmacology of the Ming Dynasty, in his book, Pen-ts' ao Kan-mu, not only described the form of Qinghai salt precisely but also its functions for medical care in detail. It was also written in the Han Dynasty's Chronicles, Geography Records that Qinghai salt in the Western Han Dynasty was sold to Shaanxi, Shanxi, Gansu, and other areas two thousand years ago. But at that time it was a place "Beyond-the-Great-Wall", so it was only the rich people who could buy this salt for their own consumption, the common people considered it to be so precious that they used it as a kind of medicine or as presents to give to friends. It is a tradition still kept in many places of the Northwest to send salt and tea as presents to friends. Chaka salt lake is a typical sodium deposit. The crude salt contains more than 96% sodium chloride with few impurities: kalium, magnesium, etc.. The local people know that vegetables pickled with this salt will last much longer and that dishes cooked with the salt are more delicious. Chaka Salt Lake is 300 kilometers from Xining, the capital city of Qinghai province, and 100 kilometers from Bird Island of Qinghai Lake, a national scenic area. It is also a spot one has to pass by on a three-days' tour of Qinghai Lake. The salt lake is next to the Qinghai-Tibet highroad and the Qinghai-Xingjiang highroad, making it is easy to reach the Chaka Salt Lake.

The Chaka Salt Lake tourism infrastructure has improved very much over a span of more than ten years. Chaka Salt Lake Hotel is a one-star hotel serving foreign nationals, serving food and providing entertainment. It has different grades of hotel rooms from which the tourist can choose, as well a 100 square kilometer parking lot. There is also the 1,500 square meter Salt-Lake Park nearby. The staff and guides are professionally trained to serve tourists. In the Chaka Salt Lake tour, one can sail on the lake or take a train to see the scenery. One can get on the ship and operate the mechanized excavator, and one can also handle an iron ladle to scoop up the salt in the manual collection area. Do you want to know how the Chaka Salt Lake was formed? Then you are invited to be on the Chaka Salt Lake tour!

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