You can hopefully guess my name from the title of this blog. My Chinese name is 郭嘉明(guo1 jia1 ming2) and my Tibetan name is apparently བཀྲ་ཤིས་དོན་འགྲུབ (Tashi Dondrup). I hail from the underappreciated city of Philadelphia, PA, USA. I studied environmental studies and political theory (with a generous soupcon of French and 一点点 Chinese) at  Bowdoin College in Maine; during the academic summers I worked as a backpacking and ice-climbing guide in McCarthy, Alaska. After graduating, I left the US to seek my (non-financial) fortune in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, a beautiful and remote region on the northeastern Tib. plateau which (thankfully) most outsiders ignore. For three years, I was privileged to teach high school English to some of the most fantastic kids imaginable. During rare spells of free time, I took to wandering about the Plateau in search of nothing in particular. I’m now living in San Francisco, where I build international programs in China and get lost running the trails of the bay area. I enjoy running, hiking/climbing/skiing/ adventuring, hummus, hotpot dinners, and playing romantic piano pieces that are loud enough to wake people up at night.

While the blog is mostly a forum for my random adventures and reflections, there is also a fair bit of travel info available under the drop-down menus – feel free to use and let me know if I need to update anything!

Please feel free to send me a message on this blog, and I’ll get back to you.

11 Responses to About

  1. Zhongxin says:

    Good! Are there many runners in Xining.
    I’m visiting Xining and your running tracks are very for me to run in the new place.

  2. Hi Jonas, I feel very lucky to have found your great blog during our travels through Qinghai. Your writing is so enjoyable and the photos breathtaking – clearly you love this part of China a great deal. We’re an Australian family of four driving around China by campervan – we will be coming through your neck of the woods in about four days and would really love to say hello if possible. Couldn’t find any other way of contacting you other than leaving a comment – apologies. I’m on fiona.nanchanglu@gmail.com

  3. Brendan Ross says:

    Hi Jonas,

    I am going to be hiking outside of Xining for a week during the National Holiday in October, and I was hoping to run an itinerary by you and ask for your advice. I really digged your blog’s information and would love to hear your thoughts on where we should hike and camp! Any chance you could email me, so I can send you some details? brendandross@gmail.com


  4. Hi Jonas, Great blog, really helpful information! My husband and I are going to be in Xining, Rebkong, Xiahe and Langmusi starting October 23rd, had a few questions I was hoping you would know the answer to. My email address is edenfrangipane@gmail.com. Thank you, looking forward to hearing from you!!


  5. Brad says:

    Well it looks like I’m the 4th random person to wind up on your blog and want to talk to you about Xining but not be able to find any other way to get in touch than through leaving a comment right here. So Hi, Jonas. I’m Brad. I have lived in the Jiangsu Province for the last four years and I have come out West to Gansu and Qinghai 5 times now during that period. As a matter of fact I am sitting in a hotel in Xining right now. I have a love for this part of the country and its people. I was drawn to it first by meeting tons of 拉面店 owners from Qinghai. I am very seriously considering moving here soon. I’d love to be able to pick your brain a little more with specific questions. If you’re worried about getting excited all over again and missing Qinghai though maybe you shouldn’t talk to me because I love it here. My email is brad_j@ymail.com. Perhaps you still use QQ or We Chat to stay in touch with people? If so my QQ number is 1900144940, that might be easier.

  6. Laurence says:

    Hi Jonas,
    Great blog, great pictures, makes me really looking forward my trip to Xining next month.
    So I am in search of tips like a good driver/guide to take us around, places to visit or not, hotels to stay,…
    Would be very very helpful 😉
    Laurence (laurencebeijing@hotmail.com)

  7. elle says:

    We are heading to Kham and Amdo for about a month to travel and camp through. Can you recommend us a camping stove so we can have easy access to fuel along the way. At the moment I was thinking of just buying the MSR pocket rocket. and bringing a few fuel canisters. Please get back to us. Thanks!!

  8. Jon says:

    Hi there,

    Just found your wonderful blog. We’re heading to Qinghai in a few weeks to do some hiking and sightseeing. Starting in Xining we’ll travel to Rebgong and hike to Labrang, then head down to the Nyenpo Yurtse area via Langmusi for some more hiking. We’ve booked a customised tour with a Tibetan travel company so *hopefully* all the logistics will be taken care of!

    Your information about the region has been really helpful in letting me know what I might expect to find so has been greatly appreciated, as there’s not a lot of other info out there.

    We’re very excited to be heading to such an amazing place!

  9. Ben Cubbage says:

    Hey Jonas! My name is Ben Cubbage and I have been reading and loving your blogs. I am a guide and teacher in Xining (and also a former Environmental Science major) and your stories just make me laugh out loud (and sometimes cringe 🙂 because your writing is just so raw and real and hits home with me. I relate so much to everything you put out about travel and culture.

    Your writing style is descriptive, catchy, and really paints a full picture of the ups and downs of an expat in China. It is really every thing I have wanted to say but never could quite put to words. You should really think about putting it all together as a book. I think a lot of people would really like to see the real face of China through your experiences!

    All that said – I have a question for you about some of your content.

    I am working to create a website that will aid as a bridge to draw English speaking clients to some of my local Tibetan guide friends. It is really a tool to feed into eco-travel and add value to their businesses so they can support their families and communities with sustainable tourism. As I am creating this website (www.elevatedtrips.com) I am writing itineraries and designing content with a web designer (although nothing is up on the site yet because I just bought the domain) to promote their tours and bring them more business. In this process, I am using the internet for fact checking on elevations and distances that are useful within the tour schedule for the guides. Not surprisingly, this has often landed me on your posts and I have been hooked!

    I was wondering if it would be possible to use some of your photos on the website. I would be happy to provide a link on the site to your site (or sites) from those photos and give you full credit. For me, my main goal in building the website is to bring more traffic and business to my Tibetan friends and I feel your photos could aid in doing that. So it would have the dual effect of adding some value to what some of our local friends are doing in their own businesses and possibly bringing a few more eyes to your own blog.

    Of course, I understand that all your content is 100% your own intellectual property and I wouldn’t be put off at all if you want to fully protect that.

    But I just thought I would ask and see if you had anything in the way of photos you were willing to share.

    Thanks for creating your blog! I think it is very high quality and am so happy that someone is putting that kind of information out there.


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