China is a gargantuan nation where even the smallest municipalities can have larger populations than many a European or American city. With so much space to cover and so many stories to tell, it's all too easy to just focus on the next big adventure and trying to discover the "real China," but sometimes the real China is what's right in front of you, down the alley where you might head out to buy water and toilet paper every other day, and not on that 12-hour hard seat trip through the jungles of Guangxi. In City Watch we strive to uncover some of these little-known cities with a lot to offer, if only you know where to look. >>> It's the middle of July and if you are caught on pretty much any inhabited plot of land along the Yangtze River, you are probably wondering how on earth the humidity can keep rising and if it does, will you drown? Can one drown on water-laden air molecules? Don't wait to find out! Qinghai sun! At an average altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level, even on a hot day in Xining you'll need a windbreaker to stop the cold, Himalayan gusts from raising goose bumps up and down your arms. Sounds like heaven. And not only is Xining a cool, refreshing escape from China's sweltering summers, but the city is also a melting pot of Tibetan, Mongolian, Hui Muslim and Han Chinese cultures that have been stewing together for around 2,000 years—ever since the Han Dynasty leaders tried to fortify the area and gain control of the Silk Road splinter that traveled through Gansu Province, passed Xining and then on to Lhasa. Don't even stop to think about it—book that ticket now and you could be strolling through city streets bright with the Tibetan sun and Tibetan smiles, the smells of Muslim cooking and the cries of hawkers in a dozen different dialects! Xining! A heavenly haven for sweaty office workers!