The city of Jiayuguan, situated in the inland Chinese province of Gansu, in the middle of the vast desert of Gobi, has a very dry and sunny climate, where it does not rain more than fifteen or twenty times a year (many more than in the desert caused by building artificial lakes around the city to soften the climate). A huge dolphin-shaped tower in one of the local parks has been the weather forecasting center for a little more than a year and gives a clue as to the importance of the climate in this area.
The Gobi Desert, or 戈壁 in Chinese, is the desert that's between Mongolia and China and is considered to be one of the largest deserts in the world. I was in China, near the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu Province, which was one of the most important places to be in the ancient Silk Road and it's also where the Great Wall of China ends. Flying over this region is an amazing spectacle: For awhile, all you see are patches of land, where there was never a soul nor is there a single building. It is surrounded by the Altai Mountains and the steppes of Mongolia on the north, the Tibetan Plateau and the North China Plain in the southwest.
Jiayuguan, China has undergone a spectacular amount of growth in recent years and this has resulted in a housing boom during which they've been doing most of the building that can be seen today on the city's wide avenues. The amazing thing is that for it being such a small city (220,000 inhabitants for China is NOT a lot), it's a city that has been designed to house a lot of people, so the streets are all at least four lanes wide and it's starting to spread beyond the Taolai river, which would've been an unthinkable thought just four short years ago. Many of the buildings are placed in the same position and even painted alike, quite reminiscent of the communist regime that rules the country. In addition, employees work day and night and the cranes are already almost indivisible part of the city landscape.
In this part of the Great Wall situated in Gansu province (north-central China), there is one of the best preserved parts of this impressive monument, there are several places with costumes for tourists, where you can dress up as the Sentinel of the era of the Silk Road, when this gate was a must for merchants coming from the West and who ,wanted to pass through to the Orient. Chinese tourists love to dress up and this really is one of the star attractions of the wall.
About 3 kilometers away from the Chinese city of Jiayuguan in China's Gansu province you'll find this stunning viewpoint to the Gobi Desert, where you can see their breathtaking scenery. It is located roughly 25 feet high and the floor is transparent, an experience not suitable for those suffering from vertigo!
If you like a lot of excitement you will love to get on the cable car crossing a stretch of the Gobi desert, located about 4 kilometers from the Chinese city of Jiayuguan (Gansu Province). Operating only when there is a group of at least 4 people who are determined to get in, the price is 3 euros per head. The scenery is quite impressive.
This recreation of an old town in the Gobi desert has become one of the most popular places that are visited by the tourists who come to Jiayuguan to see a section of the Great Wall of China and the tombs of Jin wei. This type of recreated city is very typical in China and Chinese tourists love it. Much of the time they prefer seeing new replicas than the old original versions.
Right in the middle of the Gobi desert, about 4 kilometers away from the Chinese city of Jiayuguan (Gansu Province), is where you'll find this impressive suspension bridge. This bridge is not a suitable visit for people who suffer from heart problems or vertigo ... hehehe ... Crossing the bridge is a challenge and I didn't because at the time it was subject to maintenance and it looked quite deserted. The bridge crosses a kind of stream that originates in the glaciers of the Qilian mountains nearby, something really unusual in a desert so vast and barren as the Gobi, which covers a huge expanse of northern China and southern Mongolia.
It is a small natural oasis, surprisingly in existence for 2000 years, from the huge dunes of the Gobi Desert. However, the spring now loses depth and the Chinese government is studying how to keep it artificially, without damaging it. Its crescent shape gives it its name, but I don't know where "red" comes from as it is clear in colour. It reminds me of the Oasis of Huacachina (Ica, Peru). It is only 6 km. from the center of Dunhuang, making it very accessible on a bus (# 3, 1 yuan) or by taxi (about 15 yuan). It is also a good idea to rent a bike (about 1 yuan per hour). There are a wide range of tourist activities: camel rides (about 30 yuan), sandboarding, etc..
Every time I made a trip to the desert in China, I went through the city cemetery. This case was in Dunhuang and I went to spend a few days in the lavish Gobi. The cemetery is south of the city, and there we can see some curious Buddhist customs. It is interesting for the difference with ours. What is clear, is that here is what's left is land ... and by the size of the plots, the distribution of the tombs What does not change is the difference between wealthy and not that noticeable as in ours.
When we mention the Great Wall, we all tend to think of the wall built by the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). We all know that there are more than 5,000 km. of wall, running through what was its northern border, but few of us stop to think about the last part, which was formed by the Hexi Corridor. This last section, which has little to do with the most famous wall, was built in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220), more than 1,000 years before the Ming wall. You can visit these last vestiges of wall near Dunhuang, Yumen between steps and Yangguang. It is part of a full day tour, and it's a little tricky to get there independently. Here you will discover that the first wall is built simply stacking the same desert sand, and straw. And it is amazing that these little wall portions are still standing, given the strong erosion caused by wind and sand of the desert together.