Silkroad D6: Dunhuang's Yardan National Geological Park
Yadan National Park Travel Blog› entry 8 of 21 › view all entries
December 31st, 2008 – by: wsquare
Today journey, was a mixed of ancient military and geological sight feastings. We would enroute to see Yangguang Pass, the Yumen Guan Pass & the Ancient Han's Dynasty Great Wall, before finally ending in Yardan Geological Park!
It brought me back to the ancient times when Dunhuang, was of great importance as a defensive centre on the western borders of the Chinese vast empire, which strongly guarded the Silkroad routes.
Highlights of the Day
1. YangGuan Museum & Pass
Cost : 50rmb
To the west of Dunhuang, the valley gradually broadens and one quickly enters the largely barren desert.
Yangguan Pass is a mountain pass, fortified during the Western Han Dynasty, and was regarded often as the very last stop of an official before entering the barbarian lands of Central Asia. It was mentioned in a poem by Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei,which highly contrasted the alienation feeling beyond Yangguan Pass.
Quoted off the Net, the open poem goes as :
Weicheng Tune, generally called Seeing Yuan Er off to Anxi
The inn is green with the color of new willows.
The gentlemen urgently offer up one more cup of wine.
Going west to Yangguan there will be no old acquaintances.
Although there was a local tour-guide who explained the important artifacts in the museum, I was quickly losing interest as I could only blame myself for my lack of China history to appreciate the real intentions. Together with the Jap couple, we decided to break off from the group and ventured on our own. We did the craziest thing, which was to walk on foot from the museum all the way to the actual Yangguan Pass location,and back. Well, 'cause we were pissed with the badgerings to take shuttle car rides. Call us stubborn, but we walked on foot for 25mins on the cold,brazen desert,slowly enjoying the walk with our cameras. And we just watched the rest of the group on the van which whizzed past us.
In fact, what stands now is just the remnant of a broken,heavily eroded beacon tower. All the past-dismantled walls were eroded by wind & buried under the earth. Not far, is a very entralling and levelled valley-view, which marks its strategic importance why it served as an outpost there!
Nice,and we overindulged by spending at least 2 hours in there,before it was noon time for us to carry on to the next pass.
2. Yumenguan Pass (Jade Pass)
Cost: 20rmb (50% of 40rmb) More like paying a road tax than entrance ticket
Yumen Pass, also known as Jade Pass, is another of the 2 important western passes serving the Silkroad routes in ancient time. Located 75km northwest of Dunhuang, Jade Pass served the crucial gateway from the western regions to Central China. Its name, was derived mainly due to beautiful jade which was brought to inner China through this Silkroad route.
3. Han's Dynasty Ancient Wall of China
Cost : Included from above, as the fee, i was told, was more for substaining the road development
Gust within few walking-steps distance from Jade Pass, one can witness the past-majestic great ancient wall of China built durng the Han's Dynasty.
This stretch of wall is of stark comparison to other walls built from other dynasties. Unlike usual layers of bricks or stones, the wall is made from very fundamental materials of sand and weeds,layered carefully in a stratum-like structure. The fact that its existence after withstanding thousand of years of erosion,marks a standing ovation of its strong architectural feat isn't it?
We did not spend long here,at most for 20mins, more like a short stopover to snap few shots before continuing our remaining journey to Yardan Geological Park.
So like Yangguan Pass, what left at Yumenguan Pass is the remnant of a heavily eroded tower made of yellow sand, amidst the vast wilderness in Gobi desert..
In fact along the journey to Yardan, we went past many grapevines but definitely not in the correct season to see grapes. So we were told, grapes here are a local delight of Dunhuang, as well as we were getting closer to Turpan! For your info, Turpan is very well-known for its super-sweet grapes!
3. Yardan National Geological Park
Cost: 25rmb (50% off the original 50rmb entrance fee) + 20rmb bus shuttle ride
Finally, we reached Yardan Geological Park. It was already a quarter past 2 in the afternoon! So we were told to make sure we need to leave the place by 4:30pm!
So Yardan National Geological Park, was the furthest and most prominent itinenary for the day.
It is also known as a Ghost City due to the strange noises made when strong wind howls past the long parallel ridges. Apparently,I couldn't hear any seen there wasn't any much wind to begin with. Notably, there are also very distinctive and unique natural landforms which bear close resemblance to Egypt's Sphinx, Peacock,Lion etc
The bus shuttle brought us to around 4 main highlights found in the geological park, and apparently, time just whizzed past, and not long,we were on our long journey back to Dunhuang city!
I was equally impressed myself that I had managed to survive the day without having any meals yet walking on foot for so long.
One great remembrance of my Dunhuang trip was the kind shifu who took us on the ride for the past 2 days. Not only did he rejected my payment for few of my paid-meals, he also ran after me - right to the front doors of my train to return my pair of gloves,which I had left it accidentally in his car! It was really thoughtful. Frankly, I wondered how many would bother to return !
That's why i have to say it was a serendipity to get to know him, and also a fortuitous one! Should you need a transport arrangement but provided you could converse in Chinese, I would strongly recommend him!
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