This is the End of the World as we Know it
Jiayuguan Travel Blog› entry 42 of 80 › view all entries
About 3 years ago, before our first visit to China, I bought a guidebook to the country that had plenty of colour pictures so I could appreciate the scenery of the different provinces and judge which would be the best parts to visit. The cover photo of this book was of a medieval desert fort against a background of snow covered mountains and when I saw this I knew that this was one of the places I wanted to visit in China.
That picture was of Jiayuguan fort and now finally we are here. In Ming dynasty times the fort marked the end of the Great Wall and was considered the end of the civilised world to the Chinese.
We arrive on another overnight train this time from Lanzhou, stopping in the capital of Gansu just long enough to feel that its fame as the most polluted city in China seemed a little unfair, but not long enough to see anything much more than the main street, the bus statin and the railway station.
Jiayuguan is a compact town so we soon find our way around and to the security guard at one of the hotels who hires out bikes. It is the perfect way to get around as the fort is about 5km out of town and the land almost flat. The fort is excellent but I cannot quite reproduce the atmosphere of the photo I remember, as the sky today, though not cloudy is not clear enough to make the mountains seem close. It's also hard to take pictures without powerlines and in the city direction there is a background of blast-furnances!
Afterwards we cycle 10km further to a restored section of the Great Wall where we climb along the wall for a view back to the town and north to Inner Mongolia. The wall here maybe a reconstruction but it does look good!