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From 哈密市Hami City's south station I took the bus heading for 嘉峪关市Jiayuguan City. We started out early at 8:30 in the morning. At noon, the poor little bus kneeled just before a large gas station. So everyone took a 2 hour lunch and enjoy the 360 degree view of the desert. It was a sublime view: smooth humps of hard rocks high as hills hatched across an endless bare flat land. The local color is the color of camels, and it is no wonder that camels are the only animals that might wander around this type of landscape. After much ado about nothing, another bus came. We all hopped in and continued onward.  Sometime later the bus made a detour into a pocket of towns. After hours looping through a number of towns and villages, we were back on the main road again. But soon we reached a long section of the national highway that was under reconstruction, so the bus and all the mammoth cargo trucks swayed along the undulating desert ground. The sun was setting at this time, like a yolk floating above an ancient bed of original peanut butter paste. Its toe light searching through the empty plains for lost things, and to find company in its shadows. The faint images of workers that stood and crouched along the strip of road only looked real hauling shovels and marching to the sound of diesel engines. 
Bus ticket from 哈密市Hami City to 嘉峪关市Jiayuguan City.
They stared in our direction, and I can imagine a long caravan of vehicles, huddled together and humpbacked, moving along just so that civilization remains alive. Then a sandstorm swept the landscape. By now everything crawled under the moonlight. I looked out the sand-fogged windows, and nothing but glaring headlights. Inside everyone was cracking seeds, usually sunflower seeds. My bag of seeds was picked up in 乌鲁木齐市Wulumuqi (Urumqi); the locals have a large varieties of them. Once a while I openned the window a bit just to get some feel of the sand blowing onto my face. I was a little worried about my equipments tossed onto the back of the bus, which has a door that could not be closed entirely. I was to find out later that I have a bag of souvenir. Hours later, we were speeding on paved road again, then back onto off-road. 玉门关Yumenguan (Yumen Pass) was the next stop. Another hour and 45 mins. I was in Jiayuguan City, which the national highway cuts through. The bus driver dropped me off at his convenience and continued eastward. It was then 11:30 at night, and I was lost. If you want adventure this is the way to go; otherwise, take the train or the airplane.

NEW -- July 21, 2010

The beautiful city of Suzhou crisscrossed with narrow water canals

哈密市至嘉峪关市图片From Hami City to Jiayuguan City Pictures

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    The national highway cutting through the endless desolate desert in Xinjiang.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    The bus I was in broke down twice. Once here for half an hour, the other time near the gas station for more tban two hours.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    Cargo trucks are a common sight throughout china's highways. The mobile workhorses of her growing economy. In the western regions it's easy to compare these trails of metal beasts to the camels that used to slave through the unbearable deserts. Now the camels are merely funny tourists sights. Their burden shifted to motor vehicles that move no faster than them.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    A bathroom in the desert. Men on the left and women on the right. Inside are slots on the floor where the wastes can drop down a six-feet pit. I don't remember the length of the slots, but one can move back and forth only so much to awoid the historic craggy peaks rising from below. And being civilized, we cover and suffocate ourselves instead of just finding a beautiful spot in the open and enjoy the landscape in the process. There is of course no water here.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    This is within Xinjiang. The only sign that people had been here is the existence of the electic posts. Such barren landscape is the norm for hundreds of kilometers.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    The deserts here are not sandy, just alot of bare rocks. Some are probably leftovers from previous building projects.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    Large rock formations.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    These large rock formations look like fingers and knuckles rising out of the earth.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    I shot through the window of the bus with my Pentax. I would stare at all the bumps and when the moment a bump match the size of my reflected iris on the window glass, I quickly slided the window open and clicked.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    An oasis. I can't tell what's growing here. But there ought to be enough grass here for sheeps.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    Inside one of the oasis town. The bus went round and round a number of these to drop off passengers right on their doorsteps.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    One wonders how a single man can watch over a hundred sheep. But then again where can they go. Sheeps are the kind of animals that prefer to hang out together rather than to run free.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    After a long time of nothing but rocks, the sudden greenery might give you a heart attack. This proves well that the earth a fluid thing. You squeexe one place, some other place gets it. However, this can be tragic, as shown by floods and drougbts, and now global warming. The difficult thing is to keep a balance.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    There must be water spots scatter sparsely underground for these desert plants to grow and never touch one another.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    The bus came to a long section of the highway that was either under repair or construction. Behind is a large field of windmills.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    This is a large field of windpowered generators. They are huge. Their height is probably 10 meters or more, and their numbers probably reached 500.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    In this type road and climate, I don't see how the trucks can be any better than camels. The vehicles move no faster. But I guess the humans got more comfortable now that they have less direct exposure to the elements.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    The unbearable chill and lonliness of the landscape can bring the poet out of anyone.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    The picture looks quiet, but the sound construction machines and the rumblings of the cargo trucks and buses as well as the loud chattings made it feel like midtown rush hour.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    In the backgound are the silhouettes of construction machines and workers' tents.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City
  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    It's easy to romanticize the eerie beauty of such an inhospitable landscape, but probably difficult to explain why.

  • Picture of 哈密市至嘉峪关市 Hami City to Jiayuguan City

    There's probably treasures beneath this place if you are willing to imagine it.

image of Jiayuguan fort

嘉峪关Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass) - the lone fort at the edges of the desolate and bare Gobi desert. It is at once both a timeless symbol of human's uncompromising reach and an otherworldly mirage.

image of stone lion

The stone lions, chimeras, toistoises and unicorns that guarded the royal tombs of the 六朝Six Dynasties Era for the past 1600 years.

上海 shanghai skyline苏州园林 suzhou gardernUygur lady and tourist boat in 天池 Tianchi

Selected pictures from my 3-month travel through China during the summer of 2006.

image of people on a boat in the Three Gorges area of the Changjiang river area

See the 三峡Three Gorges of the 长江Changjiang (Yangzi River) between 重庆市Chongqing city and 宜昌Yichang.

image of a group of Mongolian gersimage of dunes near Baotou city

Enjoy the wide 希拉穆仁草原Xilamuren grassland, the huge dunes of 响沙湾Xiangshawan, and the ancient Wall of the Qin state in 内蒙古Neimenggu (Inner Mongolia).