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Top 10 Travel Destinations Gansu

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34 travelers at this place

  • Day11

    Jiayuguan and the Great Wall

    May 26, 2019 in China ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

    Jiayuguan City is the access point for the great fort of Jiayuguan. Our hotel was located opposite a lovely park, featuring wonderful sculptures and beautiful gardens. The Chinese certainly know how to create beautiful public spaces.

    Built to mark the end of the Ming Great Wall, the fort was considered as the limit of Chinese civilization and the beginning of the outer barbarian lands. Anyone exiled beyond the gates of this fort faced a life among nomadic strangers, as well as the wind-blasted wastelands of the Gobi Desert. Not surprising then that it was the least popular station in the entire empire! Apparently even today some Chinese associate this area with exile and despair.

    Completed in 1372, much of fort has been rebuilt and is in great condition. The fort is strategically positioned near the entrance to the Hexi Corridor, a narrow passage through the mountains linking China and the West. It was therefore important for both military and trade activities. It's also the western edge of the Great Wall.

    Nearby is the Overhanging Great Wall, a long stretch of the wall which heads up into the mountains. Finally got to climb a bit of the Great Wall of China! And did it with a great bunch of people too.
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  • Day12


    May 27, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    After a long drive we arrived in the rather pleasant city of Dunhuang. With a population of only 200,000 it's virtually a village by Chinese standards. An oasis town set amidst the stark Gobi Desert, it once served as the last stop on the Silk Road before the leap into the unknown. After settling in to our hotel we headed out, relishing the rare opportunity for independent exploration.

    We'd observed outdoor exercise parks elsewhere on our journey and Dunhuang was no exception. Indeed, it is very common to see adults and children alike exercising in these communal settings at any time of the day.

    An impressive "river" runs through the city, offering mid-river picnic spots, a fantastic fountain display, dragon boating and more. We really liked this city!

    Our destination was the White Horse Pagoda (or Baima Ta), set within a very modest Buddhist temple located in a rather down-trodden (but soon to be upgraded) part of town. The pagoda was built in memory of a horse belonging to a Buddhist monk who'd passed through the area. He clearly made an impact! His horse died at the temple in 384 AD.

    After rejoining our fellow travellers we spent a pleasant few hours observing the locals, partaking of the local beverage and enjoying the stunning light show.
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  • Day13

    Mogao Caves and the Gobi Desert

    May 28, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The main purpose of our visit to Dunhuang was to view the rather impressive Mogao caves. Dug into cliffs that rise out of the otherwise flat and featureless desert landscape, the caves reveal Buddhist paintings dating as far back as the 4th century. For more than 700 years Buddhist monks from far and wide excavated the hard rock and painted exquisite testaments to their faith. More than 2000 painted stucco figures and around 45,000 square meters of murals remain.

    We were unable to photograph any of the interiors but a few external images also remained. Of more than 600 caves that survive, about 20 are open to the public. Of the 8 we were shown, what struck us most was how vivid the colours remained after such a long time. They were truly beautiful. There were apparently also 1000s of manuscripts but many of these were taken by 19th/20th century explorers and reside in foreign museums.

    In addition to the cave paintings there are also two more humungous Buddha, one reclining and the other sitting. The external structure to the cave entrance gives an idea of the size of the sitting Buddha (around 35m).

    Of course no visit to the desert is complete without a camel ride! Only a short distance from town the sand mountain Mingsha Shan rises impressively. Camel riding in orange sand boots is a must, as is viewing the spectacular Crescent Moon Lake.

    We happened upon a fabulous theatrical production set in an equally impressive underground theatre. Entirely in Chinese, our guide thought we were a bit crazy, but it proved to be one of the highlights of our trip. Loosely based on the story of the loss of the Buddhist manuscripts from the Mogao Caves, the sounds, sights and sheer creativity of this production blew us away.
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  • Day9


    May 24, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Our first sleeper train proved to be more comfortable and and a lot more fun than I'd expected. With 6 of us crammed into a tiny space, cooperation and some basic acrobatics were required. With no curtains we presented something of a curiosity show to fellow passengers seated in the narrow hallway during dinner and breakfast.

    Zhangye is a "small" city of about 1.5 million people. Once an important stopover on the Silk Road, one of its main claims to fame now is that the Dafo Si (a Buddhist Temple) houses the largest reclining Buddha in China. At 34 m long this large clay fellow is breathtaking (unfortunately we weren't allowed to photograph it). While at first appearances it may seem he's simply having a rest, we were to find out later that this pose indicates that he has "gone to paradise" or "reached nirvana". Which basically means he died.

    Various other buildings form the temple complex, all set in beautiful gardens. An impressive display of translations of Buddhist text (originally in sanskrit) brought to China by Buddhist monks, included intricate woodcuts prints and even some of the original wood cut blocks.

    Also of interest was a large stupa, which is basically a Buddhist shrine where relics of some sort may be kept. It provides a place of worship.

    The local markets are great places to observe the shifts in climate and culture that are slowly revealing themselves as we travel along the Silk Road. Fresh and dried fruits, fabulous fungi, eggs - black, white, blue and spotted, even yak meat. Which makes for wonderful (and rather large) meals!

    Zhangye's other attraction is Danxia Geological Park, known more colloquially as Rainbow Mountains. But I'll save that for another day.
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  • Day10

    Rainbow Mountains

    May 25, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Danxia National Geopark is a relatively recent addition to the tourist trail in this part of China. Apparently known to the locals for years, the area was promoted through a Chinese action film in the early 2000s. The spectacular scenery has since attracted national and international attention.

    It truly is a beautiful place. It's just a pity the Chinese authorities who created the impressive visitor facilities saw fit to install speakers everywhere. The constant advertisements and elevator music detracted from any thoughts of communing with nature and was a reminder of what we had observed elsewhere - the need for constant noise.

    We visited the mountains in late afternoon and then again early morning. Sun rise over the mountains is apparently quite spectacular when the sky is clear. Unfortunately the cloud persisted and the colours were muted; nonetheless it was still worth the effort of the early morning, even if just to avoid the crowds and the music! The sound of the wind was a symphony by comparison.
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  • Day33


    March 20, 2015 in China ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    An oasis town and once an important hub of the silk road, Dunhuang has little left of its historical character. However, out of town lies a wealth of fascinating sites.
    Arriving at the train station in the dark, cold early morning, I was greeted by a wall of taxi drivers all competing for passengers. Behind them dozens and dozens of old volkswagons were lined up, nose to bumper. I found a driver and he led me to his car... Now, how were we going to get out? There was a lot of impatient shouting and manouvering of cars through tiny spaces until we were free.
    In the morning I explored the Mogao caves; over 700 buddhist caves built into the sandstone in the Gobi desert. I found another westerner (German man) and we had a tour together. The frescoes and statues inside were inredible and so we preserved given many are over 1000 years old.
    Later, I went to the sand dunes where the original oasis is. The chinese have managed to give it a slightly theme park air to it but once I had scaled the first dune (via the stairway to heaven), the views were incredible. I even joined a group of chinese to do a tandem rubber ring down the other side, flying through the sand very fast. For dinner I tried donkey which, if you're wondering, tastes like roast beef.
    The next day I took slowly and spent the afternoon sitting on the rooftop of the Silk Road Hotel with Tess and Francesca, a mother and daughter team who are cycling the Silk Road. Very admirable. They are lovely, interesting people with many stories to share.
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  • Day32


    March 19, 2015 in China ⋅ ☁️ 5 °C

    Not a terribly exciting day although Ellen on the bus did help me with my Chinese. I can now count to ten and vaguely ask to go to the train station. Essential vocabulary in my case.
    Lanzhou is a very industrial town; a forest of lego-like high-rises emerge from the lunar landscape. This was the start of my silk road adventure, onwards to Dunhuang on the night train.Read more

  • Day82

    Today we will continue our journey westwards to reach the city of “Dunhuang”. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. On the Journey down the Gansu Corridor we will visit “Jiayuguan Fort”*. We continue our journey with a drive to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall. Please note that the Great Wall here is abode, unlike the more famous stone sections further east. On the following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda! In Dunhuang we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Included Activities: Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang (Included in Kitty). Optional Activities: Stopover and time to explore historic Dunhuang (CNY 20). Take a camel ride to Crescent Moon Lake, Dunhuang (CNY 120).

    Gegen Mittag haben wir das UNESCO Weltkulturerbe „Jiayuguan Fort“* besichtigt. So richtige Begeisterung kam da nicht bei uns auf. Da haben wir in China schon viele bessere Highlights gehabt. Das Beste war innerhalb des Forts eine artistische Vorstellung (siehe YouTube Video).

    Jiayuguan City (simplified Chinese: 嘉峪关市; traditional Chinese: 嘉峪關市; pinyin: Jiāyùguān shì) is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Gansu province, with a population of 231,853 as of 2010. It is most famous for the nearby Jiayu Pass, the largest and most intact pass of the Great Wall of China. In ancient times, many inns were built near the pass. Gradually, more and more people decided to stay there for business and Jiayuguan City was built. At present, Jiayuguan City is not only famous for Jiayuguan Pass but also for Jiuquan Steel Company built in 1958. The steel company is the largest in Gansu Province. By area, it is by far the smallest prefecture-level division of Gansu. *The fortress at Jiayuguan is situated at the end of the portion of the Great Wall of China which was built by the Ming Dynasty, in the 14th century.

    Editiert am 02.01.2019
    Text von Wolfgang
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  • Day78

    Xiahe to Bingling Caves

    July 30, 2018 in China

    Um 07:00 fahren wir los. Jetzt hat es mich erwischt. Vermutlich zu viel Sonne und zu wenig Wasser. Gegen 11:00 folgen wieder dem „Gelben Fluss”*. Zuvor sind wir durch eine tolle Schluchtengegend mit riesigen Terrassenfeldern gefahren. Um 14:00 sind wir mit einem Schnellboot von dem „Liujiaxia Reservoir“* in Richtung des „Gelben Fluss” bis zu den „Bingling Caves”* gefahren (siehe separaten Footprint). Die Landschaft am „Gelben Fluss“ ist absolut atemberaubend und gehört sicher zum Besten was wir bisher auf unserer ganzen Reise gesehen haben. Die riesige Buddha Statue ist erst vor einigen Jahren renoviert worden.

    Der *Gelbe Fluss, auch Huang He (chinesisch 黃河 / 黄河, Pinyin Huáng Hé, W.-G. Huang Ho genannt, ist ein als Strom klassifiziertes Fließgewässer im Norden der Volksrepublik China (Ostasien). Nach dem Jangtsekiang ist er der zweitlängste Fluss Chinas und der viertlängste einzelne Fluss der Erde. Zu seiner Länge gibt es abhängig vom Messverfahren unterschiedliche Zahlen: 4.845 Kilometer ist die geläufigste Angabe und diejenige, die in verschiedenen Lexika zu finden ist; die größte in diversen Medien genannte Länge beträgt 5.464 Kilometer. Sein Einzugsgebiet umfasst 752.000 km². Seinen Namen trägt der Fluss aufgrund der gelblichen Färbung, die durch abgetragenen Löss entsteht, der über Bäche und Nebenarme in den Flusslauf gespült wird.

    The *Bingling Temple (simplified Chinese: 炳灵寺; traditional Chinese: 炳靈寺; pinyin: Bǐnglíng Sì) is a series of grottoes filled with Buddhist sculpture carved into natural caves and caverns in a canyon along the Yellow River. It lies just north of where the Yellow River empties into the Liujiaxia Reservoir*. Administratively, the site is in Yongjing County of Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, some 100 km (62 mi) southeast ofLanzhou. The caves were a work in progress for more than a millennium. The first grotto was begun around 420 CE at the end of the Western Qin kingdom. Work continued and more grottoes were added during the Wei, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The style of each grotto can easily be connected to the typical artwork from its corresponding dynasty. The Bingling Temple is both stylistically and geographically a midpoint between the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan and the Buddhist Grottoes of central China, Yungang Grottoes near Datong and Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang. Over the centuries, earthquakes, erosion, and looters have damaged or destroyed many of the caves and the artistic treasures within. Altogether there are 183 caves, 694 stone statues, and 82 clay sculptures that remain. The relief sculpture and caves filled with buddhas and frescoes line the northern side of the canyon for about 200 meters. Each cave is like a miniature temple filled with Buddhist imagery. These caves culminate at a large natural cavern where wooden walkways precariously wind up the rock face to hidden cliff-side caves and the giant Maitreya Buddha that stands more than 27 meters, or almost 100 feet, tall.

    The *Liujiaxia Reservoir (simplified Chinese: 刘家峡水库; traditional Chinese: 劉家峽水庫; pinyin: Liújiāxiá Shuǐkù) is a reservoir in China's GansuProvince, formed by the Liujiaxia Dam on the Yellow River. It occupies over 130 km2 (50 sq mi), and is located entirely within Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture. The reservoir's shores belong to the prefecture's Yongjing County (the narrow northern part, and the north shore of the wide southern part), Dongxiang Autonomous County (eastern part of the south shore), Linxia County (western part of the south shore), and Jishishan Bonan, Dongxiang and Salar Autonomous County (the small westernmost section of the south shore). The Daxia River and the Tao River flow into the reservoirs, forming wide bays.
    The water level in Liujiaxia Reservoir is usually reported as 1,735 m (5,692 ft) above the sea level, but in practice it varies significantly, in accordance with the water flow and human needs. The initial capacity of the reservoir was 5.7 km3 (1.4 cu mi), but after 10 years it lost 10% of its capacity due to silting, and after 17 years, 17.4%. This silting rate is considered quite low, compared to other reservoirs on the Yellow River, such as the narrow Yanguoxia Reservoir just downstream, which lost 71.3% of its storage capacity between 1958 and 1964 (and 77%, by 1965), or Sanmenxia Reservoir, which lost 96% of its storage capacity to sedimentation in just 4 years.

    Editiert am 01.01.2019
    Text von Wolfgang
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  • Day80

    Great Wall to Rainbow Montain

    August 1, 2018 in China

    Today we will drive to the incredible “Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains”* - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to wild camp nearby.

    We are hitting the tarmac again and head for the „Rainbow Montains“. Gegen 14:00 sind wir bei den „Rainbow Montains“. Selbige gehören sicher zu den Top 10 der weltweiten Naturwunder. Auch hier haben wir keine westlichen Touristen gesehen. Das beweist erneut, dass unsere Reise etwas ganz Besonderes ist. Wir befinden uns hier definitiv „off the beaten truck“.

    The *Zhangye National Geopark (simplified Chinese: 张掖国家地质公园; traditional Chinese: 張掖國家地質公園; pinyin: Zhāngyè Guójiā Dìzhìgōngyuán) is located in Sunan and Linze counties within the prefecture-level city of Zhangye, in Gansu, China. It covers an area of 322 square kilometres (124 sq mi). The site became a quasi-national geopark on April 23, 2012 (provisional name: Zhangye Danxia Geopark). It was formally designated as “Zhangye National Geopark" by the Ministry of Land and Resources on June 16, 2016 after it has passed the on-site acceptance test. Known for its colorful rock formations, it has been voted by Chinese media outlets as one of the most beautiful landforms in China.The park is located in the northern foothills of the Qilian Mountains, in the counties of Linze and Sunan, which are under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Zhangye, Gansu province. The main areas of Danxia landform are in Kangle and Baiyin townships. The core area of the park, Linze Danxia Scenic Area, is located 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of downtown Zhangye and 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the seat of Linze County. It is the most developed and most visited part of the park. A second scenic area, Binggou (冰沟), located on the north bank of Liyuan River (梨园河), was officially inaugurated on 3 August 2014.[2] Binggou covers an area of 300 square kilometres (120 sq mi), and its elevation ranges from 1,500 to 2,500 meters above sea level. A third area, Sunan Danxia Scenic Area, is located in Ganjun, south of Linze.

    Editiert am 02.01.2019
    Text von Wolfgang
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Gansu Sheng, Gansu, Province de Gansu, 甘肃省

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