Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Silk Road Trip Day 8 - Xiahe to Jiayuguan 20 May 07

This was mainly a travel day for us, as we ate breakfast and got on the road by about 10.  The long trip that we had to get to Xiahe from Lanzhou was cut considerably shorter by not having to go on the rutted dirt road that we took for about 3 hours on the way up.  As we descended, our ears popped, coming down from about 9700 feet to around 5000. 
We stopped again in Linxing, or Little Mecca, as James called it, but this time at a restaurant that had no sides of lamb hanging in the bathroom.  We browsed a while for some crystal sunglasses that are all the rage here, but not finding any that I liked, I decided to stick with my Ray Bans for now. 
Back on the road, we made good time through the mountains until we got back to Lanzhou.  Then we hit a traffic jam for a few minutes...everything cleared up pretty fast though, and we made our way for a brief stop at the Bridge over the Yellow River, and a statue commemorating one of the earliest travelers on the Silk Road, the monk Xuanzang. 
After this brief stop, we went by the famous waterwheels, with some interesting exhibits and working water moving machinery that would certainly be too dangerous in the USA.  Visions of pinched fingers and lawsuits would never have allowed the exposed gearing to see the light of a public park. 
Before we hit the station, we grabbed some snacks at the grocery store, and a quick supper.  The station was crowded initially, but when we got to the soft sleeper lounge, we were the only ones there. I did get a pack of yak jerky for the road though. 
The sleeper was fine, and we ended up hanging out with a beer and some Chinese brandy/wine before turning in.  Even though we're really 2 time zones farther west than Beijing, the entire country is on Beijing time.  It seems sort of weird, but helps to unify the country, I guess.  It just messes you up a bit, because it is either darker or lighter than it should be at different times of day.
We awoke the next morning just a couple of stops from our destination, Jiayuguan, which is the notable for its fort and the beginning (or end) of the Great Wall.  
I've finally posted some pictures at our Flickr site...check them out.  See the link on the Right.

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