Entering Gansu province

Trip Start Jul 26, 2006
Trip End Apr 01, 2008

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, September 16, 2006

This region once served as an important link between ancient China and the West as an essential corridor of the famed "Silk Road." Now it's mostly quite barren and one of China's poorest provinces.

The astounding views have not let up, however. Some highlights, aside from amazing geological formations and dramatic landscape changes along the way, have included:

Lots and lots of herds of goats, cattle, and yaks, watched over by shepherds, who must live a pretty quieting existence. We'll be cruising through this serene, desolate landscape, and suddenly there'll be this little dot of a person, alone or occasionally nearby a yurt, just out there watching over the herds. It's been really fun getting to watch the yaks (and wild antelopes) run and play in the fields as well--they're quite beautiful animals.

There have also been plenty of elegant raptors, paralleling the shepherds in their slow, comfortable survey of a seemingly barren landscape.

The amazing skies, and proximity to the clouds--sometimes even passing through them.

And the feeling of really riding right through the mountains--they've built some pretty significant tunnels right through some mountains for this railway, so we've been all up in 'em.

All the while, announcers give sporadic commentary in multiple languages on the scenes we're observing, providing in-depth cultural and ecological facts about our surroundings, prescriptions for coping with altitude sickness, and, of course, propagandizing on the amazing feat that is this railway (I tend to agree) and the benefits that "liberation/modernization" have brought to Tibet (uhhhhh, not so sure about that one). With regards to the railway, they have spoken fairly extensively on the environmental and engineering feats they've accomplished with regards to its construction. Must be trying to address some of the critics.
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