Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 8 - Jiayuguan

Since Mark was not at his best, due to the donkey episode from the day before, he hadn't slept much, as he was concerned we would miss our stop. The young lady working on the train, woke us up to advise us that our stop would be next. Somehow Mark thought it meant now, and woke quickly woke me, and started panicking. We had 45 more minutes before we needed to disembark. Way too early for this. That worst part about this was that the train locked the toilets so no one was allowed to use them. At least we got to brush our teeth. Once we arrived in Jiayuguan, it was much cooler than we anticipated, but our guide, Lilly, was very good, and offered to take us to a nice hotel, to change, freshen up and have some breakfast. On our way to Dunhuang, we were to visit the Jiayuguan Fortress and Great Wall. The fortress was originally built for passport control, and for the government to collect taxes, for traders using the silk road. It was also used as a pit stop before continuing west on the silk route. The western section of the Great Wall was built during the Han dynasty back in 1372, and took over 300 years to build. The fortress covers over 33,000 square feet.

Entrance to the Jiayuguan Fortress
Once in the fortress the gates closed, trapping the invaders, where the army could use their arrows to kill them.
The Theatre. Actors from the neighbouring villages use to perform for the army.
The Great Wall built during the Han dynasty
We then drove to Dunhuang, which took about 5 hours. After an hour of seeing the same landscape, Mark and I had too the opportunity to take a much needed nap. The hotel was pretty cool. It was similar to what you may expect at a ski resort. There was a beautiful patio where you could dine and see the mountains and stars. It was nice to have a shower that actually worked. Due to the sand storm the day before, our guide Lilly, suggested that we go the next day, hoping the weather would be better. We were more than fine with that, as we relished an evening of relaxation.

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