A Few Days in Zhangye

A Few Days in Zhangye (Gansu Province) 张掖

Stage 6: Zhangye and around

(see stages 1  2  3  4  5  of our 2011 trip)

& Danxia Landforms Geology Park 张掖丹霞地貌

& Mati Si / 马蹄寺

A Few Days in Zhangye: Zhangye Temple
A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple

A Few Days in Zhangye: Getting there from Alashan Yuoqi

A few days in Zhangye 张掖, the friendly and attractive city in western Gansu province, is best way to get to know this remote area of China. Zhangye is only a three to four hour bus ride away from the Inner Mongolian town of Alashan Youqi, the gateway to the Badan Jarain Desert. And, as the friendly ticket lady at Youqi’s bus station had assured Adam two days ago, there are no problems getting tickets. So we swap the tickets for the 15.00 bus which the Badain Jaran travel agency had erroneously bought us, and hop on the 8.30 one instead.

A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple
A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple

The bus starts out half-empty, but doesn’t stay that way for long. This is still peasant country, where local people prefer to line up by the road side with their sacks and bundles, waiting for the bus to pick them up, rather than make their way to the bus station. The main difference with 20 years ago is that most of the transactions, involving pick- ups and drop- offs, are arranged on mobile phones these days.

A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple
A Few Days in Zhangye: The Dafo / Great Buddha Temple

The other thing that takes us back into time is the speed of the ride; or rather, the lack of it. In fact, we have seldom come across a driver less in a hurry. Though we normally want our buses to go slowly and carefully, ever fearful of accidents, even we think that this guy could speed up a bit.

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North West China Trip

North West China: Inner Mongolia / Ningxia / Gansu

North West China Trip: Over the next few months we’ll be putting up articles about the places we visited in China this summer.
The trip began in Hohhot (呼和浩特), in Inner Mongolia (内蒙古自治区), where we had arrived on the train from Ulaan Baatar (乌兰巴托) in Mongolia.

Stage 1: Hohhot
Stage 2: Zhongwei
Stage 3: Yinchuan (银川) and around
Stage 4: Yinchuan to Bayan Khot
Stage 5: Bayan Khot to Alashan Youqi and the Badain Jaran Desert
Stage 6: Zhangye and around
Stage 7: Xiahe and around

After exploring the city’s eye-catching Wuta pagoda 五塔寺 and Da Zhao 大召 and Xilitu Zhao 席力图大召temples, an overnight train took us to Zhongwei (中卫), in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Province (宁夏回自治区), where we visited the Desert Research Center at Shapotou ( 沙坡头) on the banks of the Yellow River (黄河) and also the Sikou Scenic Area(寺口风景区).

Zhongwei (中卫) to Yinchuan (银川)

0From Zhongwei (中卫), a quick bus ride led north to Yinchuan (银川), from where we explored the amazing sights that surround Ningxia’s capital.

From Yinchuan we headed off into Western Inner Mongolia, passing the isolated ruins of the Great Wall at Sanguankou (三关口), and the enormous Mongolian temple complex Guangzongsi (广宗寺), also known locally as Nan Si (南寺), before finally arriving in fast developing and friendly Bayan Hot (or Alashan Zuoqi 阿拉善左旗).

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