Blogs from Gansu, China, Asia

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Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang September 1st 2013

While looking for places to visit around Urumqi, the place that struck me most was the Mogao caves near Dunhuang. Although mentioned as a 2 to 3 day trip, I figured if we go by the overnight train we should have the good part of one day enough to be able to see the caves. One image of a 9 tiered pagoda embedded in a cliff was enough to make me want to go there. We reached Liu yuan at 7 am, the station seemed small and the weather outside was cool. After 'Unexpected Urumqi', I'd almost forgotten why I'd booked these tickets-to come all the way here. Looking at the available options for a ride to Dunhuang, we took the most inexpensive and fast option, a minibus. So, after a five hour plane journey across ... read more
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Liu Yuan station

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang July 13th 2013

On my last day in Dunhuang I got up early and I cycled to the edge of the city where the sand dunes can be seen. I also found a charming little youth hostel there, just at the foot of the desert. I dropped my bags and my bike there (40rmb a night) and went for a walk. I was surprised and annoyed that tourists were asked to pay 120 Yuan to “visit” the sand dunes. And the entire desert was surrounded by a fence! Do you believe this?! I am a bad tourist and I decided to walk farther down ( I mean WAY down!) to find a hole in the fence and snoop in. I don’t mind paying money to visit Buddhist caves and museums, or even lakes that need protection but sand???!! No ... read more
Crescent lake
Hello Ladies!
new resort hotel near the dunes

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang July 13th 2013

Pour ma 2e journée à Dunhuang je me suis rendu dans le désert en direction du nord-ouest pour aller visiter la région de Yadan ou gisent des monticules de roche sablonneuse qui datent de … millions d’annees ? Cette région se trouvait alors sous l’eau et les sédiments ont formé des blocs compacts que le vent et l’érosion ont sculptés avec le temps. Imaginez un désert de sable gris, tout plat, recouvert de minuscules cailloux bleus et marron d’où émergent de gigantesques monticules jaunes. Le tout sous un ciel bleu a l’infini d’où provient une lumière blanche aveuglante, et vous avez Yadan. Le site se trouve à 180km de Dunhuang et au beau milieu du désert, c’est pourquoi il m’était impossible d’y aller en vélo. Je n’ai pas l’habitude de voyager en groupe organisé mais c’était ... read more
Yadan Geological Park
outside Dunhuang
on the road to Yadan

Asia » China » Gansu » Jiayuguan June 30th 2013

The ride from Jiayuguan to Yumen was the toughest day since I started this trip. So far I have always chosen the smaller roads over the expressways for obvious reasons. First of all, bicycles aren’t allowed on the expressway (although in China, there is always a way to go around the law) and in addition, smaller provincial roads are (from my experience) more scenic, quieter, less traveled and they take me though lovely villages that no one knows about. So from Jiayuguan I followed the 312 road heading towards Guazhou and I did expect a lovely ride. It turned out to be an amazing challenge. First of all, the road took me uphill the whole time; not a huge incline but enough to make me press hard on the pedals. For the first few hours I ... read more
Xubo! Thanks man! I had a great time!
between Jiayuguan and Yumen
obviously it was windy...

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang June 30th 2013

In YuMen I asked my host Xubo about the road to Guazhou. He laughed and showed me with his hands that it was up and down the whole way and that the road was in extremely bad condition. I sighed… Riding to YuMen had been so difficult I knew I had to get ready for another tiring day of cycling. But then Xubo told me I could try to get on the expressway, the G30 I had been following for many days. He said cyclists weren’t allowed on it but if I rode very fast at the toll gate, no one would stop me… So I did ride fast and I got on the expressway as early as I could (I think it was 7am). As I said in my previous blog entry, I usually think ... read more
Follow me!
on the way to Dunhuang
Mogao Caves Today

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Asia » China » Gansu » Jiayuguan June 27th 2013

I rode from JiuQuan to JiaYuGuan under the rain but it was a bit more than 20 kilometers. After 2 days of rest in JiuQuan watching the rain fall from my cozy hotel room, I was looking forward to visiting a new site and I kept my fingers crossed for the sun to show up. And it did! Jiayuguan is not the most exciting city but it was easy for me to find a hotel and to get oriented. My first afternoon there I rode around the city and then walked around the city center, strolling around the main street (with the same usual clothes shops we can find in every Chinese town) and some small market streets where each restaurant owner invited me in to enjoy some barbecued food. JiaYuguan didn’t seem very crowded to ... read more
at Jiayuguan
June 2013 The sun is back!
on the Great Wall at Jiayuguan

Asia » China » Gansu » Zhangye June 26th 2013

Here are a few pictures of a very quiet national park near Dan Xia, Zhangye. It’s called Bing Gou. I woke up early and rode the 15km before it started raining. This place would be even more amazing with blue sky but the sky had decided differently and I got stuck with clouds and rain. Bing Gou Park is pretty cool though. You will see some kind of stone needles pointing at the sky and other cool rock formations. Very few people know about this place so I had the entire park to myself. I only ran into 2 other tourists and one other car. They thought I was crazy to ride my bike up the steep path in the mountains especially as it was raining. I followed the canyon and when I couldn’t ride anymore, ... read more
happy face
early morning at Bing Gou
tired eyes for an early rise

Asia » China » Gansu » Jiayuguan June 26th 2013

How policemen forced me to move from my hotel room at 11pm in Gao Tai, and how I got very wet riding to JiuQuan for 200km… From Danxia (and its beautiful rock formation) I rode to Gao Tai (about 70km) in one afternoon. The sky was grey but I avoided the rain so I was pretty pleased when I got into the city. However, after 2 and a half hours of cycling along every single street Gao Tai has to offer and NOT being able to find a hotel, I started to get pretty cranky!... Most hotels would not take foreigners. They simply didn’t apply for the license that allows them to host foreigners. I can understand this as Gao Tai is definitely not a tourist destination for anyone, let alone foreign backpackers or tour groups. ... read more
bare landscape and going uphill
bored, bored, bored... and windy!
Why smiling?

Asia » China » Gansu » Mati Si June 19th 2013

On my second day at Ma Ti Si I rode to another grotto, 13km away. The Tibetan guesthouse owners had told me there was a road to go to Guan Yin Dong. What they didn’t tell me (or did I miss it?) was that the road was unpaved and VERY bumpy! It took me 90 minutes to cover the 13km. The scenery was splendid though! I took (too) many pictures and I imagined building a little summer mud house for the future… Fields were covered in blue-purple flowers (I don’t know what they’re called, but I’ll find out) and I only ran into a couple of tractors and local farmers on their motorbikes. The only noise was that of cuckoo birds and bees: soooo relaxing! The grotto was also very cool. Built up the red cliff ... read more
The Black Pearl is always with me
my bike also enjoyed the scenery
just outside Ma Ti Si

Asia » China » Gansu » Zhangye June 19th 2013

I liked Zhangye. It’s a charming little city with many pedestrian streets lined up with colorful old-looking buildings. It combines modern shopping malls and ancient temples. People there were very welcoming and helpful and the fact that Zhangye is so close to Ma Ti Si and Dan Xia Landform (photos to come) tells me I will definitely be back here. Unfortunately on my first night in Zhangye I must have eaten something bad because I was sick all night and spent the following day wandering the city like a zombie… I had no energy, no strength. I was empty. Too much cycling the previous days? Exhausted? Or simply bad food?... The weather also turned grey and rainy so I took an extra day off to rest before heading to Dan Xia Landform, 45km out.... read more
Visiting Zhangye and DaFo Si
walking around Zhangye
The city was formerly known as Ganzhou (甘州), a name retained both in the municipal region seat Ganzhou District and the Gan of the province of Gansu. In The Travels of Marco Polo, Marco Polo describes spending a year in a city called Campichu,




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