Warning: Boring, if you aren't into history.
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012 28 °C
Jiayuguan, August 14th 2012
Beacon towers are built to pass military messages. In ancient times, when intruders approached, soldiers on the wall would create smoke in the daytime and light a fire at night to warn their troops. In mountainous areas, beacon towers are built by laying pieces of stones and bricks, into square, rectangular, or round shapes. What's left to us today is only the remnant of great past.
Here's a close up of the tower. For our modern eyes, this looks like nothing. Honestly, I almost didn't take a picture of this, because I thought, "Ah, it's just a rock." I sat back in my rented car after taking dozens of pictures inside the area, when my driver said, "Aren't you taking a picture of that?"
"Of what?" I asked.
I turned my head. "Oh, that rock." I thought. I grabbed my G12 and got out of the car. Just a rock is not worth a 7D.
Now I'm truly grateful my driver had reminded me, because this 'rock' is actually the icon of the whole area. It was the first beacon tower. It's nothing today, but it was, at that time. I began to reflect how immortal life is actually. What I count precious today, to the people in the next century might just be a 'rock'.
It was kind of an open air museum. Here's the view from above. Those white brownish domes are what's called "yurt", the homes of ancient people, but also today. The further I traveled to the West, into Xinjiang Region, the more common those yurt came into sight. Now let's go down the stairs. Yes, down, down there. Don't think of the returning up. Just get down first. I'll show you stuffs of the ancient world.
Here's a close up of one of the yurt.
Now starts the boring history lesson. Please note that I'm just copying from the information board. If you find words that sound funny, I tell you, you are right. It says: Horseshoer: a place where horses shoes were installed and repaired to protect horses. See? At least I'm sure you get the idea.
Next one. Merely copying also: Blacksmith's: a workshop where such weapons as sword, spear, and halberd were made.
Big - wheeled cart: long used in farming in he north. With its large wheels over 2 meters in diameter, a long axle, and a big load, it had been in use until the 1970s.
Chess pavilion: a place for soldiers to play chess, usually with a square or round platform and a foursquare or hexad woodstructure overhead.
Militiary podium: of various sizes with a height of 1-2 meters, a platform equipped with the seat for commanders, racks for drum and weapons, banners of order, and a fence all around, where orders were given.
Drum platform: a platform of earth and stones and racks of wood, an important facility on which drums were beaten for various commanding purposes.
Here's a close up of the drum. It looks like the drums in Drum Tower in Xi'An. But to me, it reminds me a lot of my home country.
Commanding banners: symbol of certain military units, serving as the leading guide of military actions.
Shoving chariot: a device against scaling ladders in ancient wars.
Stone thrower: an application of leverage by the ancient Chinese. The earliest making was in the Three Kingdoms Period and there was a rich variety following the Tang and Song dynasties. After the Ming Dynasties, artillery gradually took the place.
Gate - Stopper: a double - wheeled chariot with many spears used to stop enemies when the gate was broken.
Was it a gate like this which they attached the 'stopper'? I stood here gazing afar picturing in mind a hectic war. Every soldier fought to death as if there were no tomorrow. In time of victory, they must have shouted out of joy as if they had gained eternity. In time of defeat, maybe they mourned the lost-loved-ones, maybe they continued the fight among themselves blaming whose fault the lost was, or anything, as if it was end of the world. What's left now? Nothing. Victory and defeat, both entered history the same way.
Sentry: a simple wood structure built in the inner side of the sentry tower for guards to watch and rest in.
More than victory and defeat, perhaps it's the clock itself that stays "something" although in history. I looked at my watch and my jaw dropped. The shadow on this sundial showed the time to the minute precisely! This is what the information board said: Sundial: a timepiece making use of the shadow cast by the sun, consisting of disc with scales and a perpendicular metal bar whose shadow points to the scales. There are several kinds of sundials. If you'd like to know more, you can check it out here in Wikipedia.
Carriage: a transporting vehicle for military commanders or their families, usually square with a round canopy.
This is what an inn was like in the old days. It covers an area of 900 square meters.
No explanation needed, I think. Kitchen, it says.
An enormous long hanging bridge crosses the Taolai River Gorge.
I copy-paste from Jiayuguan's website: Taolai Grand Canyon Taolai River belongs to the system of the Black Rivers,orginally named“Hucanshui”which means“the water given by the God and also called”Big North River.It comes from the Qilian Mountain and flows though about 35 kilometers within Jiayuguan.As a result of the water flowing,scratching all the year round,the upper part of the ricer has been formed a great great gorge with the depth from 50 or 60 meters to 80 meters high.You will be shocked by the ardu-ous valley,steep mountains,onrushing river and other natu-ral sights.
Too bad the day is long in summer. Otherwise I could have waited until sunset before going to the train station. During sunset, even that 'just-a-rock' just now would be remarkable.
I wanted to try. But it seemed there's a fee. Ah, no-lah. See that long stairs up, up, on the right? Let's get back into the car. It was cool this morning, but hot now. Hot wind. Jiāyóu!