... so they threw water down the mountain. As the water froze in the deep winter, people slid the huge stones from the mountain down the ice road. The wall was built.
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012 27 °C
Jiayuguan, August 14th 2012
As my driver drove out of my hotel, Qilian Mountain wearing her snow cap greeted me good morning. There was nothing better to start a day than blue sky and snow caped mountain lining up in her fullest glory along my way. First destination, Jiayu Pass Scenic Area.
A huge crowd had filled in the huge park. Countless tour groups were there, but all local tours. Meaning, Chinese speaking tour guide. Next to the ticket booth stood a huge announcement board about the ticket prices, in 3 languages: Chinese, English, Japanese. Let alone Chinese, I read the English version but did not understand. The Japanese version was also confusing. I couldn't understand what those different prices meant. I examined other guests who bought tickets. All of them were tour guides buying a bunch of tickets. I went into the office on the other side of the building hoping to get a clue. None. Oh well... I went back to the ticket locket and just said I wanted to buy a ticket for 1 adult.
Until now I don't understand what's actually included in this ticket. To the next two places: Great Wall and The First Frusta which photos are also printed in this ticket, I paid again separately. Should they have been included in this single ticket? Hah, I dunno.
This, first thing that captured my sight. My first time to witness snow and desert lining side by side. Let me give you a close up.
I can't forget the documentary I watched on Animal Planet. It was about birds high on the year-long snow-covered mountains in Tibet. Their feathers were blue. As they flew up and down, hopped here and there, they colored the perfect white land with blue spots. They seemed to be eating as they poked their beak into the snow. At first, scientists wondered what these birds were eating, because there seem to be no other living creature on this land. "Are they eating ice?" scientist thought.
After further researched, they found out that actually the ice contained a lot of microorganism carried by wind from the dessert. I was moved on how God sees to it that these birds get well fed. God fed the birds with barbeque from the desert and stored the meal in HIS REFRIGERATOR: Snow. Have you ever woke up in the morning and go to your refrigerator to find something to eat? That's what those birds did. Jesus said, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? " - Matthew 6:26.
A glimpse of Jiuyan Spring Lake, a desert oasis in the old days. There was actually a broader view of the lake. I wanted to visit it after visiting the fortress, but I mistakenly entered the exit gate and wasn't permitted to enter again for the lake.
Wait, let me make a close up first.
This is the entrance gate into Jiayu Pass. The situation was in perfect contrary what I experienced in Jiuzhai Valley Scenic Area previous winter. Making a clear photo without people in the frame was a scarce thing here.
Here are some details of the gate.
A close up of the turret (small tower).
A close up of the wall material structure.
A close up of the traveler.
The whole area turned out to be many many times bigger than what I had imagined. Besides the groups of local tourists at every gate, every spot, part of the area was being under renovation which hindered my way. While writing this I'm still studying about the whole layout and figuring out which one was which. Hopefully I can bring you the picture what Jiayu Pass is about and how does it relate to the Silk Road. Meanwhile I consult my Chinese friend and if I get new information, I promise to update this post.
Copy from Wikipedia: "The pass is trapezoid-shaped with a perimeter of 733 meters and an area of more than 33,500 square meters. The total length of the city wall is 733 meters and the height is 11 meters.
There are two gates: one on the east side of the pass, and the other on the west side. On each gate there is a building. An inscription of "Jiayuguan" in Chinese is written on a tablet at the building at the west gate. The south and north sides of the pass are connected to the Great Wall. There is a turret on each corner of the pass. On the north side, inside the two gates, there are wide roads leading to the top of the pass.
Jiayuguan consists of three defense lines: an inner city, an outer city and a moat."
Another source says, "Jiayuguan has a history over 630 years. In 1372, during the Ming Dynasty, a fortress was built to protect the last frontier of the Chinese empire. It was completely built up in 1540 and became a small township engaged in local trading, catering to the needs of the military garrisons stationed at the fort. The city was used to be the pass of the famous Silk Road and the first pass at the west end of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty."
And this, explains the location: "Jiayuguan Pass stands in the southwest part of Jiayuguan City, about 6 km away from downtown. The castle was begun in 1372 in the Ming Dynasty and located in the Jiayu Highland, hence its name Jiayuguan Pass. It is situated between the Wenshu and Heishan Mountains at the foot of Jiayuguan Hill of Qilian Mountain."
On the platform where the general called the officers in charge and assign them tasks before war in ancient times, I watched a dance performance. The music was very heroic. Without words told, I could grasped what the dance was telling about. Their uniforms instantly reminded me of Roman soldiers. Was that also an influence from the Silk Road??
This was a theater. Herewith I copy the English version from the information board. Please pardon me if the English sounds odd. I'm just copying. I couldn't take a clear picture of the information board, because there was always a group of tourists standing in front of it. "The Theatre Platform faces to the north, which is three rooms wide and two rooms deep. It was rebuilt in 1792AD (the fifty-seventh year in the reign of Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty). The ceiling of the stage is made of wood with the eight Diagrams painted on. On the middle screen, the eight immortals are painted and on the east and west wall the colorful fresco are painted. On both sides of the stage, there is an antithetical couplet, which says: The performances not only show the stories of sadness, goodness, separation and happy gatherings but also describe different type of people including the wise, the loyal, the foolish and the traitorous, whom can be judged by their facial makeup in operas."
How I wish I could eliminate these unwanted silhouettes from my frame. Or do they on the other hand create art?
This is Chaozong Door.
Here's a close up of the entrance door. Once again I copy what's written about this door in the English version. If you think the sentences are funny, so do I think. "Chaozong Door was named after the characters Chaozong that are on gate of Dongweng City, which means "be loyal to the Government and Emperor". South East barbican hack the door to, not with the Guanghua Gate through to the relevant city road roundabout, into the inner city of a line of defense."
Beside the fortress and the wall, there were some other interesting shows like the juggler, the magician,
and... the movie maker.
Out of curiosity, I took a look. It's only 5 yuan. I wanted to know how people back then enjoyed a movie. Besides, jugglers and magicians, I have seen in my country.
So here is how it works. You sit on the stool, and stick your eye behind the whole. It's like when you have an eye check up. Through the whole you see a picture as wide as the box. While you peep through the whole, the woman will tell the story while playing a music instrument. Of course with no doubt, I could understand nothing of what she was telling.
However... I guess the content of the story was rather an adult topic. Adult in quotation marks, you know what I mean. The pictures themselves didn't show anything vulgar but seem to suggest so. At first it was a picture of two mice standing on tiptoe hand in hand by a river. On the other side of the river was a little boy peeing into the river. But a gold fish caught his private part. Well that might be kind of a joke, I thought. Then on the next picture was a man and woman who had just got out off bed. No, they weren't completely naked, but the woman had bare shoulders and held up a quilt over her body while talking to her (ought to be) husband. O... oh... You know what, the other stands were busy with visitors, but in this stand, was only me. No one before me and no one after me came to visit. Is it because of that?? O... oh... Besides being curious, I felt sorry for this lady because she persuaded everyone who passed by but no one came. What did passer-byes think of me seeing me sitting there? O... oh...
Oh ya, to turn to the next screen, the lady would turn the handle on side of the box. There were 4 screens if I remember correctly. I thing that would be the only time I was greatly grateful for my super duper broken Mandarin. Would have I jumped off the stool if I understood her story? O... oh...
Ah, anyway, it was a nice experience. It's somewhat like entering a time tunnel and feel the old days. For sure, you cannot watch movie while munching popcorn!
I'm now out at the other side of the fortress. See how crowded it is!
But... before you enter the gate, you must apply for a passport...
No, no. This passport is just for fun. Inside your passport, a wish for pleasant journey would be written. Lastly, you can have your passport read out aloud.
So, outside here are some activities you can do. Riding on a camel's back of course! It's 30 yuan.
Or, you can fly!
I, had a different interest.
Come on now, let's climb the wall.
Up, up there shall we climb.
Are you okay?
Hah... at last, here we are. Thank you, Blue Sky!
The view from top of the wall.
See you in next post -- more about Jiayuguan.