Jiayuguan

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A little polluted city in the middle of a barren waste land pretty much marks the end of the Great Wall. I arrived in the early morning by train and I should have departed that evening but I stayed the night. The accommodation in town isn’t the best but if you search a bit beyond the Lonely Planet recommendations I did find a cheap option that was pretty good. I’m pretty sure I was the only foreigner in town and no one spoke any English. The two sights to see here are the Ming Dynasty Fort and the Great Wall, both of which can be done in a day by peddle power.

The Fort is located 5km west of town so it was an easy flat ride out there. The Fort itself was pretty impressive and on a clear day when the pollution from the surrounding smoke stacks doesn’t cloud your view it is supposedly possible to see the snow-capped Qilian Shan peaks and Hei Shan Mountains. Built in 1372 the Fort was the last major stronghold of Imperial China although their territory often extended much further.

It was pretty quiet at the Fort, there were only a trickle of Chinese tourists around. I spent about an hour looking around and also checked out the museum that was onsite. The Great Wall extended beyond the Fort north towards the mountains and South towards what looked like the middle of nowhere. It was about 9km to the Great Wall from here and it was another easy flat ride. It was a pretty barren ride out to the mountains and the last few kilometres of the road ran parallel to the Wall.

There are two sections of the Wall that can be visited here and are right next to each other although both charge separate fees, the most northerly of the two is the most impressive. Coined the Overhanging Great Wall it runs from the Fort and the flat plains below up into the rocky, jagged mountains. Again some spectacular views are supposedly visible from here but not today, it was a clear day but very hazy. The construction of the Wall here is much different to the section of the wall close to Beijing. Rather than stone brick as I had previously seen, this section is made from mud, straw and mud brick. I had the Wall almost to myself, the opposite to my experience back at Badaling, I came across only 4 other tourists, two of which wanted a photo with me. It was a peaceful ride back to town where I scored some good Muslim-Chinese food from the bazaar and chilled out until my bus to Dunhuang the following day.

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