Monday, 24 May 2010

We Arrive in Xinjiang

Thursday 22nd April. We have just arrived at Xingxingxia on the border between Gansu and Xinjiang, and are waiting for the Animal Health inspectors to give us the all clear to continue. They are quite accustomed to dealing with lorry loads of sheep, cattle, donkeys and even horses, but are a little unsure what to do with travellers who are hoofing it.
We had a perfect day for riding. French and Cable describe places in the Gobi where ‘the ground was covered in with small pieces of white porphyry which looked as though a slight snowstorm had fallen’ and the photo above illustrates this. But only two days ago it was the real thing!
The desert scenery has become more wild and beautiful as we move northwards.Coming over the brow of the hill to the final plain before Xingxingxia, which is to the right of the large hill on the skyline. The straight line of the main road can just be seen in the far distance.
Xingxingxia takes its name from the ravine at the end of which it stands. According to French and Cable it originally meant ‘Ravine of Baboons’ due to the baboons which came down to drink here, but it is now taken to mean ‘Starry Gorge’ after the quartz outcrops on a nearby hill. The baboons have long gone, and neither did the ravine look very starry when we rode through, due to the constant line of lorries throwing up dust on the gravel track which winds along the bottom. Due to construction of the new G3, they have been rerouted along the old road.

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