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Potted Landscape by the Yellow River
Long River in the Desert

The ancient Great Wall

The ancient Great Wall

After passing Qingtongxia reservoir built near the Yellow River, we could not wait to reach Shapotou which is famous for its achievements in halting the moving sand dunes. The place located on the eastern edge of Tengger Desert became one of the railway stations along the Baotou-Lanzhou line constructed in the early 50s when the country mobilized all its citizens to develop northwestern China. To guarantee that the trains passed through without any problems, the local people and technical personnel worked together for days and nights in order to combat the desert. They succeeded in their fight by bundling hay into triangular or cylindrical shapes to use as barriers. They used these barriers to make pens one square meter in size and planted trees in the center in order to create shelter belts about ten meters in width on both sides of the railway. This brought a halt to the moving sand dunes. Due to its success, Shapotou was named in the world's 500 Best in Environmental Protection Schemes. Seeing the world fabulous man-made "scenery", we were deeply moved by this natural way to contain the powerful strength of nature.

108 Pagodas in the Qingtongxia Reservoir area.

108 Pagodas in the Qingtongxia Reservoir area.

Now Shapotou serves as the meeting place of the three dragons--the Yellow River, the Tengger Desert and the railway. The spot is also a famous place for sand sliding. We climbed up a 100-meter high sand hill and slid down to the Yellow River bank before floating down to the Yellow River bank before floating down to the river on a raft made from sheep-skin. The river's water flows gently in some places but can suddenly change to a faster pace as you pass several bends. As we went down the river we were filled with excitement. Our skilled young rafter briefed us on the scenic spots and the related stories behind them as if talking about his family treasures, while maneuvering the raft. Sometimes he was so excited that he sang very loudly the song, "The Yellow Rivers Has 99 Bends" His echoing voice lingered over the river which stretches far into the distance, lined by hills on either side.

Life of the desert

Life of the desert

We stepped onto dry land in order to enjoy a camel ride deep into the Tengger Desert. When we stopped at the sand dunes, the sun was just about to disappear at the point where the sea met the desert. Suddenly it was as if the desert had put on a particularly gorgeous piece of clothing. After a little while, the sky turned black and the beautiful desert scene was gone. In its place the whole world of the desert was enveloped in a wild stillness.

That night we stayed in the Shapo Mountain Villa and slept very soundly accompanied by the sound of waves hitting the river bank.



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