In between Lanzhou and Dunhuang sits the small town of Jiayuguan, which was once the westernmost outpost of the Chinese empire. Centuries ago, a huge fort marked the end of the Great Wall and the beginning of barbarian lands. Today, China’s reach extends much farther west to Xinjiang. But the fort and Great Wall have been rebuilt, commemorating that period in Chinese history. The experience is “enhanced” by the plentiful opportunities to play pretend-you’re-a-Ming-warrior. But the fort is still impressive, especially if you can look out into the desert, past the camel rides, and imagine what it must have felt like to be there, utterly alone, guarding China’s frontier.
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The Jiayuguan Fort is located just outside the modern town of Jiayuguan, and it can be reached by bus #4. Entrance to the fort, which includes access to a small museum, costs 100 RMB during the high season. (Student tickets are available for 50 RMB.) The section of the Great Wall nearest the fort is called the Overhanging Great Wall (Xuanbi Changcheng, 悬壁长城). Entrance is 25 RMB (no student price). A round-trip taxi from the fort to the Great Wall and back to town cost 50 RMB.
This is the latest in a series of weekly slideshows spotlighting places I’ve been on my travels, in China and beyond. You can view more of my photos at To China and Beyond’s Picasa page and Flickr page. For photos from other travelers, check out DeliciousBaby’s Photo Friday.