Vera Menafee ’20 shares highlights of the groups visit to the Gobi Desert and The Ghost City.
Black, white, and yellow sand stretched out in every direction until we could only see sky. Huge, gray clouds hung above our heads. We stepped off the bus, legs numb and fuzzy from the hour-long drive; our thoughts still lingering on the tasty rooftop breakfast from earlier. We got in a good stretch walking around the quiet landscape. After snapping some pictures and attempting to sled down a small hill, we shuffled back onto the bus to complete the rest of the two-hour journey deeper into the Gobi Desert.
We reached our first stop, a Silk Road museum, and took a quick bathroom break before beginning our lesson for the day. The museum contained relics, small block paintings, topographic maps, and informational checkpoints. We were free to roam the exhibit at our own pace and read the checkpoints as they appeared, learning about the importance of the Silk Road to the development of China and its trading partners.
Soon enough, we were back outside, taking in mountains and patches of green and hot, humid air. A path lead us to a little “castle” to pass through and eventually reach a wooden high rise to look out at the view. The mountains felt even closer and through a squint, yellows and browns and greens and greys blended together in my eyes. It was beautiful, and the one and only Silk Road was right here. The rich history was pulsing through us all as we looked out and thought of all the eyes that saw these mountains and feet that walked this land.
After standing in the overpowering heat and capturing a few more pictures, the indoors was beckoning us and Kelly Laoshi even treated us to a popsicle of our choice. Our mango, yogurt, and even green bean flavored popsicles held us until lunch an hour away. We were greeted by royal purple slipcovers wrapping our seats and another lazy Susan soon adorned by familiar dishes we could all share once again.
“Chi bao le, chi bao le” (meaning full), uttered everyone before returning back to the bus and heading for our last destination, the Yadan National Geological Park, also known as Ghost City. The landmark gets its name, not only from the absent wildlife for miles, but the screaming winds that sound like the cries of lost souls. A breeze was sweeping up sand and visitors’ umbrellas, but no screams came along.
Despite the missing blue sky, the beauty and mystery of the rock formations could not be overlooked. As we saw more and more, we made a game of identifying their shapes and how we interpreted them. The Gobi Desert is truly entrancing. Sand, mountains and geological wonders encompass you and trap you under their spell. The landscape is much, much different from the one we became so accustomed to back in Beijing. However, the history and beauty never left.
The bus was carrying us once again for our drive to dinner, then the hotel, to pack, rest, and relfect before we say goodbye to the sandy dunes of Dunhuang and hello to the metal skyscrapers of Shanghai.
Our trip is coming close to its end, but we are all determined to take in everything China still has to offer us before we return home.