While in Dunhuang, we took a day trip to Ya Dan National Park (雅丹地貌).
To be fair, only ONE of us really wanted to go see the National Park.
While I am suitably impressed by the National Park’s badass nickname, Demon City (魔鬼城), it was not really enough to convince me to take a two hour (and VERY expensive) cab ride to see what appears, to my uneducated eye, to be a bunch of rocks.
I was finally swayed when we heard we were going to hit a few other (free) detours along the way. You can’t blame me. I am Singaporean and I cannot resist a bargain.
On the way to Demon City (I HAVE to use this name), we stopped at Dunhuang Old Town where we accidentally walked right onto a movie set! We have no idea what the movie is about or who the actors are, but there were many minions running around, so it must be a big production, right?
From the meaningful looks some of the actors were giving us, we think they were expecting us to go clamour for their autographs…. Or it could possibly be to ask us to get our modern dressed ass off the set… I can’t be sure.
Apparently, this was not an uncommon sight in Dunhuang Old Town. The whole town was built to be a movie set, and many productions are filmed there every year. Was the movie set worth the price of admission? Probably not.
But for us, it was a good chance to have a bit of goofy Kungfu Movie fun!
In fact we had so much fun at Dunhuang Old Town that it was already pretty late when we hit the Demon City. We were required to watch a movie about how the rocks were formed (quote: zzzzz…), along with video footage of UFO sightings in the area (quote: AWESOME) before we were allowed into the National Park.
So after a 3 hour drive and a half hour movie, there we have it!
A bunch of rocks!
Ok, I am being a bit harsh here. It was a bunch of rocks in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
To be fair, the rock formations were really impressive, but I was a bit turned off by the attempts to name what looks like (and again this applies only to my uneducated eye) a bunch of rocks.
There was also a limit to the amount of time we could spend in the park. We were driven to all the more famous rock formations (Sphinx, Lion Chasing A Man, Fleet of Ships, Lion-Chasing Fleet of Ship, Sphinx-Chasing Man, you get the idea…), and were told in no uncertain terms that if we were not back in the vehicle by the time allocated, we would be left in the middle of Demon City.
They seemed to mean it as a threat…
But there was a wide expanse of desert and a lot of rocks, so the ten minutes we got to spend at each formation was kind of fun too.
We had one final treat in store for us on the way back to Dunhuang.
A visit to the famous Jade Pass (玉門關) – the supposed Final Frontier of civilization for ancient China. Having read a lot about the Jade Pass in the Tang poems during my Chinese Literature days, I was suitably excited.
When we finally reached the final bastion of civilized man, where wars were fought and lives were lost, where Persian spice traders meet with Chinese silk merchants, where exiled Chinese court officials were sent never to return, there we have it…
A bunch of rocks!