Jolly Jiayuguan

The Silk Road Adventure, Part IV

Erdem competing with the locals at their chess-like game

Erdem competing with the locals at their chess-like game

April 29, 2013

Jiayuguan–Waking up without consuming anything but sand since the night before was slightly unpleasant so, Ivy, Erdem, Bow, and I wandered around the town looking to consume something healthy. We came across a little noodle shop which was very common in the area and ordered some breakfast. The woman who owned the shop could only be described as the jolliest Chinese woman I have ever seen. I had never witnessed a woman so full of character–and all of this animation was displayed while simply discussing noodles! After graciously thanking her for what turned out to be an unparalleled bowl of noodles and snapping a photo with my new favorite cook, we headed toward the Jiayu Pass.

This is a part of the Great Wall that the town is best known for, but its dull exterior and high entrance fee pushed us to detour toward a gorge that is popular with tourists. We had fun goofing off with giant statues and walking across a rickety bridge. After chatting with the cab driver who informed us that Americans (along with French and Germans) are the most “civilized” of all the nationalities he has met, he dropped us off at the town center to lounge around one of the many huge, luscious parks.

On our way around the city, I noticed a common sense of calm among commuters. It may have been the fact that we were in the city during a national holiday, lending a relaxed vibe to the locals, but everyone seemed less rushed than Beijingers. Even when our bus puttered to a stop and broke down in the middle of the route, people seemed to quietly observe the scenario, shrug their shoulders and then meander toward the bus that arrived a minute later to gather the passengers. I just imagined the mass chaos that would’ve erupted in Beijing if that had happened. It was a wonderful change of pace.

We dined in the middle a huge market with restaurants offering lamb kebabs and nan bread at every single corner and karaoke bars spotted in between. After dinner, we were off to board our train that would head to an entirely different province; Xinjiang. I had repeatedly been told by colleagues of the province’s great contrast from other parts of China, but I had no idea how much of a surprise I was in for the following day.

The jolliest cook in China

The jolliest cook in China