Day 48 - Friday 19th May - Zhangye to Jiayuguan

The morning oil check revealed that the oil was over full. The concerns of the previous day that It had suddenly started burning oil was unfounded. I think the car must have been on a slope when I checked.  

The land around Zhangye was dry. Farming was isolated to those areas that had access to irrigation. As we passed a number of plots, the fields were being tilled by farmers with donkey drawn ploughs. In the background fast trains shot past.

The areas without irrigation were a desolate grey brown plain.

To the south the snow-capped mountains of the Qilian Shan followed us all the way to Jiayuguan.

We were told that Jiayuguan was the western end of the Great Wall. We visited the now restored / rebuilt fort with its western gate. Supposedly in times gone by this was the end of known civilisation. Travelers heading through it were venturing into the uncivilised and unknown. As the Silk Road developed, this point became a major taxing point for the Chinese. This was the end of old China.

We were in the narrow pan handle of Gansu. This corridor, bordered by the mountains to the north and south is called the Hexi Corridor. The Great Wall was built to the north to stop the hordes invading. It was supposedly impregnable. At least that was until Ghengis Khan came along.

The Western Gate was the point that travellers both entered or departed China. It was a major taxing point and provided security for those who had crossed the mountains and deserts to the west.

There were ways around the gate, but to do so meant aclimb of 4500m over the Tibetan Plateau or walk through the Gobi desert, neither of which seemed attractive to travellers in the past.  

At our morning tea stop, the car engaged reverse gear, but went at a ¼ speed. The diagnosis was that we think it’s a selector problem. Again no oil was used.