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The beginning or end of China - whether journeying east or west - Jiayuguan stands as the mighty starting point of the Great Wall of China. Here is a formidable barrier to enemies or a welcome respite to citizens.

Jiayuguan - the Gates of Jiayu, evokes power and might. This was a military fortress of impossible strength for hundreds of years. Threats rose and fell throughout the years, most precariously that of the tyrannical ruler Tamurlane, a ruthless leader tearing through vast land regions with ease. The Chinese frantically and strategically constructed this final section of the Great Wall to prevent Tamerlane from walking into China, but ultimately the threat never materialized as Tamerlane fell ill and died right before on his conquest towards China. To this day, the fortress still stands in the middle of the desert, reminding every merchant and traveler of their entrance into China. On the other side of the spectrum, if travelling from China to the west, it is where the security of the Middle Kingdom ends and you are thrust into immense dangers, whether it be banditry, starvation, and losing your way in the desert.

A 14th century legend revolves around the construction of the formidable pass. A respectable engineer and workman at that time in charge of construction was asked exactly how many bricks were needed to complete the pass, or else strict punishment ensued. “99,999” he replied confidently. It turns out his calculation was astonishingly correct - except for one brick that remained loosely on one of the gates. Upon discovering the brick, his supervisors questioned him harshly; however, he replied sternly that supernatural powers have placed the brick there, and upon removing it, the wall will collapse. The brick has remained there to this day.

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How We Got Here

We reached Jiayuguan from a very long (20+ hour) train from Jiangyou, traversing an assortment of landscapes along the way.

The Highlight

Simply walking along the end of the Great Wall, seeing it abruptly stop and knowing going the other direction it stretches for thousands of miles.

Our Treasure

The train journey still stands as a clear memory, both in its long and quickly nature, but also for the stunning landscapes we flew by - ice capped peaks, deserts, canyons and villages.

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     ➨  Veins of the World

S N A P S H O T S   O N   T H E   R O A D

W H E R E   W I L L   Y O U R   J O U R N E Y   T A K E   Y O U   N E X T ?

Though seemingly by chance, you made it into China, catching glimpse of the legendary Great Wall.

The road to Hangzhou continues, finding rest in earby oasis of Zhangye.


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