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March 20-21

Lanzhou was once a stop along the silk road, situated as it is along the farthest western section of the Yellow River. Nowadays it has become the industrial capital of the west, and the smog was so thick you could look straight up and not see the sky.

We only had 24 hours in the city and we spent it seeing a local mountain to get above the smog. We drove up by taxi for a few bucks and walked down, which took about two and a half hours.

We were there for just one full day, March 20th, seeing some great markets, climbing the aforementioned mountain, and seeing some of the worst toilets I've ever seen. On the morning of the 21st, we caught the 24-hour train to Urumqi, seeing some truly fantastic pictures of mountains, deserts, and rivers as we went.

Here is a picture of a town outside of Lanzhou. As you can see, the landscape has changed considerably, from a cold and temperate climate to that of dry plains and mountains. The mountains you can see in the distance are the beginning of an enormous mountain range that eventually becomes the Tibetan plateau.

This next photo shows how unfortunately dirty much of China is, this being one of many garbage dumps that litter the countryside. Considering all the empty space, Note how the right-hand image is punctuated by the two pigs rummaging through the trash.

After 24 hours on the train, we arrived in Urumqi...

c. 2005 Christopher Gunson