Friday, October 4, 2013

Do Not Terrify the Craven Bharal

Baisikou pagodas
Up bright and early for a flight to Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Province, 1,100 kms away in China's arid mid-west, on the border with Inner Mongolia and the Tengger Desert. 
It's our first Chinese package tour, though only the guides are local - the rest of us are German, Polish-Swiss, French-Canadian, Italian and a Finn, including - by coincidence - our German friend Ruth and her two children (much to the delight of our two).
Helan Shan
Yinchuan is a 'small' city of about 1.2m, situated on the Yellow River. To the west rise the Helan Shan mountains, which is where we headed - first to see the twin pagodas of Baisikou, built as part of a (now gone) temple complex in the Xi Xia Dynasty in the 1100s. The pagodas themselves are incredibly well preserved. 
We then drove further into the mountains to see a valley full of petroglyphs (rock carvings) dating back to around 500BC. It was an easy stroll up an arid rock-strewn valley, past some great Chinglish signs like "Do Not Terrify the Craven Bharal*", and there they were: some barely discernible, others suspiciously pristine after 2,500 years of being open to the elements. The museum at the entrance was disappointing in the extreme, though the view across the mountains as sunset approached was gorgeously dreamy. 

* Bharal are mountain goats

1 comment:

  1. There was a Finn on our flight to Guilin - could even be the same one!