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July 2003 Vacation in Ningxia Province (top page)

Click here for Vivian's description of our vacation.   Click below for Sha-po-tou desert photos (also in Ningxia).

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Sub-pages:  Home Up Sha-po-tou Desert

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Our Ning-xia vacation started in Yin-Chuan so we could see a part of the Great Wall 1000 KM (600 miles) away from the famous Beijing sections. Our guide Jonathon (above with Andrew) said bricks were still there when he was a child, but they are now all gone, allowing the wind and rain to take their toll. In this picture you can see at least four towers (two above their heads), plus the extra-large signal tower they are on. The fourth person (below left) is our friend Alistair, a teacher from Scotland who traveled with us. (Click here for photos from our 2004 visit to Alistair in Scotland.)

To give you an idea of the size of these man-made packed-earth towers, that's Andrew waving his arms (below) on the same "hill" that is behind the foursome and "under" Andrew and Jonathon above.

Blue skies and blazing sunshine followed us from the Great Wall to the famous He-lan mountains, home to hundreds of rock carvings that date back 5000 years. Experts read many possible meanings into the intriguing forms--though Andrew is sure at least some of the scratchings are just the way ancient kids drew the BIG bugs that pestered us during the visit!

The beautiful structure below was in Yin-chuan's public park, while the enchanting park at the right was in Zhong-wei (three hours down the Yellow River near Sha-po-tou). The curvaceous roof of Zhong-wei's 15th century temple is about the only thing that survived a 1942 fire.

Huge water wheels like these distant ones (bottom left) were used for centuries to irrigate the land. Like most Chinese cities, Yin-chuan also has a beautiful bell tower (bottom right).

Yin-chuan's main tourist attraction (above) is the dirt remains of once-elaborate 1000-year-old Royal Tombs. The Xia Dynasty was one of the last Chinese kingdoms to fall under the heavy hand of the Mongols (Genghis Khan). The Silk Road brought Islam to the minority Hui people who make up a significant proportion of Ning-xia Province (the city's biggest Mosque is pictured). Finally, Alistair and Andrew relax during our 13-hour train ride back to Xi'an.

(The delta ∆ marks photos by Alistair.)

Click here to see more vacation photos of nearby "Sha-po-tou," and click here for Vivian's description of our vacation. There are also a few worth-reading reflections on the summer in our monthly update for summer 2003.

The Chinese-language website for Ning-xia is


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