Travel the Silk Road in China’s Gansu Province – Episode 436

categories: asia travel

Hear about travel to the Silk Road in China’s Gansu Province as the Amateur Traveler talks again to Lee Moore from Silk Road Hitchhikers about his trip to this historic and remote part of China.

The Gansu province connects Central China to the western portion of China. It is defined by the Silk Road. It is the part of china that connects “China China” with central asian China. Lee had a project to hitchhike the Silk Road which is why he traveled there.

“Our overall route went from Xian, which is where the terracotta warriors are, which is just a little east of Gansu to the other end to the most western city called Kashgar. Gansu is right in the middle of that. It is this long province. It is almost an arm that reaches out from Central China to the west.”

“You are probably going to start out in Lanzhou which is the provincial capital and it is in the southeastern corner of Gansu. There is not much interesting there but you will have to go through there. From there you can go about 3 or 4 hours east to a city called Tianzhu and that has some amazing Buddhist grottos. There are these Buddhist statuary carved onto the side of a cliff face. They have bolted these stairs and walkways into the cliff face so you can go up and look quite close at these little caves. Construction began around 400 A.D. This is part of the Silk Road heritage. Buddhism came in from India over the Silk Road. Still in Tianzhu there is a temple for Fuxi who is supposedly the founder of the Chinese Race. He invented the Chinese writing.”

Lee also interacted with Tibetan people in the mountainous parts of Gansu. His trip included some spontaneous stays with locals, some successful and some unsuccessful attempts at hitchhiking, and a visit to the rebuilt “end” of the Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan. He was more impressed with the paintings in the caves at Dunhuang.

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Show Notes

Silk Road Hitchhikers
Independent Travel to Beijing, China – Episode 193
Three Weekend Trips From Shanghai – Episode 227
Travel to the Yunnan Province of China – Episode 319
Gansu Travel Guide
Silk Road China
Maiji Caves
Fuxi Temple
Tianzhu County
Maya Snow Mountain
Qinghai Lake
Jiayuguan City
Mogao Caves
Crescent Lake
White Horse Pagoda
History of China


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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

One Response to “Travel the Silk Road in China’s Gansu Province – Episode 436”



I’ll try to add some more info to this episode.

1. Most of the Great Wall was quite modestly built is because all the Wall only needs to stop the herds of the invading tribes.
2. The caves at Dunhuang was rediscovered in late 19th century, & a great deal of artifacts were sold to a English explorer in 1907 by a local Taoist priest. The mural paintings there are thought of as chinese equivalent of the Sistine chapel.
3. Han Chinese has considered Gansu as a core province since around 100 BC, likely because of its geographical importance to stop any foreign invasion from the west. During the Han dynasty, the Emperor moved 500 to 700,000 people to settle in this province. The Emperor Wu’s campaign into Central Asia also required this region to serve as the corridor to extend Chinese soveignty as far as Chechnya.

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