Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Outing to Mount Xu Mi

This past weekend, the officials in charge of us planned an outing to a Buddhist mountain a couple hours away.

It was an altogether delightful chance to see some of the countryside here in Ningxia.  Enjoy the photos!

Sunflowers from the van window.  We also saw corn and goji berries growing.  The drive was the best part!

We sometimes passed caves in the mountains.  Apparently people lived in them in the past but mostly use them now for storage or animals, if they haven't been closed up altogether.

Baby sunflower with a mosque in the distance

Here is Xu Mi Mountain.  The left part has a giant carved Buddha and the part on the far right has stairs, caves, and little temples.

We walked through this pretty little valley to get across to the Buddha

There he is.  There was a museum at the site that told us about how Buddhism spread through China along the Silk Road, which went through this area somewhere.

Then we climbed up the right side.  Here's a little side trail to see Cave #15.  These small caves had small doors or windows but we couldn't go inside.

The climb and one of the little Buddha huts built into a cave.

Nearing the top

Beautiful Ningxia

Me with teammates Meggi and Larry -- the only ones on our team to go all the way up.

Our Chinese leaders all made the climb.

Meggi with Mr. Li, a leader we see every day at school, and Jack, a Chinese teacher who has been given the daunting task of taking care of the foreigners.

Time for the drive back!  Here are some goji berries drying with the goji bushes behind them.

Let's pause for a second to learn something interesting.  Several years ago, the government wanted to move Haiyuan (the town I'm in now) to a different location where there would be more water.  So they built a nice new town.  But then people didn't move there.

We drove through the new city before knowing what it was, and we couldn't believe how beautiful and wide the roads were.  There were half-finished and fully-finished-but-empty shopping centers, there were traffic lights that hadn't been turned on (and weren't needed), and everything was clean and empty.  We saw only a few vehicles.  It really seems like a ghost city, but it was never inhabited in the first place.  Very strange.

(Our Chinese friends tell us there are plans to bring in some factories and that the town will probably fill up as people come to take the factory jobs.)

Empty city hall; empty plaza

Down the main road of the new city

We called the new town "Mannequin City" because we saw a few mannequins (but no people) in some of the store windows.  Here I am impersonating a mannequin while standing in no danger in the middle of the road.. 

The drive continues.  Love that blue sky!

More sunflowers

There were lots of homes like these in the villages we passed.

That's it!  It was a fun day and I hope there's another outing in my future before I leave Haiyuan next Thursday.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to see one of the fabled modern ghost towns when I went to China, but didn't have time... so I'm jealous you got to see one! You just have to wonder when malinvestment on such a massive scale is going to come back and bite them in the rear.