The end of the beginning


“How can I see the ends of the Great Wall of China without having to go to outer space?”

The end of the Great Wall

One could see the whole Great Wall of China only by watching it from outer space. Since SpaceX won’t be ready anytime soon – and I don’t know if I have enough money at that time heheh  – I decided to go to Jiayuguan, a city at the western border of Gansu and Xinjiang.

Today, I got the answer to my question; seeing the ends – or, rather, the beginning – of Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan Fort. From here, the wall stretched and bordered northern China.

I was told that, during the golden era of Silk Route, the northern and western area beyond this fortress wall were considered ‘outside’ China as they were largely under the Turkish or Mongol occupation. Therefore, foreign Silk Route traders entering China would have to pass and pay tax in this gate.

Jiayuguan was also called ‘The Mouth of China’, not only because this was the western-most entry to the kingdom, it was also the area where the Yellow River brings mineral-rich water to the southeast, but most importantly, it was the area that made (or, captured) money through these passage taxes.

For Chinese traders and travelers to the west, Jiayuguan Fort was the last point before leaving the comfort of homeland China. Outside this wall were bandits, pirates and barren deserts which either excruciatingly hot or, just like what I had today, painfully cold.

And just like those traders, I’m setting my way towards the west. Tonight. Wish me luck.

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