Finally, a return to the City that has become almost like a second home to Dr. Ben. As always, as the ending to a lenghty flight directly from Amsterdam in Europe, my airliner emerged from a dark and far horizon to descend into clear blue skies, steadily dropping down to the clear and crisp morning of Beijing. Welcome back Dr. Ben ! A new City of Beijing has been awaiting you !
Happy days are here again !!
Yes certainly, a return to Beijing for me is one of the best treats possible. This great City, this barren, dusty and dry land… China, Beijing, the Chongwen- and Xuanwu District Hutong, it has become home-soil to Doc Ben.
The First announcement of good times always comes at dawn. Then, after hours in the tin can surrounded by darkness, when the blackness lifts and one looks outside the big boeings porthole, suddenly – to be confronted with such a vastness.
This Time, that first look outside was somewhere on the far North-Western Borders of the country. There, from 11.000 Meters high, looking down through a frosted window, one can make out a landscape to always remember. Passing fast overhead, down below lie dusty mountains, high plains and a eery emptyness, or so it seems. There are few lights, if any. Road are only small very thin lines pointing somewhere. What most impresses are the snow capped mountain peaks and seemingly endless and empty landscape covered by veil of blueish mist. This is the (former) Silk Road !
Soon, flying far North but with an excellent view, the route passes by the Tarim Basin, home of the southern and northern routes of the far western silk road in China. The Tarim, China’s third largest river is nowhere to be found. Only traces remain after a dry and hot summer season and the aircraft is too high and too far north to pick up the details. From 11.000 meters one only sees but a vast dust- and mist-shrouded valley stretching due west. Due West untill the magnificient Qilian Shan range closes the gap, meeting up with the Tibetan Plateau more to the South.
Qilian Shan, the snowcovered and gleaming high peaks, used to be the loyal Northern Guards of the "Mouth of China".
Somewhere down below behind those magnificient snow covered tops must be the small town of Dunhuang, once an oasis announcing the safety of Chinese controlled lands. Soon, Doc Ben will be on the ground out-there, making the distances to try and cover it all i just 7 days !
Dunhuang is nowhere to be found in the vastness far off. Quickly, the aircraft passes on to Mongolia – heading due west-south-west. More wilderness and brown dust covered lands enclosed by endless roughness of hills, mountains, salty ponds and … nothing so it seems.
The monotonous landscape is only broken by the huge Lake Baikal, on the order of Russia and Mongolia. Then ??
A little bit of patience will bring everyone down into the inviting morning sun of Beijing. The still rapidly changing, and always magnificient Capital City of this vast land.
Beijing – The New Face of an Old City …
More coming in the next Blog Item !!