You approach Jiāyùguān (嘉峪关) through the forbidding lunar landscape of north Gānsù. It’s a fitting setting, as Jiāyùguān marks the symbolic end of the Great Wall, the western gateway of China proper and, for imperial Chinese, the beginning of the back of beyond. One of the defining points of the Silk Road, a Ming dynasty fort was erected here in 1372 and Jiāyùguān came to be colloquially known as the ‘mouth’ of...
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