Archive for the ‘Alxa League Travel’ Category

Euphrates Poplar Forests at Ejina Banner

Friday, July 10th, 2015
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Euphrates poplar (Populus euphratica), or Desert Poplar, is an ancient species of poplar tree in the willow family. The poplar trees change colors with seasons – green in spring and summer, yellow and golden on autumn, and red in winter. The Euphrates Poplar trees (Also known as Diversifolius Poplar) turning yellow in the deep summer offer a great photograph opportunity, very often attracting crowds of visitors.

The Euphrates Poplar trees in Ejina Banner ( Ejina Qi in Chinese ) of Alxa League ( Alashan ) in the west of Inner Mongolia in China is one of the three remaining natural Euphrates Poplar Forests (Also known as Diversifolius Poplar) in the world with a total forest area of 30,000 hectares. The other two huge areas of Euphrates Poplar Forests are Sahara Desert and Taklamakan Desert in Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang of China . The whole area becomes a sea of golden leaves, enticing a consistent flow of tourists to enjoy the amazing scenery each year. In 1992, the Ejna Banner Euphrates Poplar Forest Nature Reserve was established there.

Recently years the local governments at all levels have made great efforts building a tourist friendly Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing District. Now it has become a hot tourist destination for tourists and photographers who flock here to view the magnificent golden fairyland. When you plan your Inner Mongolia Tour, or especially the West Inner Mongolia Tour, Ejina Euphrates Poplar Forests is a big draw that you should not miss.

The Best Time to Go
While plan your trip to Ejina Banner for viewing Euphrates Poplar, you should understand the best time for the fall foliage. Basically the half month from October 01 through October 15 is the most ideal period for seeing the yellow and golden leaves of the Euphrates Poplar trees in Ejina.

How to Get There
Located far west of Inner Mongolia and bordering Mongolia, Ejina Banner is difficult to take public transport to get there. Self-drive is the most popular mode of travel visiting the poplar forests. It is a scenic drive that allows you to see the massive and mesmerizing Badain Jaran Desert. You may drive to Ejina from Bayanhot (650km), Jiayuguan (37okm), and Hohhot (1600km).

Entrance Fee and Where to Stay
The Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing District is just located on the east of Dalaihubu Town (达来呼布镇) , the seat of the Ejina Banner Government. So you may book a hotel , or put up in a tent in the town of Dalaihubu. Homestay is also a good alternative.

Entrance fee: RMB 170 ( including the shuttle bus service inside the scenic area).

How to Visit the Ejina Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing District
The paid sightseeing area is located on the east of Dalaihubu Town ( the seat of Ejinan Banner). The whole area is about 20 km long, 15 km wide at the widest and one km at the narrowest. The whole belt is peppered with Euphrates poplar trees, red willow frees and desert bushes.

The whole poplar area is mainly composed of four sectons – Erdaoqiao (二道桥), Sidaoqiao(四道桥), Qidaoqiao(七道桥) and Badaoqiao (八道桥). The Erdaoqiao Section is close to the west entrance ( adjacent to the town of Dalaihubu) and Badaqiao is the east end of the sightseeing belt on the east entrance to the sightseeing belt.

Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing Tips

1. See Sunrise at Badaqiao (八道桥)
Badaqiao Sightseeing Area is actually the northern edge of Badain Jaran Desert, one of the best places to see the sunrise over sand dunes and play on the desert. This section is the furthest from the Town of Dalaihuba. I recommend you get up early to catch the early shuttle bus from the west gate and go to the furthest section of Badaoqiao to see the sunrise, then come back to visit Qidaoqiao, Sidaoqiao and Erdaoqiao on a return trip.

When we get to Badaqiao, we see many tourist standing on the sand dunes and waiting for the sunrise. Busy shooting the rising sun, cameras and mobiles

Busy shooting the rising sun, cameras and mobiles

Busy shooting the rising sun, cameras and mobiles

The camel man riding a camel on a high dune is going back and forth to pose for the tourists on the scene.

Sunrise over the sand dunes with camels on the top

Sunrise over the sand dunes with camels on the top

2. See Euphrates Poplar at Qidaoqiao (七道桥)
After seeing the sunrise at Badaqiao and simple breakfast at the foot of the sand dunes, we continue to get on a shuttle bus for the next section of Qidaoqiao. Qidaoqiao is home to the youngest poplar trees in Ejina Euphrates Poplar Forest. They are the first poplar trees to turn yellow and golden.

A wooden path winds through the Qidaqiao Area and you don’t have to retrace. Both entrances at Qidaoqiao have shuttle bus stations that brings you to the next destination.

People stroll on the board walkway, enjoying the scenery on the both sides.

People stroll on the board walkway, enjoying the scenery on the both sides.

People stroll on the board walkway, enjoying the scenery on the both sides.

Feeling as if you were in a wonderland of the golden world.

Feeling as if you were in a wonderland of the golden world.

Feeling as if you were in a wonderland of the golden world.

 

3. Amazed by the “Heroic Euphrates Poplar” at Sidaoqiao (四道桥)
The Euphrates Polar trees at Sidaoqiao are old and massive, telling us a story of “audacity” in the face of the arid and hard land for centuries. Euphrates Poplar trees are said to “exist for three thousand years – live for one thousand years, dead for one thousand years and rotten for one thousand years”. Here you are able to feel the “Heroism” of the old poplar trees.

Take the shuttle bus from Qidaoqiao to Sidaoqiao.

Take the shuttle bus from Qidaoqiao to Sidaoqiao.

Take the shuttle bus from Qidaoqiao to Sidaoqiao.

Fallen, but not collapsed

Fallen, but not collapsed

Fallen, but not collapsed

Collapsed, but not rotten.

Collapsed, but not rotten.

Collapsed, but not rotten.

 

4. Enjoy the reflections of Poplar Trees on water at Erdaoqiao (二道桥)
Erdaoqiao is my favorite section to view the Euphrates Poplar trees. Here you are able to catch the wonderful views of Euphrates Poplar mirrored on water.

A row or Euphrates Poplar Trees are mirrored on the water, an amazing spectacle.

A row or Euphrates Poplar Trees are mirrored on the water, an amazing spectacle.

A row or Euphrates Poplar Trees are mirrored on the water, an amazing spectacle.

Golden Poplar trees, drying river bed and wooden bridge.

Golden Poplar trees, drying river bed and wooden bridge.

Golden Poplar trees, drying river bed and wooden bridge.

Posed in front of an old Euphrates Poplar tree by the river.

Posed in front of an old Euphrates Poplar tree by the river.

Posed in front of an old Euphrates Poplar tree by the river.

The West Entrance to Ejina Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing Area.

The West Entrance to Ejina Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing Area.

The West Entrance to Ejina Euphrates Poplar Sightseeing Area.

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A Glimpse of Badain Jaran Desert
Heicheng Ruins in Ejina Qi, Inner Mongolia

Any questions, just drop a line.

 

Heicheng Ruins in Ejina Qi, Inner Mongolia

Friday, July 10th, 2015
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Heicheng Ruins (黑城遗址) has multiple names – Heishui City Ruins, Black City Ruins, Black Water City Ruins, the formerly Khar Khot (Mongolian) and Eji Nai City (Tangut language).

Heicheng Ruins is located 35km southeast of Dalaihubu Town, Ejina Banner (Qi) in Alxa (Alashan) League, in the west of Inner Mongolia. It is an ancient fortress that was first built in 1032 and later became a trade center of Tangut Empire (1038 – 1227). The current Ejina is named after the Eji Nai City (Black Water City) in Tangut language.

The Heicheng City was an important northern fortress on the northwest of the former Tangut Empire. Now It lies on the arid desert bank of the lower reaches of Heishui River, the largest existent fortress along the ancient Silk Road.

The walled military town was first attacked and taken by Genghis Khan in 1226. The ancient town continued to develop and flourish under Mongol Empire. In Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368), the city was expanded.

In 1372, the last general of Yuan Dynasty named Khara Bator was surrounded to the armies of Ming Dynasty ( 1368 1644). After the defeat, the city was abandoned and left in ruins.

Heicheng Ruins is now a major Historical and Cultural Site protected at the National Level, a tourist destination in Ejina Qi. Basically a visit to Heicheng Ruins is often combined with a visit to “Guaishulin” – the Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest.

To visit Heicheng Ruins, you may first go to the main entrance to Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins Scenic Area (黑城怪树林景区), 28km southwest of Dalaihubu Town, where you line up for the shuttle bus that brings you to the Heicheng Ruins, 15km to the northeast of Guaishulin (Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest and 35km southeast of Dalaihubu Town. We suggest you first go visit Heicheng Ruins, then come back for viewing Guaishulin ( Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest).

If you are going to visit the West Inner Mongolia on your Inner Mongolia Tour, Heicheng Ruins is an interesting draw you should not miss, especially if you are interested in Chinese history.

Now follow me to have a glimpse of Heicheng Ruins. First go from Dalaihubu Town to the main entrance to a combined two-site area of Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins. Take the shuttle bus to visit Heicheng Ruins first, 15 km to the northeast of the entrance. By the entrance is Guaishulin – Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest.

Line up for the shuttle bus that brings you to Heicheng Ruins, 15km to the northeast of the entrance.

Line up for the shuttle bus

Line up for the shuttle bus

Get off at the shuttle bus, you need to walk another 15 minutes before you get close to the ruined city. The ancient fortress is exposed on the wild, arid desert, you should be well armed to protect yourself against the scorching sun, wearing sun glasses, sun creams, umbrella and scarf. A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site stands on the way to the city.

A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site

A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city. You are kindly reminded to be ready for hats, sun glassed, sun cream against the hot weather.

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

The old fortress is rectangle in shape with two gates on the west and east. The outer wall has a perimeter of 1600 meters, east to west 434 meters, north to south 384 and 10 meters in height. On the northwest of the corner wall, there are several Buddhist Pagoda atop the wall. Inside the wall, you still can discern the original houses, offices, streets and so on.

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides, threatening to cover the whole city.

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides

We enter the outer wall of the city through its west gate which includes an inner city. A wooden path is set up on the major area within the rammed city wall. You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside.

You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside

You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside

On the northwest corner, several pagodas atop the wall.

several pagodas atop the wall.

several pagodas atop the wall.

Walking within rammed city of Heicheng, people are feeling the history. Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

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Sunset over Guaishulin
Euphrates Poplar Forests at Ejina Qi

 

Sunset over Guaishulin

Friday, July 10th, 2015
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Planning your West Inner Mongolia Tour? “Guaishulin”, literally “weird forest”, here refers to the Dead Euphrates Poplar Forests in Ejina Qi ( Ejina Banner ), in the west of Inner Mongolia, China.

Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins are a combined tourist destination, a big draw in Ejina Qi (Banner). It is located 28km southwest of Dalaihubu, the seat of Ejina Qi government. The entrance to the Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins Tourist Destination is close to Guaishulin. For Heicheng Ruins, you have to take the shuttle bus service by the entrance to the old fortress 15km away in the northeast.

Unlike the autumn yellow and golden leaves of Euphrates Poplar Forests in Ejina Qi, here in Guaishulin, you will see a land of typical of  “a dead scene of a battlefield” – dead and fallen Euphrates Poplar Trees. The death of the poplar trees in the area is the result of the decrease of ground water on the arid desert.

After death, the dead poplar trees show great desire for life, some standing upright, some refusing to fall down, others lying on the ground without being rotten. The Euphrates Polar trees narrate a story of “greatness” in the face of the arid and hard land for centuries. Euphrates Poplar trees are said to “exist for three thousand years – live for one thousand years, dead for one thousand years and rotten for one thousand years”. Here you are able to feel the “Heroism” of the dead poplar trees.

You are required to pay a combined an entrance ticket for Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins. Basically you should take the shuttle bus from the entrance to Heicheng Ruins 15km away in the northeast. After visiting Heicheng Ruins, you again take the shuttle bus back and get off at the station of Guaishulin. You are supposed to walk through the east gate and end at the west gate which is linked to the main entrance.

You’d better off visiting Guaishulin in the later afternoon, so you are able to catch the magnificent view of the dark and dead scene under sunset. The sunset glow enlivens the dead scene.

Now follow me to have a glimpse of Guaishulin – the dead Euphrates Poplar Trees, 28km southwest of Eijina Qi, west of Inner Mongolia.

Camel ride on the desert of the dead Euphrates Poplar Trees

Camel ride on the desert of the dead Euphrates Poplar Trees

Camel ride on the desert of the dead Euphrates Poplar Trees

The dead poplar trees stand up right with tenacious vitality.

The dead poplar trees stand up right with tenacious vitality.

The dead poplar trees stand up right with tenacious vitality.

A zigzag boardwalk winds through the dead scene allowing visitors to have a close-up view of the trees with a good opportunity of photography.

A zigzag boardwalk winds through the dead scene

A zigzag boardwalk winds through the dead scene

A mecca for photographers

A mecca for photographers

A mecca for photographers

The dead Euphrates Poplar Trees are under the sunset glow.

The dead Euphrates Poplar Trees are under the sunset glow.

The dead Euphrates Poplar Trees are under the sunset glow.

 

 

Sunset over the dead scene of Euphrates Poplar Forest

Sunset over the dead scene of Euphrates Poplar Forest

Sunset over the dead scene of Euphrates Poplar Forest

 

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Heicheng Ruins
Euphrates Poplar Forest at Ejina Qi

Any questions, just drop a line.