Neat Routes Bulldoze Through Entire Landscapes
The tour bus bore a suspicious waft of urine and flies buzzed near the windowpanes, barricaded by a transparent barrier. It stopped at four main viewpoints in a harrowing time sequence of 30-10-10-30 minutes, although visitors may choose to linger and board the next bus in 20 minutes. Neat routes bulldoze through entire landscapes, giving indication as to where one may or may not trespass.
Ruddy Streaks from the Jurassic and Tertiary Eras
Battered by erosion then jolted by thrusts from deep within the earth’s core, the landforms grew in character over millions of years. The ruddy streaks belong to the Jurassic and Tertiary eras and is typical of an arid environment. The blue hues have been layered with dust, blossoming only after bouts of rare rainfall to further enhance the already dramatic landscape.
Colourful Mountains of Mud Spread Out Like Dessert for the Eyes
The colourful mountains of mud spread out like dessert for the eyes; dark granite rocks with choppy, layered surfaces intertwine with earthen green gold stripes on red gold mud. The formations heave and fall, beautiful but barren. Careless bits of dark green shrubbery peppers indented surfaces, but apart from that, it feels as if the landform exists merely for its own pleasure.
Cracked Layers of Dried Mud
Layers of well blended colours run through the veins of the cracked, earthen landforms, which deceptively appear to be rock solid formations from afar. Hikers are now prohibited from treading upon the hills, in an attempt to preserve the relatively soft surfaces, which bear the risk of being ‘dented’ from the burden of footprints.
An Aerial Panorama Awaits at the Final Viewpoint
A comparatively longer flight of steps leads up to the fourth and final viewpoint, where you are rewarded with an aerial view of the whole area spread out for miles. A glider can be rented during the summer, when the colours are supposedly as splendid as the season. A four minute soar in the skies costs about USD35.
A Surreal, Lunar Landscape
The rocky alien landscape was nothing short of surreal. Silence surrounded me, and I observed no life forms save for the occasional grey and white striped beetle ambling along. According to the guide, the only other wildlife to be found here are snakes, which blend into the earthen landscape seamlessly.
A Geological Work of Art
Moulded and battered both by Mother Nature herself, the Zhangye danxia landform is an ongoing work of geological art that took millions of years to become what it is today. The derelict stone teahouse in the corner is a recent relic from Zhang Yimou’s international film “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop” (三枪拍案惊奇).
View From the Top at Dusk
The melancholic glow of dusk settles slowly upon the land. Tourists walk up short, well chiselled steps of a colour theme matchings its surroundings, to seal their final memories from a higher vantage point.