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Home / Trip Diary / Gansu / Day 26 – Spectacular Switchbacks in Gansu

Day 26 – Spectacular Switchbacks in Gansu

August 13th; 6205-6477km; Xi’an to Rt. 211, Gansu

Tough City Driving

It was nice to have some time off but I was ready to get back on the road today. Too much stagnant city time for me!

Getting out of the city was awful. Traffic was dense and never-ending and the heat was really rough today (mid 30s). Took us a while to get out but it was a relief when we finally did.

Hello Twisties

Some of the cave dwellings carved into the sides of some of the cliff sides

Some of the cave dwellings carved into the sides of some of the cliff sides

The roads opened up a bit but they weren’t anything special the first half of the day and there were still quotes few trucks around. Then, a little before the Shaanxi-Gansu border, we turned off from G312 and onto S211 and the roads really became awesome.

The terrain we went through today seemed to be made up of lots of plateaus that the road would weave its way up and down. At the top of each where the steep inclines would flatten out, there would be small towns that we would pass through before weaving back down the other side. The area that S211 goes through seems to be quite old too. Along the sides of the plateaus and in some of the towns we’ve noticed what look to be old cave dwellings carved into the sides of mountains. Many of the homes in the villages too seem to be made out of clay or clay bricks and are styled in a somewhat similar fashion. The sides of the plateaus are so covered top to bottom in what look like what used to be rice terraces but they have all become overgrown from disuse.

Cliff-side Camping


We found a place to camp tonight on the side of one of these plateaus. A nice flat area that juts out of he side just on the side of the road in the middle of one switchback. Eve though its still within sight and sound of the road, the view is really spectacular and it looks like we might actually get our first night camping without rain!

About Buck

Buck, originally from New York, first came to China in 2006 traveling with some friends and immediately fell in love with the country, returning frequently including a semester studying at Tsinghua University in 2009. He finally moved to Beijing after graduating from the University of Toronto in 2010. He has a passion for adventure and travel, completing numerous long distance motorcycling and hiking trips around the U.S., Canada, and China including a circumnavigation of the U.S. (13,840km) and a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (3,500km). When he's not wandering (and sometimes when he is), Buck works as a web developer and marketing consultant in Beijing.