Today was a quiet day as we await the Chinese New Year to come. Turns out the fireworks are not till tomorrow night. The city is a weird mix of bustling and empty as seemingly every place is closed in the walking district, yet the streets are packed with people. Some random fireworks have gone off, a prelude of what is just around the corner.
One thing I have always found enjoyable about different cultures is learning of the unknown assumptions I have always had. For example, I assumed that the day recognized as the start of spring was the same everywhere. In America, it is based off the solstice, after all. While in Russia, I learned that their spring actually starts March 1st, and now I have learned that here in China the Spring Festival, also called Chinese New Year, begins with the new moon of the first lunar month and ends 15 days later with the first full moon! Another fun fact is that this final day of the festival is marked by another festival called Lantern Festival, which brings closure to the Spring festivities.
Another revelation to me has been how ecosystems are differentiated here. In America we consider a desert to basically be any place that receives less water than a certain threshold. By this definition, we have talked a lot about our crossings of the Gobi Desert. Since being in this region we have been regularly corrected that the Gobi is not a desert. In China, only sand dunes constitute deserts. Last night we found out that to the Chinese the Gobi is not a place but a type of environment-- gē bì. It is a dry rocky environment with little plant growth. One of the few places this environment occurs in China is the area I have always known to be the Gobi Desert. In the end, all classification comes down to lumpers and splitters. In China they split their arid landscapes into different classifications, in America we lump them together.
Distance: 0 km
Total Distance: 1708 km
End: Dunhuang - Hotel
Written by Timb