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Yumen Pass protector serves with pride

By Sun Yuanqing ( chinadaily.com.cn ) Updated: 2014-06-20 09:59:47

Yumen Pass protector serves with pride

He Guowu, head of the management office of the Yumen Pass.

Yumen Pass protector serves with pride

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The first thing He Guowu looks for when he is back in Dunhuang city in Gansu province is latiaozi (pulled noodles), a local staple that is hard to find at his post in the Yumen Pass.

He is not lucky today. It is 2:30 pm when he arrives and most restaurants are closing. He stops at three restaurants, gets three "nos" and finally settles in a Sichuan restaurant.

Yumen Pass protector serves with pride

Having worked for 10 years as the head of the management office of the Yumen Pass, about two hours' drive from his home in Dunhuang, He, 58, is the longest-serving guardian on the site.

And for the first time in history, the relics at the Yumen Pass are get-ting a day-to-day inspection.

Over the last decade, He has been joined by a dozen more people, who come to clean, record the monitoring statistics and look after the souvenir shop, all of which are part of China's joint bid with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan for UNESCO's World Heritage status for sites on the Silk Road.

"I hope this place will last longer so that future generations will be able to see them," says He, back at the site.

He walks around Yumen Pass with a slight stoop from the backache made worse by the alkaline water of the area. Every day he drives three hours to the various sites of the Yumen Pass to check if everything is in order.

He started to learn to drive at the age of 50 after he was posted at the pass by the bureau of cultural relics. On rainy days, the sandy road becomes so muddy that he often gets bogged. He leaves a shovel in the back of the vehicle just in case. As the site is open to tourists all day, he usually retires after 10 pm, when the last of the visitors leave. The only entertainment in the management station is a television.

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