Desert delight

By Hou Qi (
Updated: 2010-09-02 17:27
Large Medium Small
Desert delight
The desert landscape of Xiangshawan is unbelievably beautiful.Photo
by Hou Qi
Desert delight
Camels lie down for relaxation. Photo by Hou Qi
Inner Mongolia enjoys renowned reputation for its lush and vast prairies, while desert landscape is another highlight, Hou Qi reports.

Located north of Ordos, the most developed city in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xiangshawan (Resonant Sand Bay) Desert appeals to thousands of visitors for its stunning beauty and mysterious sounds. Sliding down from the 90-meter, 45-degree sand hill, one can supposedly hear the sound of car and aircraft engines, a natural and as yet unexplained phenomenon that fuels my expectation for the desert adventure.

It was my first time in the desert, which would become my permanent memory. Sitting inside the cable car and gazing out at the desert in the distance, I knew a fantastic journey was just beginning. The sun’s late-afternoon glare was still very strong due to the relatively high altitude, and each of us was equipped with sunproof items, such as sunglasses, hats and sunscreen.

Getting off the cable car, we all needed to wear a special pair of socks to get through the all-pervasive sand. With all the preparations made, camels in lines welcomed us, which were much bigger than my previous impression. Receiving the order from a guide, a line of camels all sat down, so gently and obediently. However, camels could also reveal their evil when they’re in a bad mood. I overheard a guide warning the visitors to keep away from the camels to avoid being kicked. Thus I carefully climbed onto its back for fear that my little “rudeness” would stir up its choleric nature.

Desert delight
The camel trek tour is a must for visitors. Photo by Hou Qi

With a guide in the lead, our camel line moved toward the beauty of the desert. Holding tight to the bridle, I took in a panoramic view of the out-of-this-world marvel. Breathtaking as it is, the extreme wilderness only makes it otherworldly and overwhelmingly beautiful. The undulating dune sketches out fine lines, making the image illustrate the vivid gradations. The chemistry between sunlight and shadow extended the visual field, impressing visitors with its boundlessness. Wows from the tourists came out in succession and photo shooting was in full swing.

The guide’s walking barefoot on the sand, which must be unbearably hot after longtime exposure to the sun, piqued my curiosity. He answered my query in an easy tone, “I get used to the sand temperature, it’s not as hot as you assume. I think it’s great to get the real touch of nature, and walking on it is good for health.” His suntanned skin and guileless smile epitomizes the very image of the warm-hearted Mongolian.

At the end of the camel tour, I motioned over my shoulder toward the desert silhouette to bid my farewell to the natural wonder. Then the trip reached the climax, when it came to sand sliding, which ended with ecstasy as well as regret. As instructed by the guide, I sat on a wooden boat, put my hands back and inserted them into the sand to control the sliding speed. Taking a deep breath, I released the hand control and a thrill–packed venture started. The 30-second experience was a once-in-a-lifetime luxury, too short to enjoy myself to my heart’s content yet too impressive to fall into oblivion.

It was too late when I realized the sheer ignorance of the magic sand singing. My complete concentration on the speed control resulted in my frustrated regret. Several companions were much luckier; they heard the buzz-like sound, describing it as incredibly melodious. Any splendid imagination would be overshadowed by its vividness, which deserves discovery.

The red light of the setting sun suffused the sands; the air was filled with something that could be called freshness. This moment’s tranquility would never survive in the bustling metropolis, so precious to the stressed out modern people. As all the simplicity recedes from adult life, the transient natural beauty reminded us to slow down.

The exhaust-and-excitement-fumed tour generated extraordinary brushes with nature. The deep desolation of desert was greatly helpful in purifying the dust-stained heart.