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Leaving Dunhuang, we follow the Silk road route by bus into the trackless wastes of the Gobi desert. Even though were at least 3000 km from the Great Wall's endpoint at Beijing, we meet the beginning and Western most section of the Wall. Along the way we pass Chinese chain gangs; prisoners brought out here to plant trees and work on the road. They can't runaway in the middle of the Gobi desert.
(Above)Jill prepares her attack on the Westernmost section of the Great Wall (Below)Naturally, I'm there to defend, but she's completely safe because my archery skills stink (I couldn't hit any of the stuffed, scarecrow-like targets planted in front of the Wall for tourists to shoot at).
(Below) This beacon tower, built 2000 years ago during the Han dynasty, was the first old relic we saw as we entered the Gobi desert. It's called a beacon tower because soldiers lit fires on top to warn the surrounding countryside of an impending attack. A line of these towers carried the message for many miles (the towers are built every 50-100 kilometers). Old monuments such as these are out here unattended, so anyone can walk up and view them closely. Unfortunately, I've been having a serious stomach problem, so I ended up going to the bathroom in a ditch by the tower. At least in the desert there is little chance of someone walking up on you.