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Adventure in Lop Nur

 2014-02-06    Ada    Sights    Xinjiang    3028  

Legends and descriptions about ancient Loulan beauty and Loulan girls have linked Loulan with imaginations such as wonder land. If you are wondering the best place to appreciate Loulan beauty, Lop Nur will be a wonderful destination. Located in the northeast of Ruoqiang County, Lop Nur is about 780 meters (2,560 feet) above sea level and covers an area of about 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles). In Uygur, 'Lop' means a place having a vast expanse of water. In Mongolian, 'Nur' refers to a lake. 'Lop' and 'Nur' together means a vast lake. However, it dried up in 1972 because of excessive human economic activities in the area. Once it was the second largest inland lake in China and an important station on the Silk Road.
Loulan was an ancient kingdom based around an important oasis city already known in the 2nd century BCE on the north-eastern edge of the Lop Desert. It existed for only 400 years or so, disappearing in the 4th century. Its disappearance is still a riddle. The 'Loulan Beauty' (a female mummy), tombs and colorful coffins attract explorers, historians and visitors to the area.
In the broad sense, Lop Nur refers to the Lop Nur desert area which spans Xinjiang and Gansu Provinces. The Spectacle of the Gobi Desert and some historical sites are also scattered in this area, including the dragon-shaped Yadan Landscape, Rose-Willow Valley, the Peacock River, a dead forest of diversiform-leaved poplar (populus diversifolia), a Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) beacon tower, the Sun Tombs, the Milan Farm and the Loulan Ancient City.
Situated on the northern bank of the Peacock River, the Sun Tombs have a history of about 3,800 years. Around each tomb are seven circles formed by wooden spikes pointing toward the sun. The tombs are full of mystery. No one knows who were buried there and where they were from.
Sandstorms and high temperatures have changed Lop Nur into the 'Sea of Death'. In 1996, a famous traveler named Yu Chunshun died on his expedition there. 16 years ago, Peng Jiamu, a Chinese scientist, also lost his life there. Only a few desert plants and animals can live there, including rose-willows, camel thorns, diversiform-leaved poplars, wild camels, wolves, hares and dzerens (procapra gutturosa). Among the animals, the wild camels are the rare and endangered species. China's biggest natural reserve of the wild camels is located in southeast of Lop Nur.
However, mirages may be fatal for people who are going to walking across the vast desert. Mirages also add mystery to the Lop Nur. When the sun rises over the desolate desert, a mirage might appear just a few steps ahead of you: A pool of beautiful water surrounded by towering trees, or people moving about in a village. But when you head towards it, it may disappear mercilessly or simply stay always a few feet in front of you, luring you forward, until you have totally lost your way.
Lop Nur is the only gateway to the southern and middle routes of the ancient Silk Road. It is a paradise for visitors who love adventure. There they will have a mysterious and adventurous trip.

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