Tashi Travel Guide

  • Site of Guazhou City, looking NW
    Site of Guazhou City, looking NW
    by mke1963
  • The inner city wall (from outside)
    The inner city wall (from outside)
    by mke1963
  • Looking east along the inner city wall from NW
    Looking east along the inner city wall...
    by mke1963

Tashi Things to Do

  • East Thousand Buddha Caves (Dong...

    I wasn't able to visit the caves here as out meetings went on for so long at Suoyang Fortress, but they are about 22km south-east of Suoyang Fortress (and are managed by the same people). On the way there, it is possible to visit the remains of the Taer Ta Si tower and temple. The Suoyangmu tomb field lies to the north of the first few kilometres...

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  • Other Relics

    There are almost countless old fortresses in the area north and north-east of old Anxi, most of which have never seen a single tourist, except perhaps for Marc Aurel Stein, 99 years ago. There is a map of the relics in the area on the wall of the Suoyang Fortress Visitor Centre.

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  • Suoyangmu

    From 1st May 2006, the Suoyang Mu (Tombs) have been given state-level protection. This tomb field lies to the north-east of the Suoyang Fortress and stretch for tens of kilometres northwards, to the east of Qiaozicun and beyond. The tombs date from the Han through to the Tang Dynasties and are cleimed to be more significant than the Wei and Jin...

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  • Yulin Grottos

    [NV]The Yulinku lie about 25km south of the township of Tashi (also known as Suoyangxiang). I haven't been there yet, but they lie in two clusters alongside a river valley and are recommended by many visitors for feeling a bit more authemtic than the mad-house crush at Mogaoku in Dunhuang. These grottos are managed by the Dunhuang Research Academy.

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  • Pochengzi

    En-route to Suoyang lies the ruined fortress of Pochengzi, in the vilage of the same name. Little is known about this ~45,000 sqyare metre rectangular fortress but it is even better condition than Suoyang/Guazhou. The structure lies right next to the road, on the left hand side. Beyond the eastern wall is a river bed and the rest of the village....

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  • Suoyang/Guazhou City

    The fortress itself is the furthest structure, and is divided into two parts by a curtain wall. Outside and to the north is the huge expanse of the Tang Dynasty Guazhou city, while to the immediate east of the fortress/inner city is the horse-breeding enclosure. Horses were critical to the development of Chinese military strength in the Hexi...

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Tashi Restaurants

  • by mke1963 Written Jun 13, 2006

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    In the next courtyard to the Daodelou, is a small restaurant in a non-descript house. Just go straight ahead where the road turns 90 degrees to the north. The food is simple but very good. The toilets, however, are dire (and that is saying something in China!) My colleague, a veteran steely-eyed desert traveller refused to use it.

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Tashi Transportation

  • by mke1963 Written Jun 13, 2006

    The ruined city lies 50km south of modern-day Anxi, on the southern edge of the oasis, 6km south of the village of Qiaozicun. If driving from Dunhuang, turn right where the modern road (#313) turns sharply left and enters the oasis just 10km before Anxi. The road heads through some low hills and comes out onto a plain, crossing a very wide rivercourse on an embankment several kilometres long. Although the road is asphalted, the embankment has been washed away at several points and it can get bumpy and sandy. The old fortress of Pochengzi (not to be confused with the fortress of the same name in Inner Mongolia to the north of Jiuquan) is passed (see separate review) and the road winds in and out of the oasis until the small town of Tashi is reached. This place is also known as Suoyangxiang (as it is the main administrative township in the area), and the road to old Anxi is left at the roundabout. You can't miss the roundabout (trust me on this!), while straight ahead is the route on to the Yulin Grottos. (not visited yet because I never have the time when I am here, sadly). A few kilometres further on, the road comes to a T-junction where you will see either a building site or a brand new museum looming out of the gravel plains. The village of Qiaozicun is left, and the entrance to Suoyang is right about 1.5km up the road.
    It is possible to continue on to Yumen Shi and Jiayuguan from here but it is an arduous 4 hour drive (summer 2006) because access to the #312 highway is very difficult, so it is necessary to follow a gravel track alongside a major irrigation channel the whole way to Yumen Shi. I have the GPS coordinates for this route if you need them....and I would highly recommend using a GPS unit for this route because it involves travelling three sides around a huge rectangle to get onto the right road.

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Tashi Shopping

  • by mke1963 Written Jun 13, 2006

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    The cynomorium plant, that gave Suoyang its name (see separate Local Custom tip) can be bought from local villagers in this area and also from the visitor centre at Suoyang Fortress. Its more expensive at the visitor centre but the funds raised help to protect local heritage.

    What to pay: Around RMB125 to 150 for a largte piece.

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Tashi Local Customs

  • by mke1963 Written Jun 13, 2006

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    The cynomorium plant that gives Suoyang its name is still found on the site although in less quantities than in the old days. The guides know where to find them, growing on the roots of certain hongliu and other shrubs. Deep holes in the sand show where they have been dug up by villagers or staff. The tiny visitor centre at Suoyang sells the suoyang for about RMB150 per piece. The management office makes four times as much per year from selling the suoyang than it earns from ticket sales!

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Tashi Warnings and Dangers

  • by mke1963 Written Jun 13, 2006

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    Suoyang has a serious insect problem unfortunately, which is taxing the minds of local tourism and EPB staff who would like to find an environmentally-friendly solution. The chaobing fly - and there are swarms of them - mean that you have to keep walking or moving at Suoyang. Their bite is particularly unpleasant, and leaves something inside your skin. This can cause secondary infections, so if ou are bitten do use antiseptic cream as well as anti-histamines.
    The flies are less obvious in the early morning and most active when it is hot. it takes about 2 hours to get from Dunhuang to Anxi, so a 6.30 start from Dunhuang is advisable to see as much of Suoyang before the flies come out en masse. Don't let the flies put you off going there though: we were at the site from 8.30 until 2.30 in the afternoon and didn't get bitten by a chaobing all that time, although we did suffer a few bites from mosquitos and other flies. It is important to wear long trousers and long sleeves though! We also used plenty of insect repellant as well!

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Tashi Off The Beaten Path

  • by mke1963 Written Jun 13, 2006

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    The village of Qiaozi is a quiet place with many old buildings and farmhouses, but it is best known for its charming Qing era wooden tower, the Daodelou, used for ceremonial events in the old days. Now it slumbers alongside aome old poplars in a courtyard at the centre of the village. It is managed by the Suoyang Fortress Management Office if you want more information, but it is not open to the public.

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