Surrounded all sides by snow-capped mountains and endless desert, the Hexi Corridor is a pretty unforgiving place if you happen to stray off the main path.
This was the main artery between China and Central Asia, and still the route of the main train line out to the Western provinces. It also partly explains Gansu province’s ridicuous shape, although how anybody could possibly approve this kind of geographic administrative nonsense is quite beyond me.
Although it appears to have grabbed more headlines in recent years as being the jumping off point for China’s space programme, this valley hosts a string of fertile oasis towns which gave rise to bumper crops of precious rhubarb, which is indigenous to the region.
Of these towns, Jiuquan is our very own ground zero on the Rhubarb Rhoute. People, this is where it all began.