This group of photos was taken at Ejina Qi's Heicheng and Guaishu Forest. Ejina, located at Inner Mongolia's Allashan County, near Mongolia, is an oasis surrounded by vast desert.
Known for the Gujuyan civilization and the Huyang Forest, this famous scenic spot includes: the Huyang Forest along the road from the first to the eighth bridge (the Huyang Forest Festival is held every year on Oct. 9 and is the best time to view the forest);
Heicheng, Guaishu Forest, Juyan Lake, and Tian'e Lake. There are usually three ways to get there: First, from Jiuquan city in Gansu, take the long-distance coach to Ejina Qi (a distance of 400 km), departing at 7:30 a.m. with a ticket price of RMB50.
HK/Macau and foreign travelers are not allowed on this line. Because it passes through a satellite-launching base, the use of photographic equipment along the way is prohibited. There are three checkpoints.
The second route is from Linhe city in Inner Mongolia, on the long-distance coach to Ejina Qi. However, this bus runs only every third or seventh day, starting at 7 a.m.. The last line sets off from Yinchuan (in Ningxia) to Allashan Zuoqi in Inner Mongolia (long-distance buses run back and forth every 30 minutes for RMB16 per trip).
From there, a coach departs at 7 each morning (RMB79.5 for a distance of 700 km, passing through the Wuliji Border-Defense Station). All three lines have military checkpoints midway through the journey checking ID, but it is not necessary to procure a border-crossing certificate.
It's best to book tickets at least one day in advance; during holiday periods, even though the number of buses is increased, seats still might not be available.
Travelers should take the following precautions: night and daytime temperatures vary greatly, so bring both heavy and light clothing; due to the region's remoteness, daily merchandise is quite expensive—bottled water, for instance, can be double the usual price—so bring plenty if going by private car. Lastly, travelers should be prepared for a windy, dry climate.
This text by Wu Jian was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 6 ("consumerism"). Translated from Chinese. Photos by Leo Chen.