Hukou Falls and Mian Shan, Shaanxi, China Week 14 27th - 29th July 2011
We left the campsite at Dang Jai Cun bathed in more sunshine.
A Pleasant drive out, though the trees got a bit close at times.
We met our first real heavy industrial area on the banks of the Yellow River..

After passing a few (literally) power stations we passed an iron and steel works.

The smoke is from charging coke ovens.

Too far away to see if they were being charged by hand or car. Cars with fume reduction have been available for many years.

The apparent lack of a coal bunker above the coke ovens suggests hand charging. Sooner them than me as the saying goes.

The plan was to follow the National Highway alongside the Yellow River to Hukou Falls.

Unfortunately the road had other plans for us.

2.2m is lower than the container we shipped Tardis in.

As we climbed the hill on another minor mountain road which asking directions and following Garmin assured us there was a way round (about 250km) we had a better view of part of the industrial area.

The two blast furnaces were clearly visible to us.

And on the other side of the hill was a coal mine.

We have been on the Loess Plateau for some days now.

The landscape has become distinctly Loess.

Its another landscape I haven't seen previously.

Loess is wind (aeolian) born sediment. Its very fine.

The map gives the extent of the Loess Plateau in China.

The sediment came from the Gobi Desert. Most of it between 1.5 and 3 million years ago. Some of it as long ago as 22 million years.

In places the loess is 300m thick.

The road is reasonably smooth. Just lots of corners slowing us down.

Not so for those driving up the hill from the coal mine.

Deep ruts. And of course the inconsiderate coal trucks are a different width to cars which thus tend to drive on the wrong side of the road.

I was a bit naive and thought it was just the trucks that were overloaded. But now I know the roads are overloaded also.

People of the Loess Plateau have not developed sustainable agricultural practices in the same way the Hani have with their rice terraces.

About 16 million tonnes of loess is lost down the Yellow River every year through erosion.

Efforts have been made since the mid 90's to revegetate the terraces. 

Not much agriculture here. Not many trees either.
The loess is fairly soft so building tunnel houses is relatively easy.

These are fairly old. There are more modern looking ones with a more substantial front.

Shortly before we took a side road and encountered this chicane Susanna had announced "I think you ought to know that we aren't really that lost yet".

The chicane was designed to keep long wide trucks off the road.

We drove through fairly easily.

Loess as far as the eye could see.

Strangely no agriculture.

I'm colour blind.

Either that or the Yellow River is Orange.

Or the colour has been mistranslated.

This is just a small stream away from the main Hukou falls.

The ticket only allows for one entry. We figured that since the sunset was good the sunrise would be even better.

But we watched the sun go off the hills.
We shared our car park campsite with a construction crew.

They had a convertible solar powered three wheeled winged truck.

Actually the solar panel was attached to a street light.

The lights were all around the car park, even though it was closed at night.


Each light had a loudspeaker attached.

For no apparent reason at about 7pm the previously silent loudspeakers burst into life.

The programme began with some current popular music, followed by a safety announcement for those in the car park (us and the construction team). All at 100dB (very loud).

For a while we wondered if the Chinese had found the answer to unwanted free campers. I had a pair of wire cutters ready.

Fortunately it stopped as suddenly as it had started, mid sentence. 

Hukou Falls has cut through the mudstone and sandstone in the bottom of the valley.

Upstream the Yellow River looks like a normal braided river in a wide river valley.

Downstream there is a60m deep 5km long gorge cut deeper into the valley floor. 

Its the most sediment bound river on the planet.

Loess really is fine.

The gorge downstream.

And that little stream we photographed the night before.

Quite a different colour in the watery sunrise.
We decided to drive on to Mian Sha.

A slight diversion from the itinerary. We have a few spare days and also feel we have been traveling a bit fast.

We've been feeling a bit tired and I came down with a cold - just a runny nose that turned into a cough.

Independent travel can be tiring at the best of times. Best to rest.

This is the sight of sand miners (no, not another Star Wars reference) from the bridge downstream of the falls.

The small barges have a pipe to shore. Pump out of the river onto the piles of sand and the sediment builds up.

The road sign says "Stuffed Road Section". One of those literal translations that we failed to discover the real meaning of.
The bridge is being built both ways from each of the pillars.

It looked like it all lined up but one can never tell ....


The sides of the roads have deep, vertical, culverts for which I've developed a healthy respect.

Not sure how he managed to get all the wheels off though.

Mian Sha is "not as famous" as Hua Sha.

And it isn't in our copy of Lonely Planet.

After a few km of hairpin bends, narrow road, and descending buses we passed the ticket office and headed along the side of the mountain.

There was a sign to guide us.

Just as well as the road was a bit precarious looking.

Driving a reasonably high right hand drive vehicle on the right side of the road meant I had a more than occasional view of a vertical drop.

I don't enjoy heights and this road made me somewhat uncomfortable.

The mist didn't help.
At first I thought we would go through one of those half tunnel things.

No, the road is on top.

Its also been widened at some time so I wasn't sure what was underneath us and what load it was designed to support.

Mostly cars.

But wait, there's more.

It looked like a couple of thousand feet straight down on the right.

To be honest though. Shortly after this we met a large bus coming the other way. We relaxed a bit.

There's a large car park and hotel at the end. We stopped for the night.

On the 29th we have spent all day inside the Tardis. Water tanks are full after all day rain. Internet says sunshine tomorrow.


I know I said we needed a rest .... but!


Mian Shan and Zhang Bi, Shanxi, China Week 14 30th July 2011

Eric Chen Sat, 30 Jul 11 11:06:30 +1000
G'day, mate,
I'm a frend of Fred Howie, he told me your guys is travlling through my home country, and told me to read your blog, It's so interesting,hope you have a good time in China.

Julian Sun, 31 Jul 11 14:05:23 +1000
thanks Eric. Every day is something new. Regards to Fred (the bits Fred made for the truck are all holding together).

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