i'd never heard of the Alxa League prefecture of Inner Mongolia until I got there.
After driving due west for two straight days from beijing we arrived at a bizarre vegas-like architectural structure that marked the edge of the inner mongolian badajilin desert. Our friend, Wu Er Shan, was scouting locations for a film and going to visit his cousins who are herdsmen in badanjilin. wangwei and i tagged along with the production crew for 12 days, riding camels, battling mosquitoes, weathering sandstorms, eating many a lamb, and drinking quite enough baijiu.
After the first day i realized a few things:
1. i have no knowledge as to how to survive in the desert
2. city people are wimps
3. camels are cool
we camped out for 3 days, rode camels through spectacular scenery and arrived in Miao Hai, where Wu Er Shan's cousins have a home and where his uncle has started to refurbish a 300+ year old temple that was destroyed during the cultural revolution. As we trodded up over the sand dunes the lake was an amazing oasis. after 3 days in the desert, the eyes adjust to see only the color of sand and sky; the white walls of the modest temple were shock.