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Detailed Itinerary



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JE 2008

China time and date:


Anyone for Desert?

Good morning everyone!

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This is the last Friday of the Journey. Can you believe it? Where did the time go?

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Let’s reach into our bag of tricks and see what’s in store for today . . . we have a GOB(I) of photos (Ba-dum-bump), a report from August Massingill, and a bunch of info on the Gobi Desert and camels. Before we jump head over heals into the photos, here’s some nifty info tn_newpaper 019on the Gobi Desert:

BUT FIRST, the JE gang is “in the news!” That’s’ right, they have made the front page of the newspaper in China. They are all the rage! Now how cool is that?

You might to find a translator to read the article, but the pictures definitely “tell the story!”

Now, let’s take a look at the photos taken on the way to the desert:


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Once at the desert, the gang spent the day playing in what essentially is a huge sandbox. This sandbox is more commonly known as the Gobi Desert!

tn_Desert plus 266The Gobi Desert is one of those memorable, awe-inspiring experiences that is never forgotten. The history and “hugeness” can, if you allow it, be overwhelming. The group arrived in China more than three weeks ago and spent a day in Shanghai, the largest city in China (and one of the largest in the world!), filled with buildings, people, and everything imaginable. Now, in contrast, they spend a day in a place where there is nothing (nothing!), but sand -- for as far as the eye can see!

I am guessing none of you have taken the time to study on your own (come on people!), so here is a summary (your cheat sheet) of the Gobi so you will better appreciate the photos you will to see (you will see them, I promise!):

  • The Gobi is 500,000 sq mi (1,295,000 sq km), extending 1,000 mi (1,610 km) from east to west across SE Mongolia and N China.
  • It is one of the world's largest deserts.
  • The Gobi consists of a series of shallow alkaline basins; the western portion of the desert is entirely sandy.
  • The Kerulen River is the Gobi's largest permanent stream; intermittent streams flow into small salt lakes or disappear into the sand.
  • Nearly all the region's soil has been removed by the prevailing northwesterly winds.
  • fierce sand and wind storms are common.
  • The Gobi has cold winters and short, hot summers.
  • Precipitation is in the form of widely spaced cloudbursts.
  • The Gobi's grassy fringe supports a small population of nomadic Mongolian tribes engaged in sheepherding and goatherding.
  • The Gobi is crossed by a highway and by the Trans-Mongolian RR, which links Ulaanbaatar with Jining, China.
  • The railway shortens the Moscow-Beijing run by 700 mi (1,130 km).
  • Coal is mined at Tawan-Tolgoi, Mongolia; oil fields are located at Saynshand, Mongolia, and Yumen, China; and there are copper and other mineral deposits.
  • Many paleontological finds, including early mammals and dinosaur eggs, have been made in the Gobi. Prehistoric stone implements, some 100,000 years old, have also been excavated.
  • (Reference:
  • Check out the Gobi Desert in Google Earth (you must have Google earth installed on your computer):

Whew! Didn’t know there was so much to learn on this journey, did you? 500,000 square miles -- amazing!

I can’t wait anymore -- let’s see what this place is all about!

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Now let’s get August’s take on this incredible journey within the journey. Hey August, whaddya think?

August Massingill Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia 4/17/08

The phone rings at 6 in the morning as our entire group awakes with moans. We all are quite tired today but there is an aura of anticipation hovering over our exhaustion, for today is the day we will visit the Gobi Desert. All that stands between us and the Gobi is a 3 hour bus ride...

The bus ride had to have been condemned by God himself (like our plane ride to Shanghai) for no one could sleep or be comforted from the mixture of excitement, the turbulent ride, the insistent sun making our bus an oven, or the interesting landscape which included coal factories, farms, and the Yellow River which showed the intense erosion in the area. Anyhow, we arrived at the Gobi stricken in awe at how vast and glorious it was and also the surprisingly cool temperature.

tn_Desert plus 126We took a chair lift across a ravine into the desert. The sky was a perfect blue and as far as the eye could see was a majestic ocean of refined, smooth sand. From the chair lift, we ran over to the camels and in high spirits, paid our fee and boarded our camel. After an admiration of my camel, we started a trip that would take an hour and give us spectacular views. About 5 minutes into the ride, I felt as if I was being beaten constantly with a metal baseball batn_Desert plus 172t and thought I might go into complete shock from the pain. Ten minutes later, everything was numb, so I could once again enjoy the sights of my adorable camel and the Gobi. After the ride, we took some time alone to understand how vast everything was and how microscopic we really are.

After the Gobi, you realize how many places on your body you HATE TO HAVE SAND! GROWL!!

We ate dinner at this strange forest-like restaurant that reminded me of a Rain Forest cafe. The food was exceptionally good (very fresh!) but the food wasn’t the only key focus in the restaurant . The place had monkeys, giant frogs, pigs (so cute!) rabbits, and . . . ready for this?!? SEALS!! They were so fat and cute. They reminded me of my pet pit bull, in how their heads looked and in how fat they were! =D

I really enjoyed the day today and can safely say everyone else did too. With how tubular everything in the past few days has been, I hope the experiences only get better.

Man, that sounds rough! Did you know . . . one hump camels are primarily found in Arabia (check out Lawrence of Arabia!) and the two hump camels are Asian camels?

Bactrian Camels (Asian, Two-Humped Camel):

Length: 7 to 11 feet
Height: 6 to 8 feet
Weight: 1000 to 1500 pounds
Number of young: 1
Home: Mongolia

The number of young is an interesting statistic. By the way, I know everyone thinks this, but contrary to popular legend, there is no evidence that camels store water in the stomach (or in the hump). Although they are adapted for conservation of water, they will lose weight and strength if they go for long periods without drinking. (Nowak 1999) (

Hey folks! We are dedicated to giving you your money’s worth here. Stick around, you might learn something (You’ll need it -- remember the quiz!).

We’ve still got a lot of this journey jam-packed into the next few days. There are still many activities on tap for Hohhot, including the final performances and the farewell banquet.

And we are still on the edge of our seats wondering if will there be an attempt on the dumpling eating record! Stay tuned!

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin . . .

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