(14-16th June) Along the upper reaches of the Yellow River lie a key thoroughfare for ancient traders and explorers, from China to Persia, from Middle East to Europe. Covering an area of 14,620 square kilometers along the Yellow River, it is strategically located at the southern end of the route leading through the Hexi Corridor across Central Asia. This is where Qilian Mountain ranges extend southwards, where it paves a crucial gateway to Xian, the ancient capital. This place, endowed by the natural protection of such unique environment, is Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu Province.
When General Zhang Qian first passed through chains of treacherous hills and boundless sand dunes to the Western Regions in Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 BC), in his deep heart soared a sole goal. However strenuous to achieve the Emperor’s mission, however long he was enslaved by Xiongnu tribe, nothing could dampen him to continue his journey for thousand miles, to ensure alliance against Xiongnu. Following his diplomatic envoys along the route, commercial relations between China and Central Asia, and hence a transcontinental network, known as Silk Road, blossomed at the end of the 2nd century BC.
Since the heydays of Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), time often elapsed with throngs of horse caravans wading through the endlessly steep road. Across undulating hill chains and meandering rivers of the mountain Range, women of Bulang ethnic group were picking pu’er tea leaves, a distinct form of broad leaf tea in Yunnan, in a verdant agro-forest. Besides the four-foot-wide cobblestone paths, scraggy porters were carrying backbreaking loads of freshly-made tea along this legendary trail, a harsh 2,250km trail stretching from the hillside plantation of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan to Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa, and from there to Southeast Asia, before reaching to Indian subcontinent.