• About Julie

    NJ native without the accent or the big hair. Currently residing in Beijing. Teaching English. Absorbing all things China. Exploring SE Asia.

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Orange sky blankets Beijing

I really enjoyed seeing the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia back in 2008.  Inner Mongolia is a province of China, not a part of the country of Mongolia, and it’s home to grasslands and lots of sand.  I had no idea that those kind of sand dunes existed outside northern Africa or the Middle East, let alone within a day’s bus ride from Beijing.  I got to do some fun things on that trip, like sleep in a yurt, go horseback riding and four-wheeling, and roll around the desert inside a giant inflated ball.  I steered clear of the camels but some of my friends went for a ride.

11 of us on the trip

The Chinese flag flies high over the Gobi

Rolling around in the sand

Pretty cool, right?  I didn’t think I’d be seeing the desert again, but I woke up this morning to an unearthly orange glow streaming through the gap in my curtains.  Hello, desert?  Sandstorm!

A sandstorm outside my window, 2008

Beijing workers clean up after a sandstorm

I haven’t been outside today and I don’t plan on it, but Anna went out and said that the soccer field on our campus is brown and there is sand blowing around the lobby in our building on the main floor of our building.  Today’s air quality is ranked the worst at “hazardous.”

Spring in China brings sandstorms.  Roughly 1/3 of the country is classified as desert because of overgrazing, urban sprawl, deforestation, and drought.  After the revolution and the founding of “New China” in 1949 there were campaigns in the 50’s and 60’s to raise farm and factory output.  The result?  Soil was stripped of vegetation, and the country is still struggling to contain its expanding deserts.  The dust storms weren’t bad last spring, but I remember the sand in 2008 being worse than today’s storm, which is expected to spread to Korea.  Desert sand often spreads across China to Korea, Japan, and even to the western US.

China Daily: Severe sandstorm blasts Beijing

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One Response

  1. […] Posted on March 27, 2010 by Julie We had another sandstorm on Monday, and this one was the worst I’ve seen since moving to Beijing in 2007.  […]

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