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Date: Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 15:31

Back in 2012 we visited the Gobi Desert, but there are four smaller deserts to the south and west of it which are also well worth exploring. Travelling east to west, we begin with the Tengger Desert.

As with the Gobi, these surrounding deserts all have areas of stunning natural landscapes, interspersed with significant human developments. Patches of high-resolution imagery allow us to see areas of sand dunes and small lakes in great detail.

One of the larger bodies of water – Moon Lake – even has a luxury resort hotel for those wanting to explore the desert in comfort. Accommodation options include round Mongolian yurts.

Desert lakes are often very rich in minerals. I think this one is used as a salt farm.

To the north-west is the Badain Jaran desert.

desert

Badain Jaran has some of the most beautiful dune patterns that I’ve ever found while writing about deserts. It is home to the world’s tallest standing dunes, up to 500m (1600′). These are sand dunes which stay in place despite strong winds, held static by underground water sources.

Some of them are also ‘booming’ (or ‘singing’) dunes – where the movement of loose surface sand over compacted internal sand creates unusual sounds. Sliding down downs is a good way to get the sounds going. I wasn’t able to find video of Badain Jaran (which doesn’t get many tourists) but there are plenty of examples from other deserts, such as this YouTube video.

The southern part of Badain Jaran has more than a hundred very small lakes, with mineralisation clearly visible in many of them.

lake

And there are several salt farms in the region.

The local authorities are hoping to expand desert tourism, so have constructed a slightly bizarre ‘geopark‘ along one of the roads that leads into the dunes. Information about it is hard to come by online, though the various buildings include a hotel and museum with interpretive displays about the desert’s geology. (Images of some buildings can be found on Panoramio.)

The desert is exploited much more harshly just to the north-west where an oilfield appears to be polluting a large area.

Continuing west, the Kumtag, Taklamakan and Lop Deserts all merge together in an arc in China’s most north-westerly region, which was part of the Silk Road.1

deserts

One of the biggest developments in the Kumtag is the Gansu Wind Farm – a series of power generation facilities consisting of hundreds of wind turbines. There appear to be three separate locations on the current satellite images – from a distance they appear to be just grids of roads, but zooming in reveals networks of turbines.

turbines

We can also see a large number of solar power panels in the same area. In a desert region, wind and solar must be excellent methods of generating power for China’s huge population.

solar

One of the most photographed locations in this region is the Crescent Lake oasis. Its natural beauty is threatened as the lake level has dropped significantly in recent years.

There are a number of significant sights near Jiayuguan City, including the westernmost segment of the Great Wall of China, and a well-preserved fort.

There is also a 1-km tall Chinese character – the word ‘dragon’…

… and numerous unexplained strange markings in the earth.

markings markings2

There are a couple of dams in the area …

dam

… and several salt/mineral farms, including this vividly-hued site.

hue

The military presence here is not as heavy as the Gobi desert, but there are still some facilities, including one in the Taklamakan Desert which is surrounded by a large trench and mounds of earth, with a fence running parallel a few hundred meters away.

There are numerous destroyed buildings, this strange configuration of structures (mock planes in storage?) and an antenna array.

Finally, there are also ancient relics in the Taklamakan desert. The Tarim mummies (Wikipedia) were found in various locations and date back between 2,000 and 4,000 years. In one particular location, a number of tombs have been revealed in the desert sands, though their contents have long since been removed to museums.

tombs


  1. Because they are linked, it’s sometimes not obvious which landmarks are in which desert if no clear information is available, so I’ve tried to indicate as best I can. 

Locations: China / Categories: Buildings, Deserts, Large Type, Natural Landmarks, Shadows, Structures

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Date: Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 13:00

Today is National Chess Day in the USA, an event based on a proclamation by President Gerald Ford in 1976. (Though it’s usually celebrated on the closest Saturday when people have more time to play!) Doubtless there will be much celebrating at the World Chess Hall of Fame, in St Louis, MO. It has a giant chess piece and smaller-but-still-larger-than-normal full board right outside its front door, and many exhibits about the game.

Chess

Locations: Missouri / Categories: On this day, Street Views

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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 13:00

On October 8, 1835, Charles Darwin‘s ship The Beagle reached James Island (Santiago Island) in the Galapagos. Darwin spent 9 days on the volcanic island collecting many specimens which contributed to his theory of evolution.

James Island

Locations: Ecuador / Categories: Islands, On this day

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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 08:58

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 13:00

On this day 98 years ago, the most lopsided college football game ever took place at Grant Field in Atlanta, now known as Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated an improvised team from Cumberland College by the remarkable score of 222-0, scoring every time they had the ball for a total of 32 touchdowns. While Cumberland only showed up to avoid paying a large fine, the excessive score was also seen as retribution for an earlier 22-0 baseball game in which the roles were reversed.

Grant Field

Locations: Georgia / Categories: On this day, Stadiums and Sport

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Georgia, On this day, Stadiums and Sport"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 13:00

On October 6, 1887, architect Le Corbusier was born, though at the time he was known as Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris. He was a pioneer of modern architecture, and was determined to improve life for residents of crowded cities. Amongst his creations was the Unité d’habitation, such as this one in Marseille which is being considered for designation as a World Heritage Site. With large apartments and good communal spaces, the design was very popular, though unfortunately not copied very often by other architects who preferred to cram as many flats as possible into each building.

Le Corbusier

Locations: France / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 13:00

This Land is Your Land… Woody Guthrie died on this day in 1967. The acclaimed song-writer and performer of traditional and political music is commemorated with a statue in his birthplace of Okemah, OK.

Woody Guthrie

Locations: Oklahoma / Categories: Monuments, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 13:00

On October 2, 1535, Jacques Cartier became the first European to sight Mont Royal and the large village of Hochelaga, where he was greeted by a sizeable crowd. Over time it became the rather larger community of Montreal. Cartier was convinced he had found the Northwest Passage which would allow him to reach China, leading to a set of rapids (and a town which grew up nearby) to be named Lachine.

Montreal

Locations: Quebec / Categories: Natural Landmarks, On this day, Street Views

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Quebec, Natural Landmarks, On this day, ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 13:00

On this day 35 years ago, the US returned sovereignty of the land around the Panama Canal to Panama. Since the US had financed and constructed the canal, the land 8km (5miles) on either side of it, except in cities, was proclaimed as a US territory, though Panamanians could freely enter the area. The US retained control of the canal itself until the end of 1999.

Panama Canal

Locations: Panama / Categories: On this day, Street Views

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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 13:00

On September 30, 1935, the Hoover Dam was dedicated by President Franklin D Roosevelt. Construction was completed six months later, an astounding 2 years ahead of schedule, despite immense challenges and experimental building techniques. Photosphere by Roelof de Vries

Hoover Dam

Locations: Arizona, Nevada / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 13:00

On this day in 1885, the Tramway in Blackpool opened – the first of its kind in the world. These days the 18km (11 mile) system carries more than 6 million passengers a year, mostly on shiny new trams, though older heritage trams still operate during peak tourist times.

Blackpool Tram

Locations: England / Categories: On this day, Other Vehicles, Street Views

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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 13:14

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 13:00

Eighty years ago today the RMS Queen Mary was launched in Clydebank Scotland. She served as a luxury cruise liner for Cunard for about three decades, until age forced her into retirement. Instead of being scrapped, she was moored permanently at Long Beach, California, where she now acts as a hotel, museum and restaurant.

Queen Mary

Locations: California / Categories: 45˚ Imagery, On this day, Watercraft

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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 13:00

On September 25, 1911, ground was broken for Fenway Park in Boston, the oldest ballpark still in use in the Major Leagues. The Red Sox started playing in the iconic stadium the following season. In 1999 plans were announced to create a modern replica to replace Fenway, with immediate outrage from the team’s fans meaning the plans were eventually shelved.

Fenway Park

Locations: Massachusetts / Categories: 45˚ Imagery, On this day, Stadiums and Sport

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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 13:00

On this day in 1906, Devils Tower in Wyoming was declared a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt. Seventy years later the iconic landmark achieved world-wide fame when it was used as a key location in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Devils Tower

Locations: Wyoming / Categories: Movie Locations, Natural Landmarks, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 13:00

On September 23, 1962, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened in New York. The Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic, was the first facility to be used. Others for dance and opera opened in subsequent years, and the organisation now oversees 30 performance spaces around the city.

Lincoln Centre

Locations: New York / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 13:03

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 13:00

Doesn’t everyone appreciate elephants? We certainly do, and apparently September 22nd is Elephant Appreciation Day. These fine specimens were captured by the Street View car in Botswana.

Elephants

Locations: Botswana / Categories: Animals, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 14:46

We’ve visited a handful of large-scale sculptures by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in the past, but because we love them so much we thought we’d do a comprehensive round up of as many as possible, in roughly chronological order1 of their creation. Clothespin is an Oldenburg work in Philadelphia – one of several pieces in the city that this writer saw during a visit last year, the 13.7m (45′) weathered steel sculpture was erected in 1976.

These prolific artists produced one or more public sculptures – usually of everyday objects – almost every year from 1976 onwards, in countries spanning the globe, meaning that this will be one of the largest posts we’ve ever done on Google Sightseeing. We’ll keep the text to a minimum and let the Street Views, satellite images and PhotoSpheres do the talking. There are a few faintly visible on satellite view which we’ve omitted to try to keep this a reasonable length, with the best possible images, but if you know of any that we’ve missed which are clearly visible, please link to them in the comments to help make this post as complete as possible.

Batcolumn in Chicago is a 31m (101′) tall representation of a baseball bat, from 1977.

Sculpture

1977′s Pool Balls in Münster, Germany, can be seen (unfortunately with graffiti) in this PhotoSphere by Sascha Koalick.

Sculpture

Crusoe’s Umbrella was installed in 1979 outside the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.

Sculpture

The 12m (39′) Flashlight, from 1981, stands on the campus of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Sculpture

Split Button is another Philadelphia sculpture – it is found in a park on the University of Pennsylvania campus. It was installed in 1981.

Sculpture

1982′s Hat in Three Stages of Landing can be seen on the 45° view of Sherwood Park in Salinas, California.

Sculpture

In the garden of a museum in Rotterdam, we find Screwarch from 1983, in this PhotoSphere by Alexis Jemus.

Sculpture

We can just about make out the form of Balancing Tools, which is on the grounds of a design company in Germany.

Sculpture

Spoonbridge and Cherry was installed in 1988 at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Sculpture

1990′s Dropped Bowl with Scattered Peels can be glimpsed through the trees of a Miami park.

Sculpture

Meanwhile, at a park in Paris we can see the various elements of Bicyclette Ensevelie (Buried Bicycle), also from 1990.

Sculpture Sculpture

Binoculars on Main Street in Venice, California, is a central component of a building designed by Frank Gehry in 1991.

Sculpture

In Cleveland, the Free Stamp is a sculpture that we’ve visited before.

Sculpture

Mistos (Match Cover) is found in Barcelona, from 1992.

Sculpture

Bottle of Notes, 1993, stands in a park in Middlesborough, England.

Sculpture

While in Frankfurt we find 1994′s Inverted Collar and Tie.

Sculpture

From the same year, Shuttlecocks is a series of four 5.5m (18′) tall sculptures at an art museum in Kansas City.

Sculpture

Oldenburg and van Bruggen created three works in 1996 before taking a couple of years off…

Houseball in Berlin…

Sculpture

Saw, Sawing in Tokyo…

Sculpture

… and Torn Notebook in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sculpture

They started the new millennium with two works in 2000:

Ago, Filo e Nodo (Needle, Thread and Knot) in Milan…

Sculpture

… and Flying Pins in Eindhoven.

Sculpture

Dropped Cone, from 2001 stands atop a building in Cologne.

Sculpture

Cupid’s Span in San Francisco was created in 2002.

Sculpture

After another break of a few years, in 2006 they installed both Big Sweep outside the Denver Art Museum…

Sculpture

… and Spring in Seoul.

Sculpture

Finally, another work in Philadelphia, 2011′s illuminated Paint Torch, which stands outside the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Sculpture


  1. As listed on the artists’ website, which appears to be missing a few works, based on other lists I’ve seen, including Wikipedia, though the dates on Wikipedia appear to be inaccurate in several cases. 

Locations: California, Colorado, England, Florida, France, Germany, Illinois, Iowa, Italy, Japan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Netherlands, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Korea, Spain / Categories: 45˚ Imagery, Street Views, Structures

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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 13:00

ARRRRRRRRRRRRR! It be talk like a pirate day. Afore ye find yerself becalmed, feast yer eyes on this grand vessel used in a nightly pirate-themed show at the finely-named Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas (Avast! That’s nowhere near the sea, shiver me timbers.) Aye, and smartly read our posts from previous years … arrr. (2008, 2007 & 2005)

Arrrrr

Locations: Nevada / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Weirdness

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