Desert, 540 km of it, in one day of spectacular landscape. From Dunhuang to Huatugou, a town unknown to Google, where the police chief was so helpful, escorting us to his “recommended” hotel, with an armed comitatus (look it up, it's got Silk Road roots), while he personally supervised our check in.
Huatugou looks like a desert garrison town, but more recently an oil town. Many of the men on the street wore the red or black work gear of the Sinopec oil company, and many were quite threatening, wanting to shake hands, take photos, offer us a drink or even have their photos taken with us. Just as well the police were around.