Liang Yan, for NPR
NPR's Rob Gifford plays tourist in the sand dunes of China's Gobi Desert.
To reach the cities and tourist attractions of western China, the well-to-do travel by plane. But for most travelers crossing parts of the sun-baked Gobi Desert, there's the bus. (Camels are reserved mostly for tourists now.)
Rickety vehicles ply Route 312, which parallels the old Silk Road, carrying traders who deal in cell phones rather than silk and spices, and construction workers heading toward government-funded projects farther west.
NPR's Rob Gifford has this, his fifth report in a series of seven about his 3,000-mile journey across China.