A small town on the edge of the Gobi Desert symbolizes the problems faced by rural China. The mother of a 21-year-old unemployed man wishes he would marry, but it's impossible to find a wife because China's one-child policy results in a shortage of women.
Farther down Route 312, an arid village suffers a water shortage caused when corrupt local officials seized control of the supply. Asked what he can do about it, a resident is resigned to answer: "endure."
In the fourth of seven reports on his 3,000-mile journey across China, NPR's Rob Gifford tells stories of hard life in China's countryside.