Health and Safety
In an emergency, your first stop should be a good hotel. Even if you are not a guest, or if you don't speak Chinese or have a Chinese friend to call on, get a hotel involved to arrange treatment and provide translation. Emergency services operators do not speak English.
Traveling in the Desert
Things change quickly from uncomfortable to dangerous in the intense heat of northwest China's expansive deserts. Temperatures in the summer reach 100°F (37.8°C), with some areas—the depression around Turpan in particular—soaring to 122°F (50°C). Many of the sites you'll be visiting are remote and lack even the most basic facilities.
In conditions like these, it's unwise to travel without abundant water, as well as strong sunscreen, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, a good hat, toilet paper, and some heat-resistant snacks (dried fruit and nuts). Buy frozen plastic bottles of water in the morning and they'll stay cool until lunchtime.