Friday, September 20, 2013

Silk Road Part 3: Dunhuang

The evening of August 14 we took a night train (yes, we took another one even though we swore we wouldn't after Vietnam) to Dunhuang from Turpan. It was exactly what we expected it to be - torturous!

As part of our send off, our driver shared some of his watermelon with us - this was his third watermelon - the first 2 were no good so he returned them!

It was quite juicy and just what we needed for our night train adventure

We both got top bunks

And Mustache Kitty too

Yeah, it's pretty much more desert

After the long night on the train, we were picked up at Liuyuan Railway Station (in the pouring rain). Another 2 hour drive later, we finally arrive in Dunhuang. We checked in and rested for a bit, had lunch and then headed out for our day of sight seeing and camel riding. Our first stop was the Mogao Caves (Thousand Buddha Caves) which is home to hundreds of murals and sculptures. You're not not allowed to take photos inside but being the daredevil that I am, I snuck a couple.

Walking towards the entrance to the Mogao Caves, you pass by some stupas

Here's a zoomed in shot of some of the stupas

Entrance gate

These are the cave entrances

These are some of the ones we weren't allowed to go into

The view from the 2nd floor

We found 227 but did not find Jackié

I'm such a rebel...At the time, I remembered why I wanted a picture of this particular Buddha but now that it was a month ago, I don't remember.

I'm pretty sure this is the sitting Maitreya statue in cave #9 at about 30 meters, making it the third tallest sitting Buddha statue in China 

Our next stop was the Echoing-sand Dune to ride the camel.

Indeed we were welcome to ride the camel

Sporting orange boots to keep the sand out of our shoes and socks


Waiting for people to climb on top of them

Me and my ca-mel...strolling down the sand dunes

It was hard to ride the camel and take photos

There were a ton of people

And therefore, a ton of camels


It was hard to walk up the sand hill


We managed to spot a matching couple!

Joe and his camel whisperer

Poor things

It was actually quite sad to see all these camels with floppy humps

Getting ready to ride back down

Love this shot

Yes, the camel does have a head

We then walked to Crescent Lake.

We were lucky we had blue skies - it was raining earlier in the day

Big sunflower

Next to the Crescent Lake is this pagoda which is a replica of the one destroyed during the Cultural Revolution

Crescent Lake

Paul is trying to camouflage himself by being Asian

Bye bye sand dunes

The highlight of Paul's evening was when we were bombarded by a bunch of Chinese students taking a summer English course who wanted to practice their English. They were so excited to meet Paul that some of the kids were literally shaking.

Student: Do you like basketball? / Paul: Yes, Yao Ming is great

The girl to Paul's left was shaking

Hugs for everyone!

It was the boy with the glasses who first asked Paul for a hug. He was also the boy who told Paul he was real pretty.

Another group photo

We walked around the night market after chatting with the students. Well, really after Paul chatted with them. Most Chinese people in China didn't believe I was American...or rather didn't understand how I could be Chinese American. The students were nice about it but most others aren't helpful if I don't speak Mandarin or even when I do (probably because my Mandarin is at the level of a 8 year old).

The usual scene of a night market

Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a guy on a scooter trying to ride through the crowd

The next morning, we checked out and headed to the Dunhuang Museum before catching our flight to Xi'an. It was quite educational.

The Han Dynasty Great Wall, 100km from Dunhuang

I was annoyed when our tour guide said, "if you have time, you should go, it's really amazing to see." I responded, "Really? It would have been nice to be included in the expensive tour we booked but considering we leave for the airport in 2 hours, I really appreciate your advice." Ok, I said that in my head but I really do hate Travel China Guide.

Messages on bamboo sticks

Zhangzhi - famous for calligraphy

Wei and Jin dynasties in the 3rd or 5th centuries (AD) had forks and knives!

Replica of Dunhuang Mogao Cave #45

High Tang Dynasty: 705-780AD

Tomb guard of the Tang Dynasty - these were put in front of coffins to scare away evil 

Paul and Cao Yijing

We had a quick lunch, walked around town a little bit more and then headed to the airport.

Dunhuang is actually quite a nice little town

At the airport, there is a smoking room...

But everyone likes to smoke at the door to share it with everyone else

Bye bye Dunhuang


  1. I hope you guys are nowhere near the typhoon headed towards China. Be careful. Billy & Esther

    1. Thanks for your concern - I'm behind in my posts so we're not in China anymore. We've been in Nepal for about a week. : )

  2. Too bad you traveled all the way to China and didn't get to see Jackie!

  3. #1 - How many people remember that show, btw??
    #2 - I think you took a picture of that buddha b/c it looks like Paul and Capt'n.
    #3 - Paul IS very pretty.

    1. #1 - I think plenty of people remember that show - you did!
      #2 - Maybe subconsciously I took the photo because it reminded me of Paul and Capt'n...sad to say, as of yesterday (9/25), Capt'n is no more. Well, at least until he grows back.
      #3 - Yes, Paul IS very pretty.


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