WildChina > WildChina > Dunhuang and the Silk Road

This is the third day of our Silk Road trip. “So far, it’s been so wonderful.” said one of our guests. Our trip started in Xi’an, the starting point of the Silk Road. After changing our flight at Lanzhou, a jumping-off point on the ancient Silk Road, now we’re at Dunhuang, a key trading point of the Silk Road.

Dunhuang was the western-most fort of the early Tang Dynasty, where the east meets west. Long ago its ancient name meant “beautiful desert oasis”. Many foreign merchants, monks, and officials came here for economic, military, political and cultural communications, which provided the basis for the flourishing of one of China’s earliest Buddhist centers.

Mogao caves in Dunhuang

One of the significant sites here are the Mogao Caves, which consists of 492 caves with 25,000 square meters of wall paintings and more than 3,000 painted sculptures, spanning from the 4th to the 14th century.

This is an UNESCO site, the same as Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an. Personally, I think this site is better preserved by local government.

For instance:

  • Taking photos is strictly forbidden in the cave, tourists must leave their bags outside before they go in. (While the Terra Cotta Warriors site allows photos without flash, but no one really monitors this.)
  • There is a ‘tourist indicator’ installed in each cave, to test the carbon dioxide content. If carbon dioxide is at excess of an average level, a “no-entry” sign will be put outside.
  • Guides at the sites are real experts. They’re either working at Mogao Cave study center or Dunuang library.

After lunch at a courtyard “farmer’s house”, we rested while expecting the most exciting moment – a Camel Ride in the Gobi Desert.

The Gobi Desert is the largest desert region in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. It covers part of northwestern in China and southern Mongolia. The part we went is Mingsha Sands Dune, means singing sands hills. The sand dunes have beautiful ranges like a mountain range.

Dunhuang and the Silk Road

Camel – Ship of the Desert, what I learned today is:

  • An adult camel weights about 500-600 kg; a baby camel weights about 100 kg
  • A camel will need 100 kg of plants per meal, such as grass, tree leaves, corn stalk (it’s costly to keep a camel!I would not want a camel as a pet)
  • Camels can live without water for a week, once they drink they can drink 6 liters water in 10 minutes.
Dunhuang and the Silk Road

The end of day – sunset at 6:40.

Dunhuang and the Silk Road

The first day, our guests liked the lively market at Muslim quarter and amazing dumpling banquet; yesterday, the second day, our guests were so impressed by Terracotta Warriors and the Chinese hamburger “rou jia mo”. That’s our trip, every day has something special – the fun never stops!

So, what will we do tomorrow?

Fan Na @ Dunhuang

WildChina can take you to Gansu!

For centuries, the winding province of Gansu marked the eastern edge of the exotic Silk Road. On this adventurous twist on a classic Silk Road tour, you’ll encounter sand dunes that sing in the wind, mountains with colors that dance in the sunlight, and deserts that hide ancient Buddhist art in clandestine caves.

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