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vbx000 Dunhuang - A travel report by Veronica
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Dunhuang,  China - flag China -  Gansu
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vbx000's travel reports

Turpan to Dunhuang: Adventures of the Silk Road

  17 votes
Page: 1 2
We left Turpan after a few boring days of nothingness to make our way to the Gansu province. We saw a great deal of sites inbetween Turpan and Dunhuang. Dunhuang was another weary travelers paradise.


The Desert in the Morning...
The Desert in the Morning...
Our first sites on our way to Dunhuang was the Flaming Mountains and Tuyugou caves. These are a set of caves inside the mountains with ancient Buddhist stucos inside- sadly all of them were destroyed by the Muslims when they took over the region. You can still see the bodies of the bodhisattvas and buddhas but the faces have been smashed in. It was still beautiful, in a sad way. In this art you can apparently see the Greek influence on Buddhist art, but we weren't allowed to take pictures. You'll just have to trust me. After this we saw the Jiaohe ancient city. Apparently its the largest, oldest and best preesrved earthern city of the world! It was the capital of the Cheshi State and lies between two rivers. There is an old Indian proverb that says Intelligence is bound to exist where two rivers meet. Jiaohe in Chinese means where two rivers meet. Historically it once held 700 households, 6500 residents plus 865 soliders. Eventually the inhabitants all fled because the city was fought over by the Turpan region, Hui and Mongols. What is an abandoned city worth? Silly warfare.

Favourite spots:
Walking towards Tuyuguo caves
Walking towards Tuyuguo caves
Our final stop before we reached Dunhuang was at the Mogao caves. The art here is from Northern and Western Wei, Zhou, Sui and Tang dynasties. This set caves, although really renovated for tourist invasion depicted some of the most beautiful beautiful artwork, outside of Tibet, that I've seen in China. The paint was still bright and colorful despite the thousands of years. Sometimes tourist attractions suprise me and I actually enjoy them! During the cultural revolution Mao Zidong ordered the 'four olds' of China destroyed. Old thought, old religion, old culture, old... I don't remember. Part of old religioni was Buddhism, and his red guard trounced the countryside and completely destroyed precious temples, artifacts and killed thousands upon thousands of monks. The only way monks managed to save relics was by hanging picture or cloth with Chairman Mao's face over paintings and statues. These caves were spared the sad fate because Mao housed his troops in the caves.

What's really great:
Tuyugou Caves
Tuyugou Caves
In Dunhuang we woke up really early, like 4am early, to go out to the sand dunes of the Takla Makan desert. We drove to the Singing sound Mountains (Mingsha Shan) and Crescent Moon Lake (Yueya Ouan). Now, at 4am until the sun begins to rise this place feels like a quiet, peaceful desert, but as soon as the sun begins to rise the tourists start pouring in and the camal caravans start littering the duneside. We felt really alone and adventurous until this happened and we realized it was yet another tourist trap. We watched the sunrise, although it was really late and kept us waiting for hours, after climbing up this dune. It was a lot of fun and very tiring, climbing up a dune. The best was running/rolling down it afterwards, the Chinese tourists watched the fifty americans act like five year olds rolling down the dune and snapped pictures, laughing to themselves and at us.

Sights:
Jiaohe Ancient City. Notice the size of the buildings.
Jiaohe Ancient City. Notice the size of the buildings.
The camel thing is really great if you get there before the rest of the tourists. I was the head camel of my line, but my camel wasn't really friendly. I got the impression that he wasn't too happy with life and that we should all just leave him alone.

The best moment, for me and probably the camel, was when the man leading us yanked the creature up harshly (with me on his back as he stood up) and the camel responded by giving a loud, drawn out depressive hollar then gooed green slime all of the mans back and hair. I laughed so hard until the man shot me an evil look. But, I couldnt help it... go camel! I would green goo all over that jerkface too if he always yanked me up with some heavy human on my back.

But, after witnessing the green goo experience I gave my camel as much personal space as possible. He successfully exerted his dominence with green goo. Not bad, not bad.

Its hard for me to admit, but I think camels are smarter than horses.

Accommodations:
Shine, my Chinese love & I on the sanddune
Shine, my Chinese love & I on the sanddune
We stayed at the Feitian Hotel. 0937-8822266. It was a decent hotel, the reason I called it a weary travelors paradise was because we had western comforts and food and the city was really nice.

Nightlife:
Great story! We stole this flag than posed victoriously
Great story! We stole this flag than posed victoriously
There are probably clubs and discos but we were all exhaused the entire two week trip. Our travel/study group keeps us really busy on these academic trips. We are always on the move hopping from bus to hotel to city to bus to hotel to city...

Hangouts:
Sun peaking over the dunes.
Sun peaking over the dunes.
No pubs, but a great market. I have this habit of buying the art of every region I go to. It's like a tourist tick or something. This market had good art, souviners and was fun to explore.

Restaurants:
I thought this was more clever than a traditional riding camel pic
I thought this was more clever than a traditional riding camel pic
If it was a designated meal time we ate western food. Mmm, western food or if I feel like the western food place is probably not very good, I always order fried rice with chicken or fried noodles with chicken. Those are my safty dishes.

But... when the lights went down and nighttime hit it was yangrou chuar time! That is lamb skewers, delicoius savory lamb skewers and my all time favorite china snack. I told you about the time in Inner Mongolia when I ate like 30 in one sitting right? I did. I swear.

Other recommendations:
And it Rises! Peaking over the dune with a smiling face.
And it Rises! Peaking over the dune with a smiling face.
Warning about Yangrou Chuar:
*Always ask the price BEFORE you sit down and gorge. Students from our group arrived at one of the many chuar grills, sat down and began feasting and when it was time to leave the man charged them 2rmb per chuar! That is a ridiculous price. We sat at the nieghboring grill and asked how much and he said .50rmb each. Thats a huge different, and the mean man knew thats how much they were worth but tried to take advantage of limited chinese speaking tourists.

Myself and one of the American-Born-Chinese went to the man and tried to argue with him and he refused to give them that price. I told them just to leave .50 rmb per chuar because that is how much they are, period. But, they didn't have the guts. So, they got ripped off big time.

UNless its at a restaurant, only pay .50 rmb a yangrou chuar!

Published on Tuesday November 8th, 2005


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Tue, Nov 15 2005 - 11:16 AM rating by gloriajames

hiya
well done, i enjoyed this report.
gj

Tue, Nov 08 2005 - 05:48 PM rating by jorgesanchez

5 points, of course!

Tue, Nov 08 2005 - 03:35 PM rating by jesusferro

Thanks for showing us fantastic places

Tue, Nov 08 2005 - 06:50 AM rating by isaacmolina

Yes, good report, xe xe. But I am jealous of Shine...!

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