The Silk Road

Hami to Dunhuang

The next stage of our trip was from Hami to Dunhuang. This took us across another 400 kilometres of  very dry treeless country. Dunhuang is in Gangsu province.  

stony desert

We passed through vast barren areas.



more desert

Some times there were small clumps of some very hardy grass and one or two other plants, but no shrubs or trees.


New Hotel

On arrival in Dunhuang we passed a very impressive new hotel.


Dunhuang street scene

Dunhuang is a small city with little traffic on its wide streets.


Transport

The motor cycle pickup truck is quite common.


sand hills

Mountains of sand form a background to parts of the city.


Dunhuang Silk Road Hotel

Our own hotel,
the Dunhuang Silk Road Hotel, was also very impressive.

 
mural

A mural in the lobby shows some of the influences on the region due to traffic along the ancient silk road.


Chinese garden

Within the hotel grounds was a very interesting garden.  One section was very traditional.


Blossom trees

Blossom trees were
featured in another section of the garden.


blossom

In the afternoon light the blossoms are quite beautiful.


hills

From the hotel grounds you can see the massive sand dunes that are one of the attractions of Dunhuang.


Gate

To get to the Mingshashan, or "the singing sand mountain" visitors pass through this gate. According to our tour guide the name comes from the musical sound generated when you slide down the dune.


Terry and Mingsha


The smooth lines of the Mingshashan are fascinating.


Sakorn and sand mountain

While we usually associate deserts with heat, the weather in April was quite cool.  In the background here is a clue to how we are going to get up the hill.


camel

This camel
looks quite happy.


Sakorn and camels

Sakorn is all ready for the ride.


camel lady

Sakorn is mounted and ready to go.


camel lady 2

Here she is again on her way with camera at the ready.


Terry on camel

Here I am on a camel for the first time. And please note that these camels are fully equipped, with two humps, not just one as you might find with the cheaper models.


view from the top

The camels get a rest while we walk further on foot.  In the background, the desert extends to the horizon while, off to the left, is some vegetation on the outskirts of Dunhuang.


oasis

While nothing grows in the dry sand, around the oasis at the foot of the mountain of sand, many plants are growing.  For some reason, for centuries, the sand has never moved into the oasis area.


blossom

Beautiful blossoms on fruit trees provide a contrast to the surrounding desert.


Sakorn on rock

One last photo of Sakorn and the Mingsha sand mountain.


Jet

Just as we were leaving I spotted this jet fighter.  I was told that joy flights over the area were available.  The jet can be seen with Google Earth at 40 5.544 N 94 40.776 E.


Magao Grottoes

The Magao Grottoes
are another attraction of Dunhuang. These were created by Buddhist monks over a period of nearly 1000 years starting in 366 AD. A number of the more than 400 grottoes are in quite good condition.



Sakorn at Magao

Sakorn is standing in front of the
nine-storey pagoda set into the cliff face.


Magao Temple

here is another view of the pagoda.  To the right are many well-preserved grottoes containing priceless artworks.  


Grotto interior

The picture shows painted clay figures from Cave 328 which date back to the Early Tang Dynasty (618 to 704).

Photography is not allowed inside the grottoes.  This is understandable as the delicate murals would be affected by the flashes from the cameras of the many thousands of visitors.  This picture comes from an excellent book titled "China Dunhuang" published by the Jiangsu Fine Arts Publishing House and available at many tourist shops in the region.

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