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.
We passed through vast barren
Some times there were small clumps of some very hardy grass and one or
two other plants, but no shrubs or trees.
On arrival in Dunhuang we passed a very impressive new hotel.
Dunhuang is a small city with little traffic on its wide streets.
The motor cycle pickup truck is quite common.
Mountains of sand form a background to parts of the city.
Our own hotel, the
Dunhuang Silk Road Hotel, was also very
A mural in the lobby shows some of the influences on the region due to
traffic along the ancient silk road.
Within the hotel grounds was a very interesting garden. One
section was very traditional.
Blossom trees were featured
section of the garden.
In the afternoon light the blossoms are quite beautiful.
From the hotel grounds you can see the massive sand dunes that are one
of the attractions of Dunhuang.
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.
The smooth lines of the Mingshashan are fascinating.
While we usually associate deserts with heat, the weather in April was
cool. In the background here is a clue to how we are going to
up the hill.
This camel looks quite happy.
Sakorn is all ready for the ride.
Sakorn is mounted and ready to go.
Here she is again on her way with camera at the ready.
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
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.
While nothing grows in the dry sand, around the oasis at the foot of
the mountain of sand, many plants are growing. For some
for centuries, the sand has never moved into the oasis area.
Beautiful blossoms on fruit trees provide a contrast to the surrounding
One last photo of Sakorn and the Mingsha sand mountain.
Just as we were leaving I spotted this jet fighter. I was
that joy flights over the area were available. The jet can be
with Google Earth at 40 5.544 N 94 40.776 E.
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 is standing in front of the nine-storey pagoda set
into the cliff face.
here is another view of the pagoda. To the right are many
well-preserved grottoes containing priceless artworks.
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
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.