Dunhuang was as far as we went on this trip. The challenge for the tour organisers was to make the return trip, along the same road, as interesting as the first half of the tour.
While most of the photos in these pages show the more interesting places, a feature of this trip was experiencing the vast, barren desert areas. The first four photos here show some of the desert on the way back to Hami.
The contrast between the barren desert and the lush gardens around our hotel in Hami is huge.
Some of the rooms at our hotel were in Tudor style buildings. The tree just behind me is not quite what it seems.
The tree trunks, in this photo, and in the previous one, are fossils consisting of petrified wood. We saw a lot of this in various places around Hami.
A mausoleum for Uyghur kings at Hami. There is also a mosque and another mausoleum at the site.
Hami is also famous for its melons. This is a fine example.
More stony desert with distant snow-capped mountains in the background.
The road seems to go on forever.
Shanshan is on the edge of the Kumtag Desert. This train carries tourists from the entrance to the desert park to the site of a number of attractions.
Among the attractions are a range of sand sculptures. This one shows a space capsule and commemorates the flight of China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, who studied near Shanshan.
This sculpture shows a typical Urgyur musical trio.
Sakorn sits after falling while climbing a sand dune.
Lizard tracks cross in the sand. I didn't see any lizards but there were plenty of tracks about.
These camels too, are not quite what they seem.
While these camels were not real there were a few real camels about.
A person can look very insignificant in the huge expanse of the desert.
Our next stop presented us with some stunning scenery. The sandstone of the hills varied in colour.
Sakorn with a magnificent background.
A river flows at the base of the mountain.
Below the plain, in the river valley, the Bezkilik Thousand-Buddha Caves are hewn into the cliff face.
There are about 80 caves here. Of these, about 40 have significant artworks in them.
Alongside the river is a house. The wooden framework supports grapevines while the structure on the roof is a drying room to preserve the grapes.