Published: August 14th 2008August 14th 2008
We woke early with the plan of heading to Dunhuang.
After a few days of camping we were looking forward to a shower and washing some clothes (the simple things!). It was a big day of driving through sand storms. We tried to find somewhere to have lunch out of the storms but ended up eating on the truck.
It was a hot day of driving (around 9hrs) and late in the afternoon we rolled into Dunhuang. Dunhuang is a regional centre that is the launching point for the Magao Caves. The caves are Budhist caves that housed many well preserved frescoes and sculptures. The British archeologist - Auriel Stein - came across them in the early 20th Century and managed to convince the Monk to sell him thousands of manuscripts. Those manuscripts are still in the British Museum despite Chinas attempts to have them returned. That was all information for the next few days. When we first arrived we were simply interested in the hot shower and the promise of banana pancakes (yes the food of travellers all around the world!) at Jon's cafe.
We have had quite a few days where you have to order from menus
where there is no English spoke and the menus are all in Chinese Characters. It is quite fun trying out your Chinese words and trying to make sure that you don't accidently order turtle or cow's stomach. (to be honest all the food has been fantastic). Here in Dunhuang it is geared up for Western Tourists - the Banana Pancakes were great but the prices are more '
We went out to see the caves yesterday - they were awesome! You weren't allowed to take photos inside the caves - so I just got shots of the entrance. The first cave was a 35m Buddha and there were many well preserved frescoes from the 6th Century AD (and then others had modern renovations .... in the 11th Century!). We had a really good guide - so I really enjoyed looking around.
The afternoon was free time. Today, also, has nothing planned. We have tried to catch up on Olympics viewing. I am seeing more of the Table Tennis, Badminton, Pistol Shooting and Weightlifting than I have ever seem before! It is wierd only seeing a small amount of swimming (when China wins). This morning we hired bikes and
cycled out to the Cresent Lake (it is below sea level). This afternoon is a catchup time. The night market has a big screen for the Olympics so some of us may head down there later.
Tomorrow we have a big day of driving. We are heading towards Turpan with a session of free camping tomorrow night. After Turpan it is four days around the Taklimakan Desert on the way to Kashgar. (We thought that we could have been blocked going th
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