Published: October 15th 2008October 14th 2008
We were woken early on the train by the noise of our fellow passengers chatting, singing and generally making a racket at daft o'clock. We recovered from this rude awakening and made our way out to our country hostel 6km outside of Dunchuang overlooking the dunes of the Gobi desert.
From here we arranged an overnight Camel Trek with the guys at the hostel and later that afternoon were introduced to Mr Li, our guide and Colin and Bob, our transport. We set off past the cotton fields and into the desert, it all being very quiet apart from Mr Li's occasional burst of singing and Colin's passage of wind. Colin (Tom's Camel) shared a few traits with his rider; he always needed the toilet immediately after setting off, would enjoy the occasional snack break, was generally quite sluggish up the hills and of course enjoyed a "little lie down" from time to time. After a couple of hours we arrived at our chosen spot for the night, in time to watch sunset and eat our noodles around the camp fire.
We were up early the next morning for sunrise before heading down the dunes back to our hostel. Bob
being rather eager to get home for his breakfast, was happy to be fed some green leaves and twigs by Lucy when we returned!
Later that day we travelled up to the Mogao caves, a series of over 500 caverns with ancient artwork from different chinese Dynasties dating back to 500AD. We met up with Lizzie, and old school friend of Tom's who is working on the restoration of the caves and were treated to a guided tour around them learning about the restoration techniques and how to spot the fakes!
The rest of our time in Dunchuang was spent either relaxing in our comfortable hostel or exploring this charming town with its colourful night market and clean atmosphere. We had excellent dumplings with mutton and fennel at the night market, a perfect accompaniment for some Huang He, the local brew.
The train onwards to Xian was fully booked, so we had the luxury of a fourth night in Dunchuang, the longest we've stayed anywhere since leaving the UK!
There are more photos below