Published: July 16th 2012July 16th 2012
Last night we camped on the border with Gansu province, the first successful bush camp in China). Dunhuang is not too big and it welcomes tourists. I was adventurous today and went on my own to the night market for lunch - I found there was plenty of lunchtime trade. It has some similarities with Bristol market at lunchtime, although the selection is from different parts of China and also Korea. The menu was in Chinese. I just said mien to her, which means noodles and she chose for me the beef noodle dish and also the apricot skin drink. It sounds strange,but was tasty and refreshing. In the evening we all went for supper at the night market and Road and Sophie ordered for us - an interesting and enjoyable choice too - dishes with donkey meat and a dish made from flowers.
After all that food, Dunhuang has more treasures. Its best treasures are the Buddhist paintings in the Mogao caves. Forexample if you look up to the ceilingoof some of the caves you see 100s of identical Buddhas. The caves are sometimes called 1000 Buddha caves. The paintings on the walls and ceiling havepreserved much of their original colour, though there is some oxidisation in some caves. The huge buddhas, one reclining, were impressive, but it was the small details in the caves that for me was the highlight: for example I enjoyed the Tang dynasty cave with the landscape with camels. Notoriously 1000s of precious manuscripts were stolen from the hidden library cave in the early twentieth century. These manuscripts had been hidden for nearly 1000 years behind a painted wall until they were discoveredby a Taoist monk.
In the afternoon I ventured on a bus (- my first attempt at public transport) to the singing sands and crescent lake. I avoided the groups by arriving mid afternoon. The dunes I think are the largest in China and there was a good view down to Dunhuang from the top. The sand is supposed to make a singing sound. While I enjoyed a cooling drink I chatted to a couple of Chinese girls, one of whom spoke excellent English.
The evening entertainment was another visit to the night market and a girls night out at the "Dunhuang goddess" show. This is an acrobatic and music show based on a deer girl story taken from one of the caves. The costumes and scenery were slick like a musical and the show included two full size camels. The acrobatic and aerial tricks were impressive.