You gotta pay to see the dunes in Dunhuang???!!!!


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Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang
July 13th 2013
Published: July 13th 2013
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On my last day in Dunhuang I got up early and I cycled to the edge of the city where the sand dunes can be seen. I also found a charming little youth hostel there, just at the foot of the desert. I dropped my bags and my bike there (40rmb a night) and went for a walk. I was surprised and annoyed that tourists were asked to pay 120 Yuan to “visit” the sand dunes. And the entire desert was surrounded by a fence! Do you believe this?! I am a bad tourist and I decided to walk farther down ( I mean WAY down!) to find a hole in the fence and snoop in. I don’t mind paying money to visit Buddhist caves and museums, or even lakes that need protection but sand???!! No Way! So I walked a good 30 minutes along farms. Yeah, that’s right, there are farms along the desert. Dunhuang is an oasis so thanks to irrigation local farmers can grow pretty much anything they want and 20 meters down, it’s all sand and dunes. I found a hole below the tall fence and I got under… I should have taken a picture! Shame on me? Oh well, I ended up having to climb a huge dune and from the top, I had the best view over that ridiculous little moon lake that has become Dunhuang’s landmark: the Crescent Lake. I was all alone on this side of the desert but it was around 12pm and it got hot, very hot! I found refuge under a bush and spent more than 3 hours rotating under it to avoid the sun. I read a bit and I slept. Around 4pm I got up and went on towards the desert, far behind the lake. Once again there was no one else, no one to photograph or to take a picture for me. I actually like taking pictures of people or cars in the sand dunes because it gives a better idea of the scale of the desert. Sand dunes only look as amazing as they really are when we can compare them to the Jeeps or the buggies tourists ride around. I went from one big dune to another, emptying the sand out of my shoes every so often. The view was splendid, especially later on in the evening when colors change just before sunset. I met 2 girls from Japan who were traveling around the world for… 2 years! We walked 30 minutes together. I convinced them to climb up a dune. Asian tourists don’t really like walking. In the desert the bureau of tourism has set us a road and mini buses to take the tourists from the gate to the little moon lake… 500 meters! And then most of them ride a camel that takes them to one particular dune where they climb up quickly, take a few pictures and go back… Is it worth 120 Yuan? J The first time I went traveling with Becky, I also made her walk a lot and she was extremely surprised that I (foreigners?) like to go farther and farther to see what’s behind… but I was pleased when she told me that she liked it and that she would have never done it by herself or with her friends. So as usual, in Dunhuang, I walked all around, and up and down, and up and down the dunes… and for free! The funny thing is that back at the youth hostel when I sat down for dinner the backpackers around the table were all talking about how they would like to find a way to get in the desert without paying… And I did tell them ;-)


Additional photos below
Photos: 50, Displayed: 24


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Dunhuang oasisDunhuang oasis
Dunhuang oasis

from the dunes
the little Crescent Lakethe little Crescent Lake
the little Crescent Lake

all alone on this side
Crescent lakeCrescent lake
Crescent lake

they walled the lake...
sand + windsand + wind
sand + wind

it's never easy to hide such a long nose btw
hot, hot, hot!hot, hot, hot!
hot, hot, hot!

12pm time to hide. Not easy in a treeless desert...
nestlednestled
nestled

looking for shade


14th July 2013

awesome post :D
wow, the pictures of you on the sand are awesome! I would love to have my own trip to Dunhuang. I've been to Ilocos, Philippines. They have a desert-like sand but they don't have camels. It's like a sand within a city of soil. - Alice Durano, Bergville Accommodation
14th July 2013

You gotta pay to see the dunes in Dunhuang???!!!!
I'd like to visit this place but don't mind paying to see the dunes and would take a camel ride too! by the way, I enjoy reading your story.
14th July 2013

Sneaky
Good idea and glad you enjoyed the day. Love the photo of Cresent Lake. Safe travels.
15th July 2013

For some persons,it\'s too tired to walk in the desert.╮(╯▽╰)╭However, paying to see the dunes or walking half an hour,i will have a try to walk~
15th July 2013
ugly little camel

En fait je le trouve beau, je ne dois pas être normal
15th July 2013
hot, hot, hot!

C'est vrai, on dirait qu'il fait très chaud, en même temps, c'est bon pour le bronzage....Tu as vraiment de belles couleurs, c'est d'ailleurs raccord avec ton tee shirt lol
15th July 2013
smile! it's for Mommy!

Comme d'habitude...C'est trop mignonnnn!!!!!!!!
15th July 2013
come on people!

Je suis d'accord avec toi! Je trouve pas classe du tout....
15th July 2013
happy

et ça se voit!!!!
15th July 2013
this place deserves a little dance!

Tu as raté ta vocation, tu aurais dû être danseur pro, vu ton petit coup de bras....
15th July 2013
Smiling in spite of the head wind

Courage...
17th July 2013
enjoying the view

What's that flying behind you?
Top left... hang glider? :-)
17th July 2013
ugly little camel

this camel..............
I want this little camel in my garden..........
18th July 2013

Must admit...
I stayed at that 5 star hotel, paid to enter the dunes and rode a camel. But then again, I was time constrained so I did China in 2 weeks, Uzbekistan in 1 week, and the Baltics/Finland in 1 week...with an almost healed broken ankle. With all that walking you should have considered buying the orange booties they sell at the entrance.
18th July 2013

broken ankle??!
I do like walking a lot. It is the best way to see things. Riding a camel is nice too... But I get enough riding on that bike of mine. My Butt is sore most of the time! ;-)

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