Blogs from Dunhuang, Gansu, China, Asia


Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang March 15th 2018

A big day today so no breakfast, our guide was here at 08.20 and by 9.00 we were in the theatre of the Dunhuang Caves World Heritage Site pre-visit centre (aka “Mogao Grottoes”). The place was packed, maybe 300 people? Visitors are limited to 3,000 per day, to protect the site. The first film was very Chinese, lots of violence and horses thundering around, but it gave a picture of life as it would have been since the period of the Warring States. We then all moved to a planetarium-style theatre, where you seemed to be moving through a series of the actual caves as the art and history was explained (headphones for English translation); a “virtual reality” experience as if one had super-powers to get close and personal with lofty ceilings etc. An excellent introduction, ... read more
Roof timbers
The Buddha Cave
The beacon tower

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang March 13th 2018

After a very lengthy day and a few hours sleep, got up to discover that our very nice hotel does not normally serve breakfast; but very kindly something special was provided – good coffee, some tea, white bread, jam, cakes and slices of spam. Very thoughtful but not quite what we had become used to enjoying. Set off to explore the town, which is beautifully clean, very smart and attractive. We crossed the river and walked up the other side to admire the extraordinary use that has been made of a flow that must be intensely seasonal. Ninety per cent of the width has been equipped with a weir which feeds a wide, very shallow basin, inset with artificial islands connected by stepping stones or walkways; after a second weir a deeper, receiving pool has been ... read more
The scratch breakfast!
Buddhist angel
An iceberg below a weir, Dunhuang

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang March 12th 2018

A brief outline of the dull bit: arose as planned at 05.20 for 06.00 start, to travel 475 miles, estimated 15hr journey. Went straight to bed on arrival, climbed in at 05.18. No breakfast, lunch or dinner at all! Pretty stressful day. However, we travelled through amazing scenery. The first section, via Miran, Donglik and Bashkorgan to Huatuguo, led first across a lengthy plain, seemingly pure white sandy desert but in the dark! In daylight we began to climb through beautiful, warm, rounded bare rock mountain scenery, with a mostly frozen river trace running beside us; in summer it must be spectacular, flowing in full flood. We climbed to reach 7,500 feet by 1pm, where there was a police throatpoint. The scene at that point, sadly, beggared belief – the filth and chaos was simply indescribable, ... read more
There are 250 lorries in this line
Open-cast quarrying near Bashkorgan, Xinjiang
Oil wells near Huatugou

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang July 24th 2016

Hi All, Wow! Those are some dunes! A quick bus ride to the outskirts of Dunhuang and the desert appears at the end of the road. It is beautiful how the oasis town ends and the desert begins. Once inside there are a multitude of activities including helicopter and microlight flights , quad bikes, sand sliding, go karting and camel rides. We stuck with the camels. I have riden camels before and I forgot how uncomfortable it is! After we got off we climbed to the top of the dunes to see the dunes and to see the sand disappear into the distance, really beautiful. In the park is a small lake and a temple which make for a wonderful vista from the top of the dunes.. Once it got to 1 o'clock we made a ... read more

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang July 21st 2016

Hi All, I must say it was worth the trip all the way out here. The Mogao caves were something else. Getting a ticket wasn't the easiest of tasks, finding someone with correct information wasn't easy. I got a ticket through a travel agency but there were only tickets for non Chinese, Chinese tickets were booked up for 2 months!! The caves are easy to get to with the bus for the train station taking people there. Once inside the visitor centre I watched two films, one of the story of Dunhuang and the caves and another showing the inside of the caves. After the films it is a 5 minute ride on a coach to the caves themselves. There was only two English speaking visitors so we had a quite intimate experience. Our guide took ... read more

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang October 3rd 2015

Gansu province is a place full of wonders, as all the locations that are scattered in the desert. The feeling that I had was indescribable, especially when I visited the beautiful Mogao grottoes. In the far and remote west of the country just before the autonomous Region of Xinjiang. I stopped for a few days in the city of Dunhuang which was situated some 25 km southeast of the caves. The sight was of tremendous beauty carved out on the slope of the Mount Mingsha. This feeling of splendor and seclusion soon dropped as I approached to the entrance of the caves. Masses of tourists waited in line their turn before entering the grottoes. This was the first negative aspect of this place and, unfortunately, it was prohibited to take photos while inside the caves. From ... read more

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang October 1st 2015

Dunhuang city is not very much appealing if it was not for the stunning sights you can discover around it. I arrived there after a long trip by train from Langzhou. One of those stunning and marvellous places is the so called Crescent Moon Lake. The Crescent Moon Lake is a beautiful oasis in the desert, surrounded by numerous sand dunes. I was awestruck by the size of those sund dunes that reached the oustanding height of 250 meters and to the bottom of those enormous dunes lied that tiny lake and a beautiful pagoda. A pagoda in traditional Han Chinese architecture, but not very much authentic as it was surrounded by souvenir stalls and hordes of tourists besieging the place that took well off that magical ambiance that would otherwise encase the entire area. I ... read more
 Great people
 Camel ride

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang July 29th 2015

As one of the iconic towns along the Silk Road Dunhuang is incredibly popular, as the thousands upon thousands of domestic tourists proved to us. It's easy to see why so many people make the long journey out here, the sights are quite special. First up for us was the Mogao Caves, or at least that was the plan. We knew there is a limit of 6000 visitors per day, and that tickets sold out quickly, but were taken aback when we got to the ticket office on Friday evening to be told there were no tickets at all for the next several days - more days than we were staying, merde !! There was one option left - what are called "emergency tickets". We had no idea what these were but could buy 2 for ... read more
Mogao Caves
Yadan National Park
Yadan National Park

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang June 27th 2015

Dunhuang was never on our original itinerary, infact we had never even heard of it before arriving in China. We only heard or rather seen pictures of it from our Korean dorm mate back in Xingping. As he swiped through pictures of this desert - A desert. In China!! - clear blue skies, standing on a mountain of sand with what looked like an oasis in the background. We were in awe, China's diverse scenery never fails to amaze. We said to ourselves "maybe we could squeeze this in our itinerary somehow" We couldn't believe our luck, looking at the map of China it actually seemed possible. A reroute here, take a day off there, we were going to the desert. Roll on the 23 hour train ride. Side note: 23 hours on a train is ... read more
The impressive Magao caves
Camels in the desert
Climbing the sandy ridge

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang August 10th 2014

We arrived in the brand new Dunhuang Railway station in the early hrs of the morning, and we're delighted to see a pickup board with our name on from the Dunhuang International Youth Hostel -our 2nd YH on our trip. A short drive into Dunhuang city - one of the nicest little Chinese desert city that we've been in. This place is hot and drip - apparently they get annual rainfall of 39 m !! That's a bout one good overnight rain in Auckland. Two main attractions in Dunhuang are the sand dunes, and the Magao Caves, so it was off the view the Sand Dunes from the roof top bar of the Silk Road Hotel . 6kms south of the city - where the Gobi desert meets city, are stunning Sand Dunes that reach at ... read more
MingSha sand Dunes
More sand
Cool beer overlooking the sands

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