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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 » Jiayuguan July 23rd 2015

We've made it to Jiayuguan, the mouth of China and the westernmost point of the Great Wall. This is the 2nd of our slightly longer stops, this time for it's longer for immigration reasons. We're going to be in China for ~40 days so need to extend our visas which are only valid for 30. This is a fairly straightforward, if Big Brotherish, process that works much more smoothly and quickly in small towns than big cities, that was certainly our experience here - applied on Tuesday afternoon picked up new visas Friday morning, we're now OK until late August. The sights here are a mixed bag. The Wei Jin Tombs are smallest and least popular but were our favourite, while the two biggest and most crowded - the Jiayuguan Fort and the Overhanging Great Wall ... read more
Un-restored Great Wall
Heavily Restored Fort and Power Station
Photo Studio for Visa Extension

Asia » China » Gansu » Zhangye July 21st 2015

Since leaving Hong Kong we've felt a bit rushed for quite a lot of the time. Booking trains and hotels in the high season takes more advanced planning than we're used to, especially in and between Shanghai, Beijing and Xi'an. We then had a couple of one night stays after longish journeys. So we're now going to have at least a couple of stops that are a day or two longer than they need to be for the things we're going to see. The first of these is Zhangye. We were happy to see the back of Lanzhou and leaving from the massive, new, almost empty West Station (more platforms (25) than daily departures (13)) was a pleasure. We had no idea that the journey over and through the Qilian Mountains was going to be so ... read more
Danxia Geo Park
Danxia Geo Park
Danxia Geo Park

Asia » China » Gansu » Xiahe July 16th 2015

Xiahe is just under 3000m above sea level and even in the middle of July it's cold at night or when the sun isn't shining. It was quite a shock getting off the bus from Lanzhou where it had been 30c when we left a bit over 3 hours earlier. Apart from the cold and wind the first thing that struck us was the similarity in looks and dress between the Tibetans living up here and the Andean peoples we'd come across in South America - it's startling to see how alike two groups of people separated by half a world can be. The Labrang Monastery is the must see place. It's one of the six major Tibetan monasteries of the Yellow Hat Sect. It has 1800 monks and nuns and spreads over quite a big ... read more
At the Top of a Temple
Spinning the Prayer Wheels on the Kora
Spinning the Prayer Wheels on the Kora

Asia » China » Gansu » TianShui July 15th 2015

The MaijiShan Grottoes are the only reason to come to TianShui, but they're a good enough reason to make the journey. For the first time on this trip we're getting the feeling of being a bit off the beaten track. Nobody speaks English, there are no English menus, though Atsuko can read enough for us to have a guess at what we're getting. As has nearly always been the case wherever we've been people go out of their way to help. We're also a bit of an attraction and get people staring and quite a few students wanting to have their photo taken with us.... read more
Gallery
Local Noodle Speciality, All This For CNY18
Local Noodle Speciality, All This For CNY18

Asia » China » Gansu » Xiahe June 29th 2015

Oh Xiahe. A place in China that had so much character and proved to be one of our favourite places in China despite it being the least Chinese place we had visited. Thats not saying much about China is it? On the contrary we really enjoyed our time spent in China. This was just one of our favourites. Writing this as we leave the Gansu province makes us feel a little sad as we sure will miss this place and do hope to return one day. Pronounced Shaarr-huh, the 'huh' part said with a real american football player sound, almost from the depths of your stomach. We found this place when looking for places in China off the beaten track when reading about China in Hong Kong. We came across a blog written by a girl ... read more
The sandy colours of the monastery
Atmospheric lanes within the monastery
Peek-a-boo

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 » Baiyin January 21st 2015

19 janvier 2015 : Lever à 7h00 puis petit déjeuner. A 8h45, la navette de l'hôtel nous récupère et nous emmène à l'a&roport. Il ne nous faut que huit minutes pour y arriver mais heureusement que nous sommes venus tôt car il y a un monde fou. Nous allons prendre un A380 de China Southern qui contient un peu plus de 500 passagers et il est plein. Nous décollons de Sydney à 11h25 et arrivons à Guangzhou (le nom chinois de Canton) à 21h00 (heure de Sydney). nous réglons nos montres sur 18h00 (heure de Canton) après 6233 miles, soit 10016 kilomètres. Nous avons notre vol pour Paris à 23h20 ce qui nous fait un peu plus de cinq heures dans cet aéroport. Nous décollons avec une demie-heure de retard et arrivons à Paris à 12h30 ... read more
SYDNEY
SYDNEY
CANTON

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

Asia » China » Gansu » Lanzhou August 7th 2014

Leaving Xiahe today back to Lanzhou to catch train to Dunhuang. But first we wanted to visit the Bingling Si grottoes, a collection of carvings and frescoes and statues from the Han and Ming Dynasty. Trusty driver roared off in usual fervour and few hrs later we were at the boat launching place on the side of the lingshuia reservoir. Into the little speed boat and a 30 min race across the waters to the remote location where 'they' discovered this amazing site. Dodging the souvenir sellers and the restaurant touts we ventured into the chasm where the frescoes were. The caves were first cut In 420AD and continued for a thousand yrs after. There are 216 cave niches and one massive carved Buddha , about a thousand metres of mural paintings, and fifty pagodas. The ... read more
BingLing Si Reservoir - jetty
BingLing Si
BingLing Si Buddhist Grottos




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