21st May – Dunhuang

Our alarm goes off at 5 am and we drag ourselves out of bed, dress and walk back to the sand dunes as the gates open at 6 am for sunrise at 6:30.

Once inside we make our way straight to the camel booking office & book our camel trek up to the top of the sand dunes.  We are put at the end of a group of  Chinese people with a toddler.

Michael is even prepared for a sand storm!

It takes half an hour for us to get to our rest area, where the camels have a sit or lay down and we wander around watching people go on quad bike rides through the dunes or rubber ring rides down the dune.  We decline all these fun activities as we don’t want to risk jarring our back or twisting a knee as we have a long way to travel still.

The sunrise is a non event, but it’s lovely & cool and relaxing taking in the sights for half an hour.

We mount up again and the camels take us back down to the bottom of the sand dunes so we can head back to the hotel for breakfast & a shower.

This afternoon we first visit the theatre and watch 2 movies, the first one is the story of China defending their borders against the invading hordes.

The second movie is in a dome theatre which is very effective. This movie is about the Mogao caves and how they were constructed, with images of the wonderful murals on the walls of the caves.

After the movies we go by bus to visit the Mogao caves which date back over 1,650 years,  They are a group of Buddhist caves that have some original statues and murals in excellent unrestored condition. Unfortunately we aren’t allowed to take photos inside the caves.  There is 1 Buddha in cave 96 that stand 35.5 metres high that is quite impressive.

There is a library that contained thousands of scrolls and books that had been sealed up and wasn’t discovered until the early 1900’s by a Taoist priest named Wang Yuanlu who sold most of them to foreign travellers and they now reside in museums around the world, with very few of them in China.

Tonight 3 of us & Green go to see a play about Dunhuang and the Silk Road, that tells the story through many dynasties, of the Mogao caves, through the many characters.  It is a wonderfully different production that is full of fabulous visual effects and although it is in Chinese we are able to understand it as we’ve been told the history by our guides.  The 100’s of actors in the play express the character that they play so well we don’t really need any interpretation.  We are fortunate enough to have VIP tickets.

It is an absolutely fantastic production and we are so pleased that we have seen it.

The Taoist priest Wang Yuanlu is fabulous.

The Buddha’s of the Mogao caves dancing is a wonderful spectacle.


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