A trip to the Wild West: A Day in Dunhuang

It is alright if you haven’t heard of the Yellow Stone National Park in the U.S., but it is almost guilty if you don’t know about Dunhuang of Gansu Province in northwest China. OK, I admit I am exaggerating here, but centuries of Buddhist caving paintings, statues and the Buddhist scriptures discovered in one of the caves make this place a world-renowned travel destination.

The Nine-level Tower Houses a Giant Buddha Statue

Photos are strictly forbidden in and outside the caves. In my visit, and I saw a stubborn American woman who refused to temporarily keep her camera in the janitors room, despite persuasions of her friends, and didn’t go into the caves! She never knew what she had missed.

Accessing the Caving Painting in Mount Mogao is easy: taxi fee is about three bucks from the railway station, and cheap bus rides are available right across the Dunhuang Railway Station. The ticket is about 25 bucks at the time of my visit and the guided tour in English is provided. Among my encounters with other tour groups, there was one guide whose English is sufficient to explain the prepared tour texts, but the other two guides needed more practice. But I guess this shouldn’t be a problem for foreign visitors since almost every one of them has a travel book, in which it lavishes a lot of page space on this famous place. However, I do have a kind reminder for you: if you plan to visit Dunhuang in just one day, which is enough for the place, it is advisable to buy your train ticket to the next destination right after you arrive at the railway station. After that, you can either visit the Cave Paintings or the Crescent Moon Spring, and the return to the railway station in the evening to catch your train.

When lining up in front of the ticket window, you are most likely to notice that the queue doesn’t move forward much. This is because the evil touts (scalpers) work in cohorts with the ticket clerks inside, and they just keep buying and reselling the tickets right in front of the ticket window. Salute to the Chinese girl I saw in the queue who started a fight with a touts for their dirty dealings under the table. She may not see this, but here is my word of salute to her anyway.

Here are some photos taken in Dunhuang:

Very impressive Dunhuang Raiway Station


This should be what the Caves Look like Originally


Fortified Caves You will See


The Tall Sand Dunes (I am proud I climbed up all the way up)


The Crescent Moon Spring in the Desert


Sand-sliding


Does this remind you of the last scene in the movie the Seventh Seal?

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