Dunhuang Travel Blog

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They can be great - after all, you must see them. But there's always a chance they could be a bit crap. Dunhuang's must-see is the Mogao Caves, a Silk Road treasure trove of 1500-year-old Buddhist murals and statues. D thought they were the highlight of her trip so far. I thought they were a bit boring.

It took us a while to get there and to sort out a guide - you have to take a guided tour in case someone tries to steal a six-foot stone Buddha or carve AVFC into a mural. D and I went around with two Canadians who were interested in murals/statues of the Buddha showing his healing properties. "Are you doctors?" asked D. "Comlpementary therapists," they said, or something like. I resisted the urge to reply with "So that's a 'no', then."

The first cave we went in had a huge great Buddha standing there in the dark. On either side of him, the walls were carved with arhats and various patterns. Not an inch of wall was left flat. It was very, very impressive. All downhill from there pretty much. Lots of wall paintings and lots of statues but I've been looking at Buddhas for eight months and I wasn't that interested in the first place.

What I like, among other things, are impressive landscapes. And Dunhuang has those too. North of the town is Singing Sands Mountain, a sort of desert theme park with colossal sand dunes hundreds and hundreds of feet high. A real Lawrence of Arabia landscape: I was blown away. The sun was going down but it was still hot and slogging up the first dune was monumentally hard work. To the point that I didn't try the much bigger second dune. But sliding down the whole thing on a rubber ring on a sheepskin track - now that was great...

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photo by: Deats