One sand dune too far

Dunhuang Travel Blog

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Street vendors in the touristy town of Dunhuang

<<< for previous travelogues please read my Central Asia - Silk Roads blog >>>

Dunhuang is most famous for the Mogao grottoes and the sand dunes. The warnings in the guidebooks about camera's and the guide system are all true. Luckily for me there were not that many English speaking tourist so we had a party of 9. That gave us the oppertunity to see one of the smaller caves that is normally closed for the public because it is too small. As our guide said: "A gift from the people's republic of China on national day to you". The cave was stunning, better and far more richer than any of the big caves I had seen so far. I don't remember the cave number anymore but the guide said this is the most beautifull cave of them all.

After the cultural outing it is time to do some outdoor activity such as climbing a sanddune.

Only outside the Mogao Caves I was allowed to take pictures, do here are some silly pictures from outside
At Shirley's cafe I meet Martin, an Austrian guy, and we decide to climb the dunes together. As fatih wants it, he will be in Lhasa around the same time as me and also wants to do the Mt Kalaish tour. So after some hints from two British girls, whom I also met in Samarkand (they almost do the same route as me, so we're bound to meet up somewhere) we turn left in front of the entrance. Unlucky for us we get noticed immediately and we pretend to be stupid and point to the old jetfighter in the dessert. The Chinese man keeps watching us, so we head back.

This time we decide to go right in front of the entrance and after a brisk walk of 30 minutes we see the sand dunes looming. Martin scrambles and starts climbing the steepest dune he can find.
This dune nearly killed me.
I try to follow suit, but forget that I still have a cold, come from a very very flat country with no mountains and he just lives his entire life in the Alps. After some 100 meters of speed climbing I give up and need a time-out as I were seeing sparkles all around me. Martin is already on top of the rug of the dune and points to me that there is a path on the rug of the dune. After some great effort, I think I nearly died there 8 times, I also reach the rug and see that we took the wrong approach as there is a proper path to the top of the dune.

Nonetheless the view on top of the Dune is magnificent! We see the cresent moon lake and all the Chinese tourist. We just want to see the sunset hoping for a good photo opportunity. It could have been so nice if it weren't for those 1715m high dunes blocking the sun, we were on one of these giants. Going down is much much more easier than going up, take a steep part just run off it straight down.

Tomorrow I'm off to Golmud to obtain a train ticket to Lhasa.

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Street vendors in the touristy tow…
Street vendors in the touristy to…
Only outside the Mogao Caves I was…
Only outside the Mogao Caves I wa…
This dune nearly killed me.
This dune nearly killed me.
These were not shot in the caves b…
These were not shot in the caves …
The tourist trap; The mighty sand …
The tourist trap; The mighty sand…
The crescent shape moon lake
The crescent shape moon lake
It gets a nice orange glow when th…
It gets a nice orange glow when t…
Dunhuang
photo by: Deats