To Dunhuang, home of Mogao Caves and more

Dunhuang Travel Blog

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A telco tower by the road. Cell phone reception was excellent in most of China.
We took the long distance bus today from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang. The journey took about 5 hours, with a couple of stops on the way. The bus was not very spacious, so if you have long legs you may feel cramped. It was interesting to see how the driver lets people off the bus at random places if they asked for it.

After I got up this morning, I got a call from our driver, who had just picked up 3 German lady tourists and had handed his phone to one of them so I could speak to her in English. At first she couldn't figure out who I was or why she was talking to me. I explained the tour he took us on the day before, and why I was playing translator.
People riding bicycles just outside of Dunhuang
They had wanted to be taken to a different hotel from mine, but changed their mind to come to my hotel. I met them in the lobby when I went to have my breakfast. And I explained again what we toured, they then decided that they would just do it and get on the bus to Dunhuang like we were doing, but on a later bus after seeing the sights. This turned out to be a blessing, although the initial fault was also perhaps caused by them. Since my driver had to take them on the tour, I had to rush to check out so he can take me to the bus stop first. and during that process, I forgot my laptop power cord at the room!

I went to the bus station, and after a little bit of pool (snookers) by myself, our bus started boarding and we got on our bus for Dunhuang.
The sky was clearer today than yesterday, and we traveled through the desert of Hexi Corridor on a national highway for the most part, which was a very well paved 4 lane highway.
View of the Dunhuang train station, which did not have the train to Turpan for us. It was supposed to start in June.
Along the way, on the right side (east) is mostly desert, and the west (left) side had an occasional oasis along the Chi-lian mountain. Although we couldn't really see much of the mountain once we left Jiayuguan. The first stop was at Yumen city, where some people got off, but the bus driver thought there was a person missing, and looked all over for him/her. Eventually he gave up, and our original 10 minute stop had turned more into a half-hour stop. Second stop was at Guazhou, which was only about 1 hour away from Dunhuang. I could see some dust blowing around in the distance, but couldn't really figure out what it was.

We arrived at Dunhuang city, and the driver we had arranged through the driver in Jiayuguan was there to pick us up. Phil and Julia walked to the nearby hostel where they would be staying, while I took the taxi to a hotel further away.
On the toll plaza just outside of Dunhuang, the Olympic 2008 banners are everywhere in China.

Since I had the taxi, I went to buy the tickets for our train out of here on the evening of the 9th, only hard sleepers were available, so I had no choice but to buy them, even those were not in the same car! apparently tickets were hard to come by between Dunhuang and Turpan, and the train did not even come to Dunhuang, but to 130km away, at Liuyuan! This means we had to find a way to get to Liuyuan, either by taxi or by bus.

We arranged to meet later at my hotel and go to the Singing sand dunes and Crescent Moon Springs at dusk. However, a dust storm kicked up and pretty soon the dunes were not possible to see from town, and the plan went south from there.

After I checked in and took out my laptop (eeePC), I realized that I had forgotten its power cord in Jiayuguan, and called the hotel there.
Into the town of Dunhuang, random street scene.
They told me the cord was on the way because they had given it to one of the German ladies who were in the hotel this morning. So I called our driver and sure enough, he knew about it and indeed they were on the last bus (2:30pm) for Dunhuang. So at least I knew I would not be without the power cord for long, that was a very lucky break. But to conserve power, I did not stay online very long.

After the dust storm kicked up, I knew we had to change our plan, so went into town center to try to find Deats. We found they had checked into a different hostel than what we thought, but we did find them in another one nearby, actually right next to the bus station.  They were not in the hostel. After going  back and forth a couple of times, it was late enough that the last bus from Jiayuguan had arrived and we met the 3 German ladies again! They did have my power cord, what a relief.
Sand storm kicked up later in the afternoon in Dunhuang.
Since I couldn't find Deats, I joined the 3 ladies for dinner at our hotel, the dinner was quite tasty, and at 156 RMB (about 20 USD) for 4 people, it was not a bad deal either, even for a hotel restaurant.

Phil and I eventually connected by phone, and he told me they had met their Swedish friend Hannes, and found out that the ticket to Mogao caves cost 180RMB each, which he thought was too expensive, and he had seen many caves already in China, so they were going to pass the Mogao caves. Well, to me coming to Dunhuang without seeing Mogao cave was impossible. The most important place to see on the Silk Road for me was Mogao caves, so we decided to try to meet again tomorrow evening, and we will do our separate sight-seeing tomorrow. They also wanted to book a cheaper tour to see Yadan geological park and other sights instead of using the taxi I had by then arranged for 700RMB (which included almost 3 days of driving around, and also the 130km to the Liuyuan train station on the last evening).
Woman wearing a scarf over her head, she walked too fast for me to catch her face, but it was covered just like her back.


The 3 German ladies were here to see the Mogao caves too, so I have some new travel partners and spent the next 2 days with the German ladies instead.

we (now the we means me and the 3 German ladies) have a new plan for the morning, and we will see where we end up tomorrow based on the weather. The stars were out when we finished dinner and walked through the courtyard of the hotel. If the weather is good tomorrow we could go to Yadan national geological park  and spme sights on the way. Otherwise we would go to Mogao Caves, where the weather would not be an issue.
sylviandavid says:
That day took a surprise twist.... new travel partners and a sand storm...
Posted on: Jun 02, 2008
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A telco tower by the road. Cell ph…
A telco tower by the road. Cell p…
People riding bicycles just outsid…
People riding bicycles just outsi…
View of the Dunhuang train station…
View of the Dunhuang train statio…
On the toll plaza just outside of …
On the toll plaza just outside of…
Into the town of Dunhuang, random …
Into the town of Dunhuang, random…
Sand storm kicked up later in the …
Sand storm kicked up later in the…
Woman wearing a scarf over her hea…
Woman wearing a scarf over her he…
Map of the Dunhuang area on a goat…
Map of the Dunhuang area on a goa…
Dunhuang Hotels & Accommodations review
Great Hotel on the Silk Road at the ancient city next to the sand dunes
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel was the best hotel I stayed at during my trip from Lanzhou to Urumqi part of the Chinese Silk Road. I selected it because… read entire review
Dunhuang
photo by: Deats