We arrived in Dunhuang, which is the Wild west - it is very much a frontier town in the far western china. Directly north is Russia, and to the west is Kazhazstan (I didn't spell that right). It took us 10 hours and 45 minutes by private bus from Jiayuguan. But not all that time was spent on the bus.?We left Jiayuguan at 8:00 am, bath room break at 11:00 am (this was the first time we saw a gas station), checked out an amazing lake at 1:00 pm, pee break in the middle of the desert at 2:00 pm (yes we were desperate), blew a tire on the bus at 3:00 pm, back on the road at 3:45 pm, stopped at the most disguising toilet at 4:15 pm (yes it was just a hole in the floor).?This was the
first time we had to deal with the real chinese toilet. The men's was so bad our tour leader walked 1/2 way in and ran out. Found out at 4:20 pm that our bus driver wasn't going to our destination, but that the local tour company had planned putting us on a connecting bus.?We went from a 50 seater bus, with lots of room for our stuff, each person had 2-3 seats each to being sandwiched into a 16 seater bus (there are 13 of us, plus the new bus driver plus our packs, and day-sacks). It was very cosy. Did I mention that I am with a really wonderful bunch of people. They take the delays and chinese
changes all in stride. I'm really lucky. I was nervous going on a tour but the people attracted to an intrepid tour are very much like-minded. So at 4:45 pm we are sitting on the pavement in the strange one-horse frontier town watching the melon trucks go one way, and the cement trucks the other. (Oh did I mention that the highway we have been travelling for the last 8 hours isn't really finished!) There are moments of pavement, stretches of gravel, and miles of mud. So at 5:15 pm the mini-bus arrives, we switch over the luggage and off on the final 2 hours to Dunhuang.
Dunhuang is famous for the Maguo Grotto, which is the largest Buddhist caves in the world, over 10,000 statues, images, paintings of various Buddhas.It was amazing. This afternoon we went shopping for head-coverings.I got a lovely toquoise blue scarf. Tomorrow after a 5:00 am wake-up call we go for a camel safari and watch the sun rise over the Talikaman Desert, then back for a de-lousing, and catch a train for Turpan.?We are heading into Ugihur country, less Han chinese, and the more Muslim part of China
(hence the need to cover our heads).
Well, I'm off to meet the group. We are getting foot massages - 8 people and we get a 20% discount so if will be 68 yuan less 20% (about 6 CDN) for a 1.5 hour massage. Its a tough life - isn't it :)