Day 32

1. June 2000, Hami to Dunhuang

Our route still keeps on changing between desert towns and oasis and we are wondering whether it will ever end. The oasis towns are becoming more frequent now, though.
Today we were leaving the Xianjiang province and entering the Gansu province, at the border we were ceremonially "handed over" to the new province governor. The culture and the people are now more Buddhist as before they were Muslim. We are staying in the oasis town of Dunhuang, close by are the caves of Mogao which are a magnificent sight to see. Hundreds of colourfully painted caves with sculptures: Buddha in its different states, flying angels, Buddha's disciples, tigers, horses, etc. Probably due to this treasure, Dunhuang is the first Chinese city on our route which seems slightly more "touristic", although there are not many Western tourists around.

TC 95: Hami OUT
PC: Gansu
TC 96: Dunhuang IN
51 416.95 km

Overall 1 hour 10 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

How long 'til Beijing? Milestones on the road give us the exact information - 3346 km

Desert in the West, 200 km further lies Lop Nur, the nuclear bomb test area of China.

The number of oasis towns increases

The Mogao caves, a wonderful treasure of Chinese-Buddhist heritage. 492 caves have been carved into stone and painted with colorful Buddhist motives and adorned with sculptures. The first of these caves were begun in the fourth century and the work was continued for a thousand years. The caves contain the 2nd largest Buddha sculpture in China (32 m), 45000 square metres of wallpaintings and 2000 painted clay sculptures. A sight worth seeing but with no possibility of photography, therefore we can only offer this view from outside (the structure built around the caves is new to protect the caves from theft, etc.)


Shortly before leaving Xianjiang province and entering Gansu province

Remains of the "Great Wall", the former border of China at its furthest West.

Another one of those reroutes through the dessert due to construction work, albeit a short one.

Our hotel: A newly-built "palace" in the middle of the dessert (just outside of Dunhuang) with large sand dunes in the background. The sand dunes are sometimes used for sand-sledding (!?). A rare and bizarre sight to see a hotel like this on our route so far and we were wondering who normally fills up the rooms.