Marco Polo and other Silk Road travelers may have used camels in the past, but this is the new China. Now, visitors to the Mingsha Dunes in Dunhuang can get around on camel, dune buggies, or even an ultra-light aircraft (seen in the above picture. D90, 70-300mm VR, Vivid, Daylight WB).
Yes, this far west outpost in the Gobi Desert, home to the famous Mogao Caves of Buddhist art and carvings (no photos allowed inside, thank you very much!), is another place, like Lijiang, that is catering to the surging domestic tourist business.
It’s also the first place where we’ve seen sun and blue skies since….well, since I don’t know when. What is that yellow orb in the sky? It appears to emit heat and light….strange.
Our hotel is really nice and the staff is super attentive and well trained. This is not the China I knew. But there’s still some polishing to be done. When I checked into my room, there was a charming handwritten note in English from the maid, welcoming me and ending with this: “I look forward to severing you in the next few days.”
I’m sure she meant “serving you.” (But just in case she didn’t, remind me to use the deadbolt in my door while I’m here).
And hit the jump for some more pix….
Above. more dunes (see the little hikers?) and an abandoned cart near a museum complex. Below, the Mogao Caves entrance, and our intrepid crew on a camel safari through the Mingsha Dunes. D90, 12-24mm (cart), 16-85mmVR (cave front) and 70-300mm VR lenses (all others). Vivid JPeg. SinghRay LB Color Combo Polarizer on cart and cave front pix.
Next stop: Mongolia and more of the northern Gobi Desert. Provided of course, that the sandstorm that hit us this morning clears and the plane can land! We’re three hours delayed so far and no end to the storm in sight.
Some hazards of Silk Road travel, including sandstorms, can foil modern travelers just the way they did back in Marco Polo’s day. I’ll keep you posted….