Restaurants at the Dunhuang Hotel
Both the main restaurant and the small Japanese restaurant at the Dunhuang Hotel are highly recommended. Especially - sigh - for 50-course banquets involving lots of baijiu. However, do take care as we discovered that we had eaten dog one evening. Some people aren't bothered by this, but it could ruin some people's holiday!
We wake up at 9:30. We have slept in 4 beds compartments, comfortable and clean. The train goes on slowly, tooooo slowly. The landscape is monotonous, desperatly desertic.
We have breakfast at 11: bread, boiled egg and tea. Lunch will be at 14. In the meanwhile, we try to read something.
We arrive in Dunhuang at 15:15. A bus takes us to the city after other 3 hours. Here you can still see chinese people dressed up in the typical "Mao" dresses, in blue, blue cap and black shoes.
As we arrive in Dunhuang, we discover that the "organization" has changed the hotel we were going to stay in (Dunhuang Hotel), and we have to go to a worse one. We are tired, fed up, and decide to go for a little strike. We sit all together at the lobby of the hotel we were supposed to go to. It's about 19:00. The chinese are very patient people. Nothing happens till 2:00 in the morning, when they offer us to go to a 3rd hotel (in between the 2 first ones) just for tonite. We are so tired! For tomorrow we are promised a room at the Dunhuang Hotel
Tourist's Strike in the hall of the Hotel
We haven't slept much, it's been a short night. For breakfast we go to our "promised land": Hotel Dunhuang.
In the morning we go to visit the Mogao Caves (492 grottoes, 4yh-14th century, 25 km southeast of Dunhuang). Most of this buddhist caves are now closed with metallic gates, and they have built external corridors for the tourists.
We go back to the hotel for lunch. At 14:00 we go back to the caves. The opening times are a bit peculiar: 9-11 and 14-17. Most of the caves have paintings and statues inside. The earlier ones are from the Tang Dinasty (VIII Cent), the 2nd ones are from the Qing Dinasty (XIX Cent). Most of them are restored. Some are diaphanous, and some have a central pillar around which you are supposed to turn, in order to pray.
After dinner we go and see the Howling Dunes, in a camel ride from the town. There is a huge group of japanese there. The dunes are quite high, it takes a lot to climb. I do it barefoot. The sunset from the top is wonderful.
At night we take a walk by the city. We see a lot of street restaurants, people eating at terraces, dancings... They dance a kind of popular waltz.
This night we finally go to the Dunhuang Hotel!!
On a camel to the Dunes
In the morning we go to see an ancient pagoda and after that we go to the Historic Dunhuang Museum. Here you can find the remains of the Han wall (the original one). We make some shopping around till lunch time. As you go out the "Dunhuang Hotel", if you turn left, there's a street full of souvenir shops.
After lunch (15.30) we leave for the airport, which is very close. The plane takes 1 1/2 hour to Lanzhou. A bus picks us up there and takes us to the city, 2 hours away. In the way we see a lot of bricks factories (the land is red, clay style) and petroleum factories. Around the city there is an important "industrial belt". We are taken to the Jincheng Hotel. Jincheng was the old name for Lanzhou. We have dinner and go out for a walk.
A view of Lanzhou from the Park of the White Pagoda
Today we'll take a ride by the Huang-Tze (Yellow River) and the Bingling Temple Grottes.
We start by bus, it takes half an hour to get out of the city (more than 30 kms of suburbs). After 2 hours we reach a pond, where we take a "touristic boat" up the river (3 hours). The waters are yellowish, due to the mud and minerals. We stop at the entrance of a minor branch of the river, where the caves are. The boat uses to enter this branch, but the waters are low now.
The first glimpse you catch from the caves is a Giant Buda, 17 meters high. There are thousands of little caves, some of them just 1 meter heigth. You can only access the lower ones, but if you pay 30 USD you can visit the "closed ones". The way back to the bus takes us another 3 hours. The sun is very strong now. We go back to the Hotel.
A ride on the Yellow River