China Blog 2011

Nirvana in the Oasis: Dunhuang

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Oasis Cafe: Dunhuang, 11/25/11
Yep, it was a long and pretty miserable train ride for Thanksgiving 2011. Not at all the leisure of jammies while Rex cooked then one of his spectacular feasts....must say there have been tears over that this week! I seriously considered flying back from here and going home early it was so uncomfortable!

But Adam was there with 18 years experience as a local guide, a great personality, and deep empathy. He and driver, Mr. Lee, took me to the Silk Road Hotel where I fell into a shower and the bed. They picked me up 4 hours later refreshed somewhat.

Hee Travel had told me the Dunhuang Museum wasn't opened yet, but it had opened Oct. 1 and Adam and I had it to ourselves, this cold November day. It was his first visit too (and I may have been the first foreigner!). A joy to hear about the displays from someone who has lived here for 6 generations and collects antique pieces found in the desert and many ruins.

Dunhuang was in its heyday from 300 BC through 1400s. Initially, it was the outpost at the edge of China with a portion of great wall nearby. Then it was where east met west, the crossroads of the Silk Road! Late in that time, 300 to 1100 or so, Buddhist monks created the Magao Caves where we'll go today and tomorrow. Hundreds of them filled to the brim with wall paintings of Buddha and sculptures. More later on what we see there. In early 20th century Aureal Stein from England and others snatched a cave full of documents to "keep safe" at the British Museum...as well as some chunks of the walls. But still much to see--just no photography inside.

After the museum, we headed to the Oasis created by Kevin Gilley and his wife from Oklahoma. Pizza with cheese imported to HongKong and then inland where he picks it up on a 14 hour train ride! And something like pepperoni! wow! Plus a real vanilla milk shake with homemade ice cream no less. Oh my! And cooool water (not boiled). Loved chatting with him as well. See photo I hope I've attached to show you I'm still out there!

Finally, though hotel spa is closed for the season (there is NO one here!), Adam took me to local massage where wild haired boy did an incredible back massage that literally healed me! He was both chiropractor and masseuse I think! Hit everything perfectly! Ahhhhhh....to say the least, I slept. Eager now to continue my adventures way out here in the Gobi Desert!