A local chamber of tourism, the Xinjiang Chamber of Tourism, has been set up under the supervision of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Federation of Industry and Commerce.
The chamber will provide enterprises with information services, capital, and exchange; it will organize investigations of areas with advanced tourism industries; and it will invite experts to conduct training lessons to improve quality of staff in local tourism enterprises. In the meantime, the Xinjiang Chamber of Tourism will organize ad-hoc investment symposia to look for broader markets. As well as benefiting tourism enterprises by planning more tourism activities, it will also offer more options for tourists.
This is a platform for exchanges between enterprises and between enterprise and the government. Currently the chamber has 110 member enterprises, including travel agencies, tourist bus fleets, scenic spots, hotels, and the media.
It was a hot day of driving (around 9hrs) and late in the afternoon we rolled into Dunhuang. We bought a tour to have silk road adventure from a online travel agent in china. Dunhuang is a regional centre that is the launching point for the Magao Caves. The caves are Budhist caves that housed many well preserved frescoes and sculptures. The British archeologist – Auriel Stein – came across them in the early 20th Century and managed to convince the Monk to sell him thousands of manuscripts. Those manuscripts are still in the British Museum despite Chinas attempts to have them returned. That was all information for the next few days. When we first arrived we were simply interested in the hot shower and the promise of banana pancakes (yes the food of travellers all around the world!) at Jon’s cafe.
We went out to see the caves yesterday – they were awesome! You weren’t allowed to take photos inside the caves – so I just got shots of the entrance. The first cave was a 35m Buddha and there were many well preserved frescoes from the 6th Century AD (and then others had modern renovations …. in the 11th Century!). We had a really good guide – so I really enjoyed looking around.
The afternoon was free time. The silk road tour is near to be finished. Today, also, has nothing planned. We have tried to catch up on Olympics viewing. We can’t forget the experience of this travel to silk road in China. I am seeing more of the Table Tennis, Badminton, Pistol Shooting and Weightlifting than I have ever seem before! It is wierd only seeing a small amount of swimming (when China wins).
Dunhuang is famous for the Mogao Grottoes. That’s the main reason why we booked silk road travel service in China. And the this silk road tour we had was brilliant. The caves are full of Buddhist paintings and sculptures. (No photos were allowed). Since we are getting closer to central Asia, the influence from India and Europe can be seen in the pictures. There are some Indian Budhhas and some Chinese ones too. You can even see the cross as Christianity was introduced from Europe. The caves were started in about 400AD.
The other cool thing we saw was Jaiuyguan fort. The fort was at the very end of the Great Wall. It even had a “banishing gate”! We went out the gate to see what is was like. I think you might have been better off to have your head chopped off. Enemies and a huge desert were the only things to be seen out of the banishing gate…
We also stopped in a town called Wuwei. That’s where the Flying Horse was found. Nope, no wings! But, the horse rides on the back of a swallow. There was a number of bronze statues found in a tomb and the flying horse was one of them. We got to walk into the tomb. It was a bit eerie.. Kwesi almost didn’t fit.
Last night we had a wonderful meal in the night market. We got to sit in reclining chairs and everything! Meghan had meat skewers and Kwesi had the fish. Kwesi seems to be enjoying his fish lately. Last night he choose the fish from the tank and had to watch the lady whack it on the head and gut it! Right there. Bent down, on the street. The fish was cooked on the grill and seasoned. Kwesi then proceeded to eat the fish (skin, bones etc)! At least he didn’t eat the head.
Most of us on the truck are divided into 4 cook groups of 4 people each. Thankfully there are at least 2 girls in each… (Kwesi managed to wangle out of the cook group by having the daily job of loading all the luggage into the back locker! Not sure who really wins in that scenario).
Cook groups are responsible for cooking dinner, breakfast and lunch. Each cook group has 550 yuan to buy all the food required from any source. There are 23 people to prepare food for. Shopping is an interesting experience. Vegetables are easy enough to find (it’s summer!) and a tomatoe is a tomatoe. However, meat is an issue and spices (that we recognize) are non-existant.
We stopped on the side of the road to take this pictures. Someplace in NW China. This silk road adventure remind us a lot of things about china. Tours to Silk Road will be challengeable for most people. Nothing like going to the “jar aisle” of a supermarket and not knowing what a single item is!