and Spencer Go to Xinjiang, China
or 10 Days West of Fast Food
Gansu Province, July 26-27, 2001:
We had planned only one day to tour Dunhuang. This town is famous
for three things:
a. The Grottoes of One Thousand Buddhas
It served also as a good lesson why American tourists
should try to be well informed before coming to China. Our tourguide
in this town, as in all the others, was a government employee who main
job is to provide a bright picture of China and make sure we shop at least
once in the overpriced, government owned "Friendship Stores". He
did not know until I told him about the location of the Great Wall in that
area or of the Silk Road connection.
b. The Great Wall of China ends here
c. This is the location of the joining of
the north and south routes of the Silk Road.
|The guide took us to see the Grottoes only to hand
us over to another tour guide whose English was better and knowledge slightly
better. She showed us about 20 of the 1,000 grottoes. When
I asked about what damage the Red Guards may have done during the Cultural
Revolution, she said only that they had done no damage because they appreciated
the value of the grottoes! Since the whole point of the Revolution
was to eradicate cultural features such as this one, I was a little skeptical.
Later we found out that heavy damage had been done
by the Red Guards to hundreds of the grottoes not open to tourists.
In fairness, European explorers and one American archeologist had also
participated in removing parts of the grottoes early in the 20th Century
including taking priceless documents. There was a joint team of American
and Chinese college students on the site restoring several of the grottoes.
STANDING IN FRONT OF THE LARGEST
OF THE GROTTOES. THIS STRUCTURE COVERS A 35 m TALL BUDDHA, THE SECOND
TALLEST IN THE WORLD
||This website contains a lot of pictures of China
that may give the impression that it is pretty throughout. While
much of the scenery is spectacular, much is not. Environmental damage,
trash, soot, pollution, and other junk can be seen all over the desert
and in the cities.
Dunhuang was probably the nicest, most prosperous
small city we saw in China, but it's outskirts and those of Urumqi, Shanghai,
and Beijing all have scenes such as this one to the left.
|The final stop on our China tour would be Beijing.
Neil, Larry, and I had been there before, but Spencer could not come all
this way and not see the Great Wall. So, after 1 day and night in
Dunhuang, we were off to Beijing.