After a long 23 hour train ride from Xian, we landed in Dunhuang early in the morning. We had a bit of a hotel issue which took us a few hours to resolve. We took the advice from a cab driver and ended up in a local establishment. We were glad that we had a place to stay.
Dunhuang is a small remote town which was made famous by the Mogao Grottoes. The town itself has an interesting mix of Han Chinese and the muslin minority from the west. It is definitely reflected in the faces and food around the town.
We jumped on a cab right after settling in the hotel and went straight to the dunes. It took us less than half an hour to get to the Singing Sand Mountain in the desert. The gate is opened till 10 PM every night but nobody will bother to look for you if you don’t come out. I guess there is no point since the desert covers a vast area.
At 5600 feet above sea level, hiking up the sand dunes turned out to be a lot harder than it looks. Wearing these bright orange cotton overall for your feet and legs help you to navigate in the sand. You have a choice of riding the camels or ATVs if you are not inclined to walk. We chose to do the long hikes.
Next to the Singing Sand Mountain is the oasis called Crescent Moon Lake. It is a freak in nature that this lake never dries up. Hiking to the top of the dune for the ariel view of the lake and the nested structure is worth all the pain. We waited patiently for the sunset before heading back out. The sky turned dark very quickly in the desert and we wanted to make sure that we could get out safely.
Next stop, the Mogao caves.