Mogao Caves


The rising sun highlighted the sculptured sand visible from the terrace breakfast area. With a high of 37 degrees, 99 Fahrenheit predicted, we were happy to be touring the Magao Caves, and visiting in the morning.

Built from the 4th to 8th centuries, the Magao Caves, the most famous caves in China, feature Buddhist wall paintings and clay over wood and straw sculptures. For one and a half centuries, these works of art have been preserved by the desert climate. Now the preservation effort is being helped by enclosure of the roof and entry openings that were open for centuries. Red color from ochre, blue from Afghanistan lapis, and green from Marrakesh have endured amazingly well. No photos inside the caves were allowed, helping to retain the colors for enjoyment by future generations. At 35 meters, the tallest indoor Buddha is found in one cave. He was huge. Each foot was the size of a 14′ fishing boat. As we exited the site, a “flying angel,” one who would guide a person to nirvana, was permanently posed.

During our bus ride back to the Silk Road Hotel, we passed many grape arbors. This is a significant wine region. A young lady wearing silk welcomed us back “home.”

We’ve really enjoyed our stay in Dunhuang and at the Silk Road Hotel. Each time we wash our hands, we’ll remember this great experience as we use the camel decorated hand towels we purchased here.

Batik, using a 27 step process, is a popular art form in this area. Assuming it survives 7,000 miles in my pannier, this camel train batik will find its new home in Georgia.

We’ve thrived on Chinese cuisine for nearly a month. The draw of a Western-Style restaurant and the fact that it was located on the same roof top terrace where we enjoyed breakfast was irresistible. Another interesting translation was that the menu was titled “Cookbook.”

Larry & I were not the only ones smitten with this place and the aura of camels: Mick dressed up his beat-up motorcycle with one. I’ll bet after the rest of the trip, the furry camel may look as tough as his bike!

26 Jun Dunhuang rest day

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One Response to “Mogao Caves”

  1. Dale and Cindy Leppo says:

    Cathy and Larry, This is the part of the “Expedition” that I found most compelling from the pre-trip plan and it sounds like you are enjoying it! I once rode with a VRF750 that looked like Mick’s bike. We were in Italy and they told us it would take a month to get Honda parts so we used LOTS of duct tape to hold it (kind of) together. Safe and fun travels to all! Dale and Cindy

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