Imagine the surprise and delight our group experienced upon arrival to the rooftop terrace of the Silk Road Hotel in Dunhuang, China! This resplendent view of the Singing Sand Dunes at sunset is in the heart of the exotic lands of the ancient Silk Road, on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert.
Our travels on the Silk Road from Xi'an to Kashgar were arduous but filled with adventure and exploration of the ancient pathway between the East and the West. This was the roadway for cultural transmission and exchange during the 4th to the 14th centuries.
I say "arduous" because traveling the Silk Road in western China is neither easy nor luxurious. The terrain is challenging and creature comforts like ice, air-conditioning, acceptable beds, and wine are few and far between in most destinations.
Dunhuang was an exception! This hotel was our oasis on the 10-day journey, delivering sumptuous beds/linens, cold drinks, fine wines, and indelible views. Over the course of our 2-day stay, we rode sand sleds down the majestic dunes, took a camel ride to the "authentic" oasis of Crescent Lake, and visited the Mogao Caves or "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas." Dunhuang is best known for this archaeological discovery in 1900. The Mogao Caves is a system of Buddhist cave temples filled with religious wall murals designed to assist in "devotional contemplation." Of the 600 surviving temples, 30 are currently open to the public. They are not to be missed.