Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 7 - Mogao Groettes, Great Walls and Passes

Today we spent the day sightseeing. 
In the morning we went to the Mogao Grottoes which are caves in the sand dunes. Buddhist travel monks, who came here mainly from Tibet, used these caves for painting, sculpture, and lecture. All in all there were almost around 300 caves of all sizes. 
It was pretty neat to see the painting and the sculptures, each symbolizing an aspect of Buddhism that that monk taught, meditated by, or believed in. There was one cave that had a 36 feet tall Buddha statue in it so when we were standing at its feet, one could barely see the top of the head. Apparently this was the third largest Buddhist statue in the world.
After the Mogao Grottoes they took us to another part of the Great Wall. This part was over 2,000 years old and dated back to the Han Dynasty. It was pretty cool to see, even after 2,000 years of history and erosion, what was left of the Han Dynasty wall. The remains weren't much, but every time I am amazed at the history that lies behind it all. 
We also visited the Yumen Pass which is where merchants and travelers had to pass in order to enter into China from Mongolia. Now the only thing that remains is the huge rock, but I believe in ancient times, the walls were constructed around it and this was the only way for merchants to pass.

It was freezing today. It felt as if the temperature dropped over twenty degrees and nobody was prepared for it. I guess since we were in the desert, the temperature does tend to do that. 

That night we had another train ride ahead, but we didn't mind, we were starting to get used to it all. 

If you didn't get to close to anyone and you were able to get a few hours of sleep, you did pretty good. 
It was an interesting day and I think seeing history is always fascinating, much better than any history book. 

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