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-Silk Road Adventure 09

Our Silk Road Adventure 2009

Participants: Evely's Group
Numbers: 5 people
Trip Date: 31st March -12th April 2009
Written by: Evelyn Roberts

This was our fifth consecutive year travelling to China with the SCIC Beijing. It was also the first time that one of their groups had travelled along the Silk Road. So I decided to write a newsletter to give some feedback to other potential travellers.

Over the pass four years we have been to Beijing, Shaolin Temple, Wudang Mountains, Xian Terracotta Warriors, Yunnan, Lijiang, Shangri-la, Suzhou and Guilin. We had journeyed to most of the places on our list with the exception of the Silk Road and the Yangtze River. So it was time to but this right and travel along the Silk Road first then on to the Yangtze.



SCIC Group on Silk Road Adventure 09

                                    First Attraction in Dunhuan

The Silk Road excursion took us to Dunhuan, a trading town for the Silk Road in ancient times. We then travelled to Turpan and Urumqi, the capital of the Xingjang region.

Before our Silk Road adventure we spent three days on a TCM course (Traditional Chinese Medicine) in Beijing. This was our third course and we always find it very interesting. Itís also a good way of recovering from the jetlag before starting your travels again.

We met our guide, Andong, for the Silk Road upon arriving at Dunhuan airport. Andong proved to be an excellent guide and made the trip both enjoyable and interesting with his extensive knowledge of the road and his perception of peoples needs.

The journey itself was packed and although we did not travel to Kashar the time allowed for the trip gave us little to no time for chilling out. If we were not sightseeing we were journeying on to the next destination.

An extra free day in Turpan on the day of arrival after the over night train journey would have been ideal. The hotel there had a wonderful aspect looking over a manmade water area and promenade. There are many shops and restaurants close by and the people of Turpan are very friendly. This would have been a nice place to have had a free day. Particularly if the guide could have organised an evening meal after everyone had had the day to rest and stroll around.

The trip should include the final destination of Kashar in order to fully appreciate the Silk Road. However, this excursion would require more time if Kashar is added. This adventure is a demanding one with all the travelling involved, so if you are planning to make to trip then allow yourself enough time to enjoy each destination.

All the places that we were taken to on the Silk Road were well worth the visit. The hotels were all of a good standard and although this trip may be expensive and with the extra journey to Kashar even more so, it is a good value trip and one that should be completed by everyone who is truly interested in Chinese culture. If you are not so inclined and only wish a standard sightseeing holiday of China, then this trip may not be for you.




A local Market in Turpan

Tasting Local Musilim Food

Friendly Village People

The only downside of this trip was our wait for the overnight train. The train station we needed is not situated in a major town. We were driven from the Yulin Grottoes to the town where the station is located. There we spent an afternoon walking around on our own in this town consisting of one small main street surrounded by wide open spaces. This is a very poor area of China so apart from a few shops selling agricultural items and a couple of small supermarkets and a small number of places to eat and drink, there is nothing else.

We spoke to the guide that evening and asked him why we arrive so early at a place that has nothing to offer except a train station. He told us that time had to be allowed for the drive from the Yulin Grottoes to the station in case of a break down or bad weather conditions. Which brings me to another point, the weather is unpredictable and depending on when you go sand storms and very strong winds can be a problem. There was a wind blowing all of the time we were there and at one point we just missed being caught in a big sand storm that stopped all forms of travel for a few hours. It was also surprisingly hot for what we expected in early April, in fact at times hotter than most of our summers in England. The average temperature being around the 27c mark but you still need a coat in open areas because of the strong wind. The wind and sand can make for a breathing problem so take a mask and eye goggles with you just in case you need them. 

If you are able to make a longer holiday of the Silk Road then extra time should be taken in Urumqi with the guide. Urumqi has more to offer and our time there was limited. Perhaps, you would enjoy walking around its bazaar?  Anyway, this was another sucessful trip for us and we all enjoyed the adventure. 


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