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SILK ROAD – An Experience of a Lifetime

SILK ROAD – An Experience of a Lifetime

China so far has been amazing! These past two weeks especially have been filled with adventures that taught me a lot about this beautiful country and the fellow students I have had the opportunity to share this experience with. I enjoyed every single moment of the Silk Road trip and will definitely not forget these two weeks spent exploring a very different side of China and meeting new people.

Our first stop was Xi’An, a city with a history even more complex and ancient than Beijing’s. We saw the Terracotta warriors as well as biked on the Great Wall of Xi’An. The view from the wall was breathtaking and totally worth the sweating and having an aching body the next day.

After a couple of days in Xi’An, we headed to Xia’He, where we learned more about the Tibetans. A Tibetan family generously hosted a dinner for our group, which was delicious and pretty entertaining! After drinking yak milk, eating yak meat, we were offered rice wine and were presented with a hada (a long cloth worn as a scarf). We then danced and sang. It was beautiful how we were still able to have an amazing time despite the language barrier and our different cultures.
The following day, we went to the Labrang monastery, where we observed some devout monks and Buddhists perform their daily rituals. We also went on a tiring hike for an hour, but once at the top, we were glad we made it. That second night, we went on a picnic and ended it by dancing around a bonfire and partying with the Tibetan nomads again.

Next stop: Lanzhou. Unfortunately, I was sick for the whole time we were there and missed out on our visit to the Gansu provincial museum and the noodles that this city is most famous for. On our way there, however, we stopped to visit the beautiful Linxia Sichuan Mosque. We also saw the schools near the mosque and interacted with some of the children.

Dunhuang was our fourth destination. We were all pretty tired and sick by that time, to be honest, but we were all also very excited to camp and ride camels. To start the day, I, and probably most of the other students, had the best breakfast of our lives. On the rooftop of a hotel, with an extraordinary view of the sand dunes, and a buffet, we were ready to start the day! Soon enough though, it started raining. Yes, in the desert! Our tour guide told us that it was the first time in several years since it rained in Dunhuang. We were all extremely disappointed when the camping/bonfire/watching the sunrise plans were cancelled. We still went on the camel rides though, which was truly an adventure! Getting on and off a camel was actually way harder than I imagined.

We then travelled to Turpan and explored the Jiaohe Ancient City Ruins under the burning sun, but once again, it was all worth it in the end. A Ughyur family then welcomed us with some really tasty food, including grapes. They also danced and sang to their traditional music and of course, we joined them!

The Silk Road trip ended in Kashgar,a beautiful city known for the giant statue of Mao that stands at the center of it. As planned, we went to Aba Khoja Mausoleum as well as the Id Gah Mosque. What I really enjoyed about this city though, was the bazaar and the old city, which makes it completely different from the rest of China. I also loved the ferris wheel and the paddle boats, which made the last day a relaxing one.

TWO UNFORGETTABLE WEEKS is how I would best describe this trip.

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