Desert Rats

Nicholas Quirke was waking for the second time in the early hours of the morning and watched daybreak over the desert scenery they had entered overnight. The train was arriving at Dnhuang just after 8 am and by the time everyone else had risen there was no opportunity for breakfast. All the bags were packed and they alighted at journey’s end in the impressive, isolated Dunhuang station. Peng had arranged for a hire car and this was dropped off at the front of the station. They drove straight to the hotel in Dunhuang and the first thing they did after two night as on a train was to shower and freshen up for their venture into the desert. It seemed the one puzzling thing for him about China was that there seemed to be no roaming rights for the people. If you wanted to enjoy mountain scenery, the desert or any of the scenic spots it was controlled and catered for. You paid an entrance fee and you could enjoy the delights but you could not just go out into the desert of your own volition and enjoy view and vista. Once again he found himself paying for a the pleasure of the view. It transpired that Peng had never ridden a camel, thus the first venture they took was a ride through the dunes on a horse of the desert. They were told no cameras or selfie stick, though as other riders in other packs were using phones they did too but they got snitched on by another of the Camel drivers and there was a short exchange. It then transpired that the leader was charging money to take a photograph of people on their rides. They did not pay. It was fun being on a Camel again and he couldn’t help but laugh when he remembered his ride in Australia with Kim and her hysteria and panic. They then set off to explore the site and began to climb the mountainous dunes. It was hard work and they used one of the rope ladders that had been laid out to ease the strain. There were many photo opportunities and when they reached a plateau and surveyed the view his breath was taken away by the sight of the peaks and valleys and the astonishing contours and forms the sand shaped its way into. They took off their shoes which, were now filled with sand and climbed to the peak barefoot. They had an amazing view of the scenery below them and a perfect perspective of the oasis of the crescent moon shaped lake and the Ming temple. They then had the fun of finding different ways to come down the mountain which, was an infinitely easier and pleasurable experience. They explored the lake, the temple and the beautiful grasses that grew around the water in the foothills of the dunes. They discovered that they had spent 5 hours exploring the scenic spot and had not eaten and before they headed back to the hotel they had a drink and some fries in a Chinese fast foot joint ‘Dicos’. The area they were staying in was famed for its ‘Night Market’ and having freshened up and rested they went out to find food. There were many snack bars serving local delicacies, amusingly one sold haggis, and they hunted for vegan options and managed to find seven dishes that they could eat. Eating on the move was not the best way to consume but it was fun and miraculously he managed to avoid getting food on him. They wandered round the market bought a variety of locally grown peaches which, tasted delicious and then weary from the travel and the days activities returned to the hotel for a well earned rest and sleep in comfortable soft and stable bed.


  1. WELL!
    I’ve been out of the loop and missed half your September bloggeroos, the first since you left… so this was a great one to return with.
    I knew that music from the first note Nick and laughed like a loon. Is poor Peng Sharif to your ‘Awrence?
    Anyway, you look like you’re still having a hoot and the desert suits you both.
    Have fun.
    P x

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