National Holiday Mooncake Day

Nicholas Quirke was relieved to have finally arrived at the mid Autumn festival on 1 October 2020 which, meant that the consuming of moon cake had reached its zenith and they would not be required to eat any more. The adventure of the day involved another 200 km drive and they were going to another ancient city site, though one which pre dated the Han surprised by the diversity of the landscapes they traveled past on 1 October 2020 as the made their way to Sou Yang City Ruins in Guazhou county in Gansu Province. They drove through desert , mountain. farmland , villages, river sides and gorges, seeing wild camels and an amazing array of colour. As they started the drive in the the hills they encountered a pass with several impressive sculptures. The first was an amazing red brick sleeping baby Buddha, titled ‘ Son of Earth’. It was huge and they stopped to look and take photos. Almost next to it was a structure called Mirage, though they passed this by and kept in to the ancient city. Driving through suddenly rural agricultural land was a shock as there was no subtle transition it was simply surely green and arable land with a beautiful array of trees and hedgerow. Although it was now a national holiday there was an event happening and the the public could not go until 3pm. They headed back down the road they had come where the farmers had corn, grain red sorghum laid out in front of the compounds to dry in the sun, to another series of caves, Yu Lin, in the mountain side. These caves were not as famous as Mogao but the road turned out to be another incredible ride with desert then mountains and when he spotted a river gorge with some truly vibrant yellow trees they stopped to explore, which encouraged other travellers to stop. He obsessively took photographs and film of the Snowy river and it’s banks then onto the caves. These were set deep in an impressive gorge with the river and its cloudy white water running through. When it came to purchasing the ticket he was pleased to see that he was charged half price. The Yu Lin grottoes were not as ancient as the Mogao site, dating back to the the Tang Dynasty and most of the statues had been crudely repainted by locals during the Qing Dynasty but there were still elements of beauty and a cave which had been painted with stories, some of deviant sexual practices. On the drive back to the Sou Yang City Ruins Nicholas took advantage of the desert landscape, empty roads and the high speed to lean right out the window and film. A very exhilarating experience. They were on a tour bus and were initially disappointed that they didn’t stop to look properly at some of the ruins they passed, but when they were given time to wander they were awed by the size of the ruined Silk Road city in established in 111 BC by Emperor Wu of Han but destroyed and abandoned in the 16th century, after attack by Mansur Khan of Mongolia. It looked spectacular against the blue skies and of particular interest was the surviving Dome of the temple. For the fourth time they drove down a section of road to return home and he once again tried to capture the sight as of farmers and their crops. The major stop on thereturn visit was to see the ‘Mirage Sculpture’ a vast fortress made of white scaffolding which shimmered in the distance, just as a mirage should. Nicholas sourced a vegan restaurant, ‘Qing Liam Su Shi’, where they ate another tasty meal before they started to walk to the river bank to celebrate the festival. They stopped when they witnessed a performance begin to take place where he thought there would be music and dancing, but the costumed girls and guys just stood as a poem was read and after 5 minutes of inactivity they continued on their path. They found a bench on the riverside where they had a clear view of the full moon and had their own moon cake ritual. It had been another full and inspiring, tiring day and at its end he tried once again to post his blog without much success. His thoughts of what he had seen that day whirled through his mind till he drifted into a deep slumber.


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