Dunhuang: National Geopark


Gansu Province


September 19, 2016


Here’s a good story:

In Dunhuang city, my guide and I met two young Chinese women who agreed to share the cost of a private van to travel to our agreed destination, the Dunhuang Yardang National Park.

After thirty minutes on the road, the van driver informed us that our group is too small.   We need to join a large Chinese group traveling by bus. 

I got suspicious.   I have been in this situation before. 

I anticipated that the new bus driver would lecture incessantly (in Chinese, of course) during the long journey.  First clue: he had a microphone strapped to his chest.

I also knew that the large Chinese group would be taken to sites of little interest (additional entrance fees) and to gift shops where passengers would be expected to make purchases of worthless stuff.  (The drivers work on commission.)

I made an executive decision.  My guide and I got off.  Our two Chinese companions decided to remain behind.

An hour later and back in town, we met a young Hungarian couple.  They agreed to travel with us to the National Park.  At that very same moment the Chinese girls called.  They had left the bus.  They would wait for us on the highway. 

Our newly constituted van group of six made our way across the desert to the Dunhuang Yardang National Park.  On the way, we stopped for lunch at a delightful, shaded, oasis restaurant.

Naturally, once at the park we encountered our erstwhile and disbelieving bus tour group.  From their expressions, I am sure they were thinking, “How the hell did those (rude) foreigners arrive at the park before we did?”

As it happened, the day before our visit to the park was my birthday.  I invited my new Chinese and Hungarian friends to dinner and to celebrate with me at the Dunhuang Night Market.  

We had one hell of a good time:  a groaning board of spicy specialties with a tower of cold beer. 

After our overload of food and drink, the tipsy and slightly swaying girls sang to me, “Happy Birthday to You.”  In Chinese, of course!


Oh, by the way, the Dunhuang National Park is spectacular and well worth the lengthy journey.

For that story, I defer to Wikipedia:

Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark (Chinese: 敦煌雅丹国家地质公园) is a national park in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China, that shows the Yardang geological feature of the area. Yardang has been created over time by the soft part of the earth's surface being eroded by wind and rain, with the hard part of the rocks remaining in the desert.

The geopark is located about 180 kilometers (112 miles) northwest of Dunhuang town center and covers an area of 398 square kilometers (154 square miles). 

Some of the uniquely-shaped rocks in the geopark are named "Mongolian Bao," "Camel," "Stone Bird," "Peacock" and "The Golden Lion Welcoming His Guests."

The unique rock formations in the park developed over a period of 700,000 years.  The Yardang geomorphic formations found in the Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark are the largest in China.

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