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TRAINS, PLANES, AND CAMELS

A journey through the Silk Road

AUGUST 23: Beijing to Lanzhou

It took 20,000 steps and 100 flights of steps, but I made it to the top of the temple. After the climb, seeing the sunset over the city was absolutely breathtaking.

AUGUST 24: Lanzhou to Xia’he

We stayed at the most unique hotel I have ever been to. The walls were decorated in gold wallpaper with intricate designs and the beds were very unconventional. That night we went to a Tibet household. We were blessed to hear musical instruments and received a white scarf (Tibet tradition, hada). After dinner, we went outside to watch the Tibetan girls sing and dance to traditional music. Everyone participated many times, which eventually turned into showing them American song/dance moves.

AUGUST 25: Xia’he

We woke up for an early 2-mile walk to turn the prayer wheels at the Labrang Monastery. The inside of the monastery was gorgeous. There were colored tapestries everywhere and giant golden Buddhist statues in every temple. Also, they had large statues made out of yak butter and their museum was full of amazing historical artifacts.

AUGUST 26: Xia’he to Turpan

We woke up for a sunrise hike. It wasn’t long, but very steep. It was worth every step though. I highly recommend a sunrise hike in Tibet. Then we went to visit a mosque, it was beautiful. First, we toured lower school level classrooms with both boys and girls. We then continued to upper school level classrooms. They sang for us and it was amazing. We then took an outside tour of the mosque, which had ornate rugs everywhere. All the colors were beautiful.

AUGUST 27: Turpan

We visited the Tuyugou village where we saw the flaming mountains. Our guide said it could get so hot that you could crack an egg in a pan and it would be fully cooked within minutes. He also said that tourists couldn’t touch the windows on their buses if it got past 40 degrees Celsius. The village was beautiful. Most houses were a clay color with ornate and very colorful doors.

AUGUST 28: Turpan to Kashgar

AUGUST 29: Kashgar

We went to the biggest mosque in Xinjiang. It was beautiful. My favorite part was finally being able to step into a mosque instead of just looking from the outside. Since we went to the tourist area, both men and women could go inside.

AUGUST 30: Kashgar

We visited many woodwork shops, metalwork shops, pottery, handmade traditional hats, traditional trinkets for tourists, bread stores, restaurants, butcher shops etc. I really wanted to buy fabric because of the details and the color. I loved how much color and sparkle all the women wore.

AUGUST 31: Kashgar to Kirgiz Yurt

We had dinner in a yurt. It consisted of rice with a large chunk of lamb. After dinner, we saw some of the locals dancing, singing, and playing traditional musical instruments. It was very fun to see all the different types of music during the trip.

SEPTEMBER 1: Kirgiz Yurt to Karakorum

We went to the grasslands for lunch. It had wooden bridges all over because the patches of grass had goats, sheep and cows just eating and wandering around. They tried to eat our food a couple of times.

SEPTEMBER 2: Tashkurgan county to Taklimaken Desert

I GOT TO RIDE A CAMEL IN THE DESERT. Her name was Alberta and we had a grand time. To get on the camel, I’m pretty sure I stepped on mounds of camel poop and pee. Besides that, it was one of my favorite activities during the whole trip; if not my favorite. The desert was so pretty as the sun began to set. The camels were super cool and everyone was just in a good mood.

SEPTEMBER 3: Kashgar to Urumqi

SEPTEMBER 4: Urumqi to BEIJING

We walked up a hill to do student presentations.  We had 2.5 hours before we headed to the airport.  At first we took a 30 minute walk to the closest town. After exploring a little, I bought a mango popsicle and sat in the bus while playing UNO.

TBC UNO gets very intense, so time flew by.

We arrived to Building 6 around midnight. I was very grumpy towards the end of the trip, but now I understand how this program makes the top 5 internationally.  I’ve never traveled and seen so much in one trip. It makes me excited to travel on the weekends and holiday breaks.

 

By Emily Snow, Loyola University Chicago, Fall 2015 Student