Home > Trip Reports

Special Trip Photos - Xinjiang: Journey from the West, Oct 1-7 2010

In the classic of Chinese literature ‘Journey to the West,’ the Monkey King passed through Gansu and Xinjiang on the way to India, following the northern Silk Road.

On this 7 day trip, we made a journey from the west, crossing the desert, stopping at many of the major locations on the northern Silk Road, and seeing the traces left behind by the ancient travellers.

Highlights included the Flaming Mountains and Old City of Turpan, the Han Dynasty Great Wall in the Gobi Desert, the fortress of Jiayuguan that marks the western end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall, the Buddhist cave art of Dunhuang’s Mogao Grottoes, and a night camping in the desert.

Hiking group at Turpan, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We arrived at Turpan on the first day of the trip.

Jiaohe ruins, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We headed into the desert near Turpan to visit the ruins of an ancient city.

Headless statues, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

The ruins were very weathered, but some details were still visible. The heads of these statues were probably stolen.

Flaming Mountains, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We also visited the Flaming Mountains, a key site in the Monkey King story, and the site of the '10,000-Buddha Caves.'

Musical instruments, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

An impromptu musical collaboration at the 10,000-Buddha Caves.

Camels, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We saw a lot of camels on the trip. Some days we travelled by camel.

Camel, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

One of our camels, enjoying the sun.

Desert camping, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

On the evening of the second day of the trip we camped in the desert.

Sunset, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

Sunset over the Gobi Desert.

Campfire, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

It was quite chilly in the desert, and we appreciated the warmth of a campfire.

Breakfast, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We had breakfast in the desert before setting out again.

Mausoleum of the Hui Emperor, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

In Hami, we visited the Mausoleum of the Hui Emperors.

Ceramic tile, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

Close-up shot of the tiles of the mausoleum.

Han Dynasty Great Wall, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We visited remnants of the rammed-earth Han Dynasty Great Wall in the desert. (Han Dynasty: 206 BC - 220 AD)

Climbing a sand dune, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

In Dunhuang, we hiked in the desert, finishing with a climb up an immense sand dune.

Crescent Lake, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

Arriving at the top of the sand dune, we got a great surprise: an aerial view of the famous Crescent Lake.

Earthen tower, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

More of the Han Dynasty wall.

Picnic lunch, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

We broke up long car rides with picnics in the desert.

Jiayuguan, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

The fortress at Jiayuguan.

Guards, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

'Guards' at Jiayuguan.

Hiking group, Beijing Hikers Journey from the West trip, October 1-7, 2010

Sightseeing done, we posed for a shot with our drivers.

MORE PHOTOS: Find more photos from this trip in our Xinjiang 2010 photo gallery.

Were you on this hike or trip? How did you like it? Please send us your comments about what was good and/or what we could do a better job of. We'd love to hear from you!

Were you not on this trip, but like the look of it? Tell us, and we'll let you know when we'll be repeating it.

Trip reports, photos, and news

Trip Reports: Photos and writeups of our trips around Beijing and other parts of China. View all the trip reports »

News: Updates and information. View all the news »

Trip reports

Read one of the many reports in the archives. (This report has been chosen by random selection; we hope it's a good one for you!)

The sand dunes on this side

Special trip photos – Journey from the West, 2012/10

View trip report »