29 Aug 1998 11:13:00 -0700
Cafe, Dunhuang; Gansu--China :: SA 29 AUG 98
Dunhuang. A second day here. Perhaps four more. Rest. Yesterday,
writing. Courage, a struggle. Still not right.
And the email backlog. Ever present. When not writing, chatter with other
westerners. The South African who talked and talked, an uninterruptible
stream. The Chinese-American who I'd engage, curious about her reaction
to China, but whose responses were drowned in the South African flood.
The gentle Kiwi hippie, bedraggled long hair pulled back, whispy beard,
flowing light cotton in purple and green and off for Tibet, then Nepal.
Dunhuang is a good place to stop and rest. And we need one.
Our rifle shot through the Hexi corridor, 1,200 kilometers in 11 days
of riding, 17 days total. From Wuwei onward stretches of desert, longer
and longer, until the 120 kilometer Oasis-to-Oasis hop between Anxi and
Dunhuang. We exhausted our water 20K shy of Dunhuang, at the edge of the
Oasis, and resorted to filtering from an irrigation ditch. Two kilometers
later, civilization, refrigerated water and soft drinks.
From Jiayuguan to Dunhuang just shy of 400 kilometers and mostly
desert. We cross in three days, the first day a marvel of 162 kilometers,
a 100 mile day, as Jay would say, "a REAL century," a first for both of
us. Something to tell the grandchildren.
But we are here now, and though there are stories yet to tell,
a whole backlog of them, I'm on vacation, basking in lethargy. I've written
of this before: on an extended journey it's necessary to just stop and
recuperate, take a week off at the end of every month.
Dunhuang is a good place for this. A pleasant green town, a
traveller's rest with english menus displaying reasonable prices for reasonable
facsimiles of home cooking. In the night market, arranged around a fountain's
spray, dozens of tea-tables, pay by the hour. And all around a bounty
of sites to spread among the days: Mogao Ku, the Buddhist grottoes of
Dunhuang; Mingsha Shan, the mountainous dunes of yellow sand; Crescent
Moon Lake, nestled in the dunes; Yumenguan, the fabled Jade Gate to the
Silk Road's Northern Route. A place where for a short time you can stop
being a traveller while recharging your travel batteries with the stories
and information other travellers share in your chatter.
~~~ Corresondence appreciated ~~~
In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creature flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.
The Master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole.
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn't glitter like a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
as rugged and common as stone.