An adventure comes out of nowhere.
The leader of Susan's Shanghai American School, "Silk Road" school trip tore his ACL. Doc says: "Nope..no trekking near Mongolia for you.". So Susan asked if her hub, that be me, could take his place. Voila. Road Trip!!
The school outing for tenth graders will take them on a cultural "immersion" trip to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The city les west of Bogda Mountain, part of the Tianshan Range. The area has lush pastures populated with many minorities who herded sheep and cattle. In Mongolian, Urumchi actually means "beautiful pastures". The trip will take us to the far northwest of China, a mere six hour flight from Shanghai.
The road trip will also take us to Turpan, the lowest point in China (505 feet BELOW sea level).
The last town to visit is Dunhuant where a cluster of 492 caves, containing 45,000 square metres (45,000 square metres????) of frescoes is located. There are an additional 2,415 stucco statues. The caves were created during the 4th century.
Of course I immediately picture National Geographic images in my head of wide open plains, peasants wearing coolie hats toiling away under a deep blue sky, mountains in the background, pastures rolling into the horizon. Wake up Joe!! It's 2006. Urumqi is now a city!! You've got to drive to the pastures. If where we're going is anything like the image from Warrior.tours, no complaints here.