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Preview of Clairedonze's blog at TravelPod. Read the full blog here: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/clairedonze/1/1252669176/tpod.htmlThis blog preview was made by TravelPod using the TripAdvisor™ TripWow slideshow creator.Entry from: Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, ChinaEntry Title: "Gobi Desert and Last Days of Silk Road Trip"Entry:"After Qinghai we left for the Gobi Desert and the city of Jiayuguan. Our first stop was Jiayuguan Fortress which is at the very end of the Great Wall. It acted as a border check station for any travelers going into or out of China. It was also attacked a few times by invaders. And they had all sorts of dangerous activities for us to try!! Refer to pictures for details.Jiayuguan as a city though sucked. It was a pretty big city, but it was like there weren't enough people to fill the city so it always felt deserted. And it seemed like our hotel was embarrassed to have Westerners staying there because they always hustled us away from the front doors if we loitered too long and they wouldn't let us sit in the chairs in the lobby. It was fairly awful.We also got to visit the Hanging Great Wall, which is the farthest most Western end of the Great Wall. The area surrounding it reminded us of Mordor. We had fun climbing around on the mountains.From Jiayuguan we then went to Dunhuang which is really famous for its Buddhist Grottoes, and therefore it is quite the tourist attraction, and therefore, they have lots of western style restaurants!!! I had french toast for almost every meal... Anyway. We went to the Mogao Grottoes which has the second and third largest Buddhist sculptures in China; which were something like 120 feet tall? Which now that I'm seeing that it seems impossible but that's what the guide said so I'll take her word for it.Our last night in Dunhuang we camped in the Gobi desert! And, of course, even though it hadn't rained in 6 months, it rained the night we were there. The dunes were just like the giant sand dunes that you see movies. After we set up our tent a bunch of us started hiking up different sand dunes. The dunes are really deceptive because there is no frame of reference when your in the desert; everything looks the same. A dune looks like it is only a few dozen feet away but then you find yourself walking for an hour to get to it. Or if you are on the crest of a dune it is really hard to find the exact highest point because the dune is changing even as you are walking on it. So we are hiking up this dune and what I thought would take me 30 minutes tops turned into expedition. The hike to the top of that thing was one of the hardest things I think I've ever done! It took us an hour to get to the crest and by that time we were absolutely exhausted! Every few steps we had to stop and take a break. Right before dark we finally made it to the top and we watched as the group who stayed at base camp set up the bonfire. There were four groups of people on four different sand dunes and we yelled from dune to dune for the better part of an hour. Going down was the most fun because if you jumped off the edge of the dune you would fly for like 20 feet but, obviously, it didn't hurt when you landed. By the time we got to the bottom it was pitch dark and we had to use the bonfire to get us back. Our guides brought us watermelon and we were up until one playing tag.Our wake up call was at 4:30 in the morning and after we packed up our sleeping bags and tents in the dark they bused us to the camel farm where we were supposed to ride to the top of the dunes to see the sunrise. The camels got us half way up the dune and than there were stairs we could take the rest of the way. But due to a mistranslation, we thought that it costs money to take stairs; money that none of us brought with us. So we are all schlepping up this sand dune just feet away from the stairs that would make our lives so much easier. And when we finally got to the top we found out that the stairs were actually free but it was the slide down that cost money. Hilarious not. It was too hazy to see the sunrise but it was still really pretty. It was actually really cold out so we were looking forward to coming down.That day we left to go back to Beijing. Needless to say it was an amazing trip.More pictures of the ..."Read and see more at: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/clairedonze/1/1252669176/tpod.htmlPhotos from this trip:1. "Swords and Armour!"2. "Bows and Arrows!"3. "Group A = Awesome"4. "View of the Gobi from the Top"5. "See That Speck at the Top?"6. "Descent from the Gates of Mordor"7. "Tent Camp in the Gobi Desert"8. "Tokey Dokey!! Gobi Desert"9. "Waiting for the Sun to Rise"10. "Ahkmed, My Trusty Steed"See this TripWow and more at http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/tripwow/ta-00bb-5668-9316?ytv4=1