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Sensual sands pull the masses to Mingsha Mountain Crescent Springs

CRI Online)  09:42, July 26, 2013  

Friends descend the mountain in style at Mingsha Mountain. ( Wang)

>> Sunset scenery at scenic spot of Crescent Lake in Dunhuang

Gansu province's Dunhuang is famed for its strategic position on the Silk Road, where voyagers with parched throats would congregate and rest before remounting their camels. Mingsha Mountain Crescent Spring is a wellspring surrounded by mountains of sand; once the savior of visiting traders, it is now the heart of a national scenic park. Although it has the potential to be a calm oasis for the body and mind, in truth, it's more like a bustling ski resort, with grains of sand in place of flakes of snow.

Just four kilometers south of downtown Dunhuang, the park begins its day early. Before five a.m., the keen gather on the sand dune peaks to bask in the first of the sun's breaking rays. By the afternoon, full-on crowds of people hit the slopes, trekking up the hills in fluorescent orange boots that keep the sand out.

Visitors squint to see the distant masses of flowing pristine sand. The distant views of the sensually curved dunes of sand are heart-stirring, at times flawlessly smooth, at times rippled with undulating contours. The sand at your feet, however, may be less pristine, sometimes littered with empty plastic water bottles and detritus.

The Crescent Spring itself is a stereotypical desert oasis. Surrounded entirely by sweeping sand dunes, the perfect crescent moon shape is filled with pristine water (now artificially filled). However, camels may no longer slake their thirst at the spring's blue waters, as unsurprisingly they are now fenced off. Sorry camels: you can look, but you can't drink.

Camel rides are one of the park's main activities and hundreds of camels can be seen near and far, trudging along in lines. A guide leads each line of camels, tramping along by foot (which sometimes makes camel riders feel slightly lazy during the hour-long tours of the area). They certainly get everyone far enough so that they can snap some photos that are completely clear of the tourist throng.

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(Editor:DuMingming、Ye Xin)


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