我目前坐在一列从兰州开往北京的火车上。这周是跟我朋友在中国甘肃省的两座城市，敦煌和兰州，骑自行车过的。这算不上传统的的 ‘假期’ －我们并没有轻轻松松地过日子，整天都花在骑自行车或散散步上。但是虽然难度极大，成就感也是极大。
第二天我们上了一列开往敦煌的火车。在中国西部的敦煌以沙漠风情以及佛教艺术尤其世界闻名的莫高窟而著名。一位讲汉语的导游带领我们参观莫高窟给我们介绍一下窟里的壁画和塑像。对我们汉语学生来说这是非常值得做因为它帮我们遇到很多的汉语生词！大部分的都是跟佛教或艺术有关，比如 “涅槃” 和 “修行”。
My experience of traveling in Gansu province
I am currently sitting on a train from Lanzhou to Beijing. I have just spent the week with my friend cycling around two cities in China’s Gansu province, Dunhuang and Lanzhou. It wasn’t a traditional ‘holiday’ – we didn’t spend our time relaxing but cycling or walking all day long. But even though it was incredibly taxing, the sense of achievement was also incredible.
On the first day, we decided to challenge ourselves to cycle 80km from Lanzhou to Yongjing. It sounded doable, but what we didn’t realise is that for 30km, it was straight uphill!
I was so tired and my legs were killing me, but I had no choice but to grit my teeth and get on with it.
Eight hours later, we finally arrived! That night, the minute my head touched the pillow, I was out like a light!
The next day, we took a train to Dunhuang. Dunhuang is in Western China and famous for its desert landscape and Buddhist artwork, particularly the Mogao Caves. We went on a tour led by a Chinese speaker，who gave us an introduction to the frescos and statues inside the caves. This was an extremely valuable experience for students of Chinese as it helped us come across a lot of new vocabulary. Most of it was related to Buddhism or art, such as “nirvana” and “the practice of Buddhism”.
On the last day, we originally planned to cycle to a nearby park but decided to take a chance and go down a different, unfamiliar route. As luck would have it, this route took us to some ancient underground tombs, the Tombs of the Wei and Jin dynasty. For 30 kuai, a very knowlegeable man gave us a guided tour. We couldn’t believe how well preserved they were! The murals on the walls were over 1500 years old, and whilst some of the colours had run, the details were still very clear.
So if you have any interest in art or history, or just like spending time outside in lovely weather, I very much recommend you make a trip to Gansu!