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108 braids... the devotional representation of a sacred Tibetan number. Photo by Rebecca Thom, China Semester.


As our time in Danba’s Tibetan village draws to a close, we shift gears in preparation for the next couple weeks, which will be faster-paced. Our travels will take us northwest through Gansu province, known for its desert landscapes, and Xinjiang, famous for its fusion of East Asian and Middle Eastern culture. Our destinations include the western-most pass of the Great Wall, the echoing sand dunes of the Gobi Desert, the vibrant Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye, as well as a variety of bazaars and ancient burial sites. The final five days of our expedition will consist of instructor-led “transference” activities that serve to facilitate our transition back to life in the US.

Our itinerary is as follows:

May 11th: – Leave Danba in the morning by car for Chengdu (transportation hub).- In the evening, take an overnight train from Chengdu to Lanzhou (transportation hub), the capital of Gansu province.

May 12th:- Arrive in Lanzhou in the morning, then take a train to Zhangye (in Gansu) and arrive in the early afternoon.- Take a bus to the Rainbow Mountains, where we’ll spend the rest of the afternoon exploring its famous, colorful formations.- Spend the night in Zhangye.

May 13th:- Leave Zhangye by train in the afternoon for Jiayuguan (in Gansu), where we’ll arrive in the evening.- Visit the Jiayu pass of the Great Wall.- Spend the night in Jiayuguan.

May 14th:- Visit a local art museum in the morning.- Take a bus in the afternoon from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang (in Gansu).- Spend the night in Dunhuang.

May 15th-May 16th:- Trek the Gobi Desert (ideally on camels), slide down its echoing sand dunes (a recommended recreational activity), and explore its Crescent Oasis.- Spend both nights in Dunhuang.

May 17th-18th: – In the morning of the 17th, leave Dunhuang by train to Turpan (in Xinjiang).- Get black sand treatment (a traditional procedure for making the body immune to diseases), visit ancient tombs, other activities TBD.- Spend both nights in Tarpan.

May 19th-22nd:- In the afternoon of the 19th, leave Turpan by train for Kashgar (in Xinjiang)- Arrive in Kashgar the morning of the 20th.- Visit bazaars, explore the city.- Spend all four nights in Kashgar.

May 23rd-May 28th: – Instructor-led activities in Tashkurgan (in Xinjiang).