Monday, July 21, 2008

Our Itinerary - Part One

The first 10 days of the trip are on a tour. Here is the itinerary of the tour.

2008 China Solar Eclipse Tour
Beijing—Lanzhou—Jiayuguan—Dunhuang—Hami—Karatoruk—Turpan—Urumqi 10 days 9 nights
Day 00 F 25 July. Arrive in Beijing. Overnight in Beijing 4*
Beijing: Qianmen Jianguo Hotel
Add: No. 175 YongAn Road, Xuanwu District, Beijing
Tel: 0086-10-63016688
Day 01 Sa 26 July. In Beijing, meet the local guide. (D) Overnight in Beijing 4*
Day 02 Su 27 July. In the morning take flight from Beijing to Lanzhou.
Beijng/Lanzhou MU2412 ( 1050/1305 )
Meet the local guide and visit White Pagoda Hill. The mountain stands at the northern bank of the Yellow River and has its name after the white pagoda on top of it. The White Pagoda Hill Park is large and a nice place for strolling, with green forests, scattered pavilions, teahouses and, from its heights, some good views of both the churning river and the city beyond. The nearby bridge, Zhongshan Bridge, was the old crossing point for travelers and merchants who were then to head north on the Silk Road. See Mother Statue of Yellow River, a modern sculpture in Xihu Park. In China, the Yellow River is also called Mother River, because so much Chinese civilization was born alongside it. Iron Bridge over the yellow river (Zhongshan Bridge). Zhongshan Bridge, also called the first bridge over the Yellow River, lies at the foot of Bai Ta Mountain and in front of Jin Cheng Pass in Lanzhou city, the capital of Gansu Province. In the evening take soft sleeper train to Jiayuguan. (B/L/D) Overnight on the train Lanzhou/Jiayuguan: T927 ( 2220/0714 )
Day 03 M 28 July. Arrive in Jiayuguan, meet the local guide and visit Jiayuguan Fortress. Jiayuguan was the end of the Great Wall. Passing through the gates of the Jiayuguan fortress meant leaving Chinese culture behind for the harshness of central Asia. Today the Jiayuguan fortress is a World Heritage site and a truly impressive structure. The Great Wall Museum was the first of its kind to offer a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the history of the Great Wall. Covering a total area of 3 acres, the "beacon tower" styled complex is made up of seven different sections, with the central theme of the "Great Wall". With the help of scale models, diagrams, words and photos spanning from the Warring States Period to the Ming Dynasty (a total of more than 3,000 years), the museum gives visitors a fairly good representation of the life of this vast, snaking wall. (B/L/D) Overnight in Jiayuguan 4*
Jiayuguan: Huayuan Hotel
Add: NO.1 Shuguang Street Jiayuguan Gansu China
Tel: 0086-937-6308888
Web: no website
Day 04 T 29 July. After breakfast drive to Dunhuang. Visit Sand Dune. Dunhuang has a spectacular natural scene: Mingsha (Sighing) Sand Dune. The dune, a sand crusted hill of dozens of meters high, is 40km east to west, and 20km south to north. On fine days, the sand roars like thunder which can be heard in the city, hence the name. When visitors climb up to the dunes and slide downward from the summit, the sand can collapse with them and give out a peal of loud sound. Crescent-Moon Spring lies at the foot of the Mingsha Sand Dune and is named for its shape. It is about 100m long and 25m wide, and has fish and water weeds that are said to be good for the health. The area is often hit by windstorms, which drive up sand to shut out sunlight. Interestingly enough, however, for hundreds of years people have never seen the spring filled up with or covered by sand. (B/L/D) Overnight in Dunhuang 4*
Dunhuang: Sun Village Hotel
Add: NO.1.Middle Airport Road,Dunhuang
Tel: 0086-937-8868588
Day 05 W 30 July. After breakfast visit Mogao Grottos. The Mogao Grottos, commonly named Thousand-Buddha Caves, and praised as "a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road", are the most famous grottos in China. Located 25km southeast of Dunhuang County, these caves are carved out of the sandstone cliffs of Mingsha Mountain, extending some 1600m from south to north. Constructed in 10 dynasties from the fourth to the 14th century, its 45000 square meters of mural paintings and more than 2000 color statues are regarded as the greatest treasure-house of Buddhist art existing in the world. Then drive to Hami, meet the local guide and check in the hotel. (B/L/D) Overnight in Hami 3*
Hami: Junyao Hotel
Add: NO.25 Tian Shan North Road, Hami, Xinjiang, China.
Tel: 0086-902-6986666
Web: no website
Day 06 Th 31 July. In the morning visit Hami King Mausoleum (built 16th century with combination of Chinese Uighur architectural style building complex), visit Hami Museum. Lunch will be at local family. In the afternoon visit local Uighur kindergarten where kids show their presentation of singing and dancing; also visit Hami Uighur classic embroidery family. (B/L/D) Overnight at Hami 3*
Day 07 F 1 Aug. In the morning drive to Karatoruk county through the Tianshan mountain and enjoy its gorgeous scenery, drive pass ancient beacon tower ruin. Visit White Stone scenic area, dipping irrigation system, natural salt lake,Tang Dynasty military garrison camps ruins. About 1845 ready for the eclipse observation, and be on the site (it start 2005 to 2045). After the viewing drive back to hotel. (B/L/D) Overnight in Hami 3*
Day 08 S 2 Aug. Drive to Turpan. Turpan depression 154m below sea level, second lowest place in the world after the Dead Sea. Very important cultural and historical town in Xinjiang China, on the way visit Bezeklik caves(4th century), Astana tombs, an ancient burial ground for the nobles and aristocrats. With more than 400 tombs excavated with best preserved artifacts, it has been named ‘underground museum’ by the world scholars. In the afternoon visit Grape Gorge which is a long valley 5km at the foot of the Flaming Mountain to can taste grapes and wine. (B/L/D) Overnight in Turpan 3*
Turpan: Turpan Oasis Hotel
Add: No. 41 Qing Nian Rd., Turpan 838000, Xinjiang, China
Tel: 0086-995-8522491
Day 09 Su 3 Aug. In the morning visit ancient citadel of Jiaohe with history of over 2500 years. The city was built on a natural earth cliff. Still up to now, the outline of the city is well preserved. It is a protective archaeological site by the UNESCO. Visit Kariz under ground irrigation system (one of the three manmade ancient projects of China). Visit Emin minaret (1777 years built). The mosque complex building commemorates the religious head of Turpan. In the afternoon drive to Urumqi. (B/L/D) Overnight in Urumqi 4*
Urumqi: Xinjiang Hotel
Add: No. 139 North Xinhua Road, Xinjiang, Chinaua Road , Urumqi , Xinjiang
Tel: 0086-991-2818788
Day 10 M 4 Aug. In the morning the others take a flight to Beijing, We will be leaving Urumqi on our own. First thing is to get to the Kazakh consulate early to try to get the Kazakhstan transit visa. How long we have to stay in Urumqi to do it will help us design the rest of the trip. If we are still in Urumqi on Tuesday 5 Aug, we will have changed hotels to a 0* or 1* hotel. (Our plans are to cross over to Kyrgyzstan on 11 Aug.)

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