Normally you would not expect to see a desert and a spring coexist, just as you would not expect oil and water to mix. This is what makes the Crescent Lake so spectacular. As I look across the vast desert, I see a small body of water, shining brightly like a freshly polished piece of silverware. The shape is that of a crescent moon giving it its name. The sun shines on the water, making it appear like a fresh piece of melon, covered in morning dew. The spring is surrounded by enormous dunes of sand, creating an eerie yet peaceful echo. I can feel the sun beating down on my head, leaving my skin with a sun kissed glow. I do not hear much except for the chirp of an occasional bird. The water is a turquoise blue and it dances with every gust of wind. As I breathe in I can feel the fresh air fill my lungs.
The journey there was quite grueling. The desert was hot and dry and my feet were scorched from the burning sand. I walked for hours and hours with no water and my mouth felt dry and parched. I knew the journey would be worth it, but nothing could prepare me for the beauty of this glistening spring. I arrived with a group of about 15 of us and 12 camels. Two of the men stayed behind at the previous camp for they were too sick to walk. We started the journey at midnight in hopes that we would make it to the spring before dawn. We got to the spring a little later than expected but our breath was taken away by the sight of the glittering waters. Most of the group rushed down the dunes to quench their thirst. I could not move because I was paralyzed by the placid and calm oasis. As I started strolling down towards the water to get a drink I noticed that there were more people there that were not from our group. Women danced through the water as they bathed their children and others were filling up jugs. This was one of the only clean water sources for miles so it was a popular destination for those passing through.
As the night grew nearer, the stars appeared in the mysterious, pitch-black sky. They shined like diamonds and reflected elegantly on the water. This night was especially exciting because the moon was full. It glowed like a luminous orb in a sea of darkness. We set up camp and slept there for the night. It was much more frigid now that the sun was gone so we had to bundle up for warmth. Our camels were tied up next to us, resting for the journey ahead. As I closed my eyes I knew that the slumber would be tranquil and that I would have nothing but sweet dreams.
I have lived in khotan china my whole life and today is the day i make the journey to dunhuang to search for beliefs….
Because there are no roads or trains to take to the cave, I arrived on a boat filled with . The river I was sailing on had different shades of blue and green. I see everything around reflecting in the water . As the boat approached the edge where the water stops and the concrete meets, I felt the blazing sun on my skin while little droplets of sweat were starting to roll down my forehead. When I look up I see lots of stairs and an enormous statue of buddha. The beautiful scenery sends a tingly feeling down my whole body.
As I was walking I could hear the sounds of the gravel crunching beneath my feet after every step i took. I start Going up the stairs. I feel the rusty handle bar sliding through my fingers. Scanning my surroundings, Most of the ground was very dry and sandy. The sky was empty except for the bright sun in the center. There was a slight wind, but i only could tell because there was faint movement in the tree leaves. Barely making it up the stairs without using all my energy, i came across a sandstone looking bridge. The detail of the bridge rails caught my eye as well as the dome shaped roofs of the buildings on the other side. Instead of an opening for a door, there was a door made out of rusty, black metal pipes. Each bar was spaced widely from each other and at the bottom of the pipes there was an arrowhead shaped detail.
Once i stepped into the cave is was a bit cooler than the outside temperature, but still hot. I see very meticulous art with many colors and shapes. As i walk farther i meet a dead end that is a red square room. There is a life size statue of buddha made out of clay meditating on a stage. There are also people on each side of him forming an arch. 1 woman and 2 men on each side of the buddha. The women are wearing an orange kimono with pink cherry blossoms. Their hair is in a bun with green sticks poking through forming an X. The men are wearing armor that looks very thin and brown. The design on it looks like a mandla. All the people are smiling and have their right hand up. I start reading the drawings on the cave walls. More and more I am interested in adapting to buddhism.
The Printing Press
I am researching a technology in Dunhuang, China. For this research I am visiting a printing press and a wooden block printing factory in Dunhuang China. The earliest printing dates back to the 2nd century when ancient Chinese used wooden blocks to transfer images of flower on silk. The Chinese began printing on paper in the 7th century and they created the Diamond Sutra which was the first book. The printing press is a machine that you use to type letters on a newspaper.
The wooden blocks were made of wood that was carved into a chinese symbol. The workers would then cover the block with ink which was made out of pine resin, wax and paper ashes. Then they pushed the paper over the engraved characters and the text was printed. I can smell the fresh cut wood it reminds me of a saw mill. I can hear the paper crinkling as it is being pressed. It feels sticky from the pine resin and the wax. I can feel the paper in my hands as I press it into the ink and imagine getting paper cuts from working with paper all day.
Movable type printing was invented next between 1041 and 1048. Each character was made out of clay. I imagine smelling the fire used to heat the clay for it to be hard and keep its shape. When the clay comes out of firing it is hot. Resin wax and paper ash are mixed together and lined on the bottom of an iron box to hold the characters face up. I imagine my fingers being sticky from the mixture. The bottom of the box was heated to melt the mixture. I can imagine blisters from the hot mixtures. The tops of the clay characters were inked and lightly brushed.
The silk road is known for being a very important trade route. It originated in Chang’an in the east and ended at the Mediterranean in the west. On the silk road many goods were traded like silk, spice, amber, wool, etc.
I saw a lot of spices like cinnamon, pepper, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. The traders on the silk road put all their goods on their caravans, they transport the goods to a weigh station, were they were picked up by other caravans. The silk is a fine lustrous fiber. The spices were cinnamon, pepper, ginger, cloves and nutmeg all the different species where different colors and textures. Amber which is a fossilized tree resin. I smelled the sweet smell of cinnamon, the spicy smell of pepper, and other smells of ginger, cloves and nutmeg. I felt all the textures of the different spices. I felt the smooth, soft texture of silk, and the fine, soft, curly fur of wool. I tasted a lot of different spices, the cinnamon had a sweet and savory flavour, the ginger and nutmeg had a spicy sweet taste.
While traveling the silk road I was excited to see all the places near and on the silk road, but there was also the fear of getting sick or being robbed. Riding a camel for so many days and nights was hard but was the only way to get all my goods traded. Sometimes traveling through a large deserts we ran low on resources like food and water. That is why camels are so good for traveling, they can drink a large amount of water at once. This water is then stored in the animal’s bloodstream. Then they store extra fat in there humps which it uses as nourishment when food is scarce.