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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Photos from the Road

I-Team,Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Posted On

07/22/09

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I-Team

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Photos from the Road

I-Team,Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Posted On

07/21/09

Author

I-Team

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Dear Silk Road Parents and Friends,

I hope that you have been enjoying the Silk Road groups' Yaks and photos. I know I have!

I wanted to give you another update on the Silk Road program itinerary. The situation in Xinjiang Province has stablized to the point where we are once again considering the option of travel in Xinjiang for the Silk Road group. We have been hearing positive reports from travelers coming out of Xinjiang and from our contacts in the province. There have been no significant incidents of unrest in the region since the police stopped the riots nearly two weeks ago. It seems that a continued heavy police presence has prevented any further eruptions of unrest and things are returning to normal in Xinjiang.

Because participant safety remains our top priority, I have asked Daniel to travel to Turpan, Xinjiang ahead of the group in order to get a feel for what things are like on the ground in Xinjiang in the aftermath of the July 5 Urumqi riots. Turpan is a small oasis town about 2 hours outside of Urumqi. It is not a major political center and has not seen any riots or significant political unrest in recent years. Past Dragons groups have enjoyed home-stays in Tuyoq village, a friendly, traditional Uighur village located in the countryside near Tuyok. I have taken two Dragons groups to Tuyok myself. The villagers are incredibly warm and hospitable and a visit to Tuyokis definitely a highlight of any WTBD Silk Road program. We're hoping that this year's Silk Road students will also be able to enjoy home-stays in Tuyok.

Daniel will explore Turpan and Tuyok and will talk extensively with Dragons' local contacts about any possibly safety risks or new government restrictions on the movement of foreign travelers. Daniel will give me a thorough report before I will approve any travel in Xinjiang for this group.If Daniel or I feel AT ALL unsure as to whether or not we can ensure the safety of the Silk Road group in Xinjiang, we will re-route to a different province. Regardless, even if we do decide to pursue travel in Xinjiang, we plan on giving Urumqi a wide berth, just to be on the safe side.

While Daniel is away from the group, Kate, Logan and the rest of the students will be exploring Dunhuang. Dunhuang is a relatively developed area with good transport and communication links. Daniel should be able to stay in touch with Kate and Logan (and with me) while he is in Turpan. If Kate and Logan require him to return to Dunhuang to support them and the students, he will be able to return quickly.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns about the Silk Road program itinerary.

Sincerely,

Katie Hagel

China Program Director

katie@wheretherebedragons.com

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Silk Road Itinerary Update

Katie Hagel,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

Dear Silk Road Parents and Friends, I hope that you have been enjoying the Silk Road groups’ Yaks and photos. I know I have! I wanted to give you another update on the Silk Road program itinerary. The situation in Xinjiang Province has stablized to the point where we are once again considering the option […]

Posted On

07/21/09

Author

Katie Hagel

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“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distancescontinue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
Dear friends and family of the Silk Road,We are adjusting well to the lower elevations and the heat of Dunhuang! This morning the students are visiting the Mogao caves to marvel at the stunning Buddhist paintings, statues, and manuscripts. Once they return, we will all set out on enormous, two-humped, and docile Bactrian camels (which have inhabited the Silk Road for over 2,000 years) to watch the sun set and rise on some of the most spectacular golden sand dunes! Marco Polo and other Silk Road travelers used to stop on these very same dunes and drink from the trapped underground springs. Students and instructors alike are excited to set out on another remarkable animal trek, this time trading in our Tibetan nomadic horses for well adapted desert camels that can climb giant dunes of sand with ease. When we arrive back in Dunhuang after a night of camping under the desert stars, our students will spend the next three nights with families that we carefully screened here in Dunhuang.Students will learn about daily life, learn new language skills, and practice the art of laughter and non-verbal communication as they partake in the daily life of Chinese families in their first home stay on the Silk Road! We have reached the midway point and we are thrilled with the development of each student and their ability to rise up to the challenges travel in China has presented to them. We will continue to soak up each moment on this remarkable and fantastic journey….Sincerely, Kate Earle
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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Sand dunes, caves, and camels!

Kate Earle,Silk Road, Summer 2009

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“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distancescontinue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” -Rainer Maria Rilke Dear friends and family of the Silk […]

Posted On

07/20/09

Author

Kate Earle

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so yesterday afternoon, after a long day of seeing caves, exchanging money, and going to markets, we mounted 14 camels and took them out too the desert. at the very beginning of the trail, it was through little plantations and tiny fields of crops with friendly people working in them who waved as we passed. as soon as we touched the sand we all noticed little stone houses that were in the middle of huge rectangles drawn in the sand. we all tried to guess what they were. some said stoves or shrines. but when we asked the guide, he told us that we were passing through a desert graveyard, which i thought was pretty cool. there were huge tombstontes about 4-5 feet tall with chinese writing on them, tables and little stools, bricks ineach corner of the rectangle in the sand, and 2 more sets of bricks at the front of the rectangle that seemed to be showing a sort of doorway. the guide didn't tell too much about them, but i'm am eager to find out more information for myself.

after going through the graveyard, we entered into the real desert. dunes all around. the sand was jsut a light yellow from the late night sun. then we arrived at the camp site. it was just a flat part of sand in the middle of the dunes. the guides said that everything was better if we took off our shoes.... so we did... and then we jumped off the dunes. we got some amazing pictures of the sun on everyones back and everyone jumping in the air with sand trailing under our feet. after all the jumping we climbed to the highest dune in sight and watched the sun set in to the city. we also flew small kites in the wind and basked in the orange-y light from the sun. then we ran/sprinted/rolled/skipped/slid/cartwheeled down the dune at full speed until we got back to the campsite where everyone laid down, looked at the night sky sprinkled with stars and listened to music that played from the soccerball-shaped speakers we had bought a couple weeks before. it was the most relaxing night of the entire trip i think. we were all calm and peaceful and every so often we would all see the same shooting star fling across the sky. it was such an amazing night and i can't believe i got to experience it.

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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under the desert stars

Maddie Considine,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

so yesterday afternoon, after a long day of seeing caves, exchanging money, and going to markets, we mounted 14 camels and took them out too the desert. at the very beginning of the trail, it was through little plantations and tiny fields of crops with friendly people working in them who waved as we passed. […]

Posted On

07/20/09

Author

Maddie Considine

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In a sea of chinese I feel like a celebrity. Imagine walking into a room full of stares and smiles and waves. Or a storekeeper offering a free bracelet as an offer of her friendship. Even beingstalked by a couple of twelve year olds for an entire day who finally work up enough courage by dinner time to ask for your email address just so they can practice their english. Things here are just so different than things at home. When I was younger I used to picture myself digging a whole through the center of the earth and ending up in China. In my imagination, everything was upside down; the houses were attached to the ground by their roofs, hats were worn on feet, and people walked on their hands. The reality is not much different, rather more, for lack of a better word, realistic. If you hear the sound of what would be an ice cream truck back in the states, hide because that is no jolly man handing out cold sugary treats to the children running behind him, that is the street cleaner spraying who knows what kind of water all over the streets and sidewalks. Police cars are not Ford, they are Honda and a select few have decepticon (a type of robot for those of you who are not fellow Transformer fans) icons on them. And the bathrooms. I will let you to use your own imagination for that.

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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in a sea of chinese…

Ashley Britts,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

In a sea of chinese I feel like a celebrity. Imagine walking into a room full of stares and smiles and waves. Or a storekeeper offering a free bracelet as an offer of her friendship. Even beingstalked by a couple of twelve year olds for an entire day who finally work up enough courage by […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Ashley Britts

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Dear Silk Road Parents and Friends,

Although the Silk Road group is currently traveling in a remote area and cannot access the internet, I was able to check in with them by phone yesterday. I wanted to let you all know that the Silk Road group has emerged from the wilds of the Tibetan Plateau and is headed for the towering sand dunes of Dunhuang. No one suffered any injuries or illness on the trek. All students and instructors are happy and healthy. The instructor team is proud of how well the students did on this rugged trek.

I will leave it to the Silk Road students and instructors to describe their experience in greater detail. They'll be able to post Yaks again from Dunhuang--and hopefully some photos, too! It sounds like it was an incredible adventure--horseback riding amidst snow capped peaks, day hikes to almost 14,000ft, camping with Tibetan nomads on the grasslands . . . amazing! Kate tells me that they also managed to squeeze in some lessons and educational activities while out in the wilds, including lessons on wilderness travel and safety, nomadic cultures and the social issues associated with the Chinese government's plans to resettle the country's Tibetan, Mongolian, Kirghiz and Kazakh in Han Chinese towns.

I am really glad to hear that the Silk Road students and instructors had such a wonderful time trekking in Langmusi. Langmusi was not on our original itinerary; the Silk Road instructors only decided to check the place out because they had to postpone their trip to Xinjiang. As this experience has shown us, the best adventures are often unplanned! I hope that the Silk Road group will continue to reap the rewards of spontaneity as they continue their travels through China's "Wild West."

Katie

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Horse Trekking Success!

Katie Hagel,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

Dear Silk Road Parents and Friends, Although the Silk Road group is currently traveling in a remote area and cannot access the internet, I was able to check in with them by phone yesterday. I wanted to let you all know that the Silk Road group has emerged from the wilds of the Tibetan Plateau […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Katie Hagel

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    [post_content] => divided by the resettlement of their people by the Chinese government. The youth might look forward to schools, TV's, running water etc., while the older generations who have lived for decades under the nomadic culture are being stripped of their life's work. We heard a story of the elder in the village who was given less than 20 yaks and sheep as a teenager 45 years ago, and has worked to accumulate a herd of nearly 60 yaks, dozens of sheep, and a handful of horses for his expanding family to survive comfortably.During his story, it was evident how proud he was of his accomplishment and his supporting role in the family. Regardless of which side you believe in (nomadic vs. sedentary -both have valid objectives and arguements), the change will be difficult for all ages and all Tibetan peoples as they transition to a new lifestyle, and slowly lose their rich history and culture, along with aman's lifelong achievement.
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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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If I were a Tibetan I would feel…

Thomas Armstrong,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

divided by the resettlement of their people by the Chinese government. The youth might look forward to schools, TV’s, running water etc., while the older generations who have lived for decades under the nomadic culture are being stripped of their life’s work. We heard a story of the elder in the village who was given […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Thomas Armstrong

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After Alex's clothes got stolen during a laundry run, we decided to make the best of the theft and experience life more simply, withoutthe weight of material goods.We took advantage of our lack of clothing and went to live with Tibetan Nomads, who also have only one pair of underwear and a single shirt. Butthey have plenty of yaks.Even though we only had the clothes on our backs (and in Alex's case, less than that) we HAD to bring our new speaker, whichis soccer ball-shaped and plugs into our iPods for a NOMADICDANCE PARTY!!!! This was a fulfilling and rewarding adventure. Although it wasn't on our original itinerary, it shows that sometimes the best experiences are ones that are unplanned. Too bad the Chinese government is erradicating thislifestyle, forcing theseNomadic families to relocateand integrate into mainstreamsociety. We look foward to spending time inthe desert and experiencing life in the sand dunes.

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Nomadic Life

Alex Kern and Kimberly Schreiber,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

After Alex’s clothes got stolen during a laundry run, we decided to make the best of the theft and experience life more simply, withoutthe weight of material goods.We took advantage of our lack of clothing and went to live with Tibetan Nomads, who also have only one pair of underwear and a single shirt. Butthey […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Alex Kern and Kimberly Schreiber

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The day to day reality of nomadic tent life is perfect simplicity and resourcefulness. As wedismounted our horses after a 2 hour ride away fromLangmusi, we gazed upon our home for the next2 nights-a Tibetan nomadicfamily's yurt.The yurt, which is a tent-like structure was made of woven yak hair (from the family's own yaks!) and canvas. The family was kind and compassionate, sharing with us not only one of their shelters but cooking meals for us too. Weshared thefamily's fields with theiryaks. The family's livelihood is based around their animals and therefore they must move often to provide ample food for their animals. We had the unique experience of witnessing this on the last day of the horse trek.Asthey packed up their tents and began to herd their yaks, wepacked upour bagsand headed out onour horses. What an awesome experience!

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Nomadic tent life

Katie Falk,Silk Road, Summer 2009

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The day to day reality of nomadic tent life is perfect simplicity and resourcefulness. As wedismounted our horses after a 2 hour ride away fromLangmusi, we gazed upon our home for the next2 nights-a Tibetan nomadicfamily’s yurt.The yurt, which is a tent-like structure was made of woven yak hair (from the family’s own yaks!) and […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Katie Falk

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