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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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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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“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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    [post_content] => YEAH BABY WHOOA!!!!!!! Who want to mess with the SILK ROADERS, i advise you not to. Hiking up a nearly verticle mountain thrice, baby. Meeting Nomads,experiencing their lifestyle, and watching them move to a different location, REALLY WHO CAN SAY THAT, the SILK ROADERS can. OOPS did i mention we were on horses too. And by the way we did all this in 3 days. Sorry to brag, but who wouldn't. PEACE.
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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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YEAH BABY, WHOOA

UMAR AMIN JR.,Silk Road, Summer 2009

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YEAH BABY WHOOA!!!!!!! Who want to mess with the SILK ROADERS, i advise you not to. Hiking up a nearly verticle mountain thrice, baby. Meeting Nomads,experiencing their lifestyle, and watching them move to a different location, REALLY WHO CAN SAY THAT, the SILK ROADERS can. OOPS did i mention we were on horses too. And […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

UMAR AMIN JR.

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I can't understand why yaks are so agressive; however, they are the primary form of support for nomadic people. the people use the yaks for everything. While we were taying with the nomads, we were able to stay in their yak hair tents and watch them herd the yaks every day. in addition to their use as herding animals, the nomadic people also milk yaks. they use this milk for yak milk tea as well as for butter, yogurt, and goodness knows what else. one final thing that they use yaks for is for their dungs. since the yaks' primary diet is grass, the dung, when dried out, is used to fuel all of their fires. it is certainly an experience to sit in front of a yak dung fire. however, while these creatures are useful and rather funny looking, they are also very agressive. one yak got very defensive over a tube of dropped tooth paste. it was rather scary becasue it seemed as though the yak was going to charge Kate becasue of the tooth paste, but the crisis was averted. Yaks are very cool creatures though. nthey also clearly mean a lot to the nomads and their lifestyle. the second night we were in the yurts, there was an elaborate call warning system that occured because the nomads were worried that somebody was coming to steal their yaks. while with the noimads, i was given the opportunity to milk a yak and ride one. it was such a fantastic experience!
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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Yak Yak: Yak

Clara Engle,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

I can’t understand why yaks are so agressive; however, they are the primary form of support for nomadic people. the people use the yaks for everything. While we were taying with the nomads, we were able to stay in their yak hair tents and watch them herd the yaks every day. in addition to their […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Clara Engle

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the first thing i thought when i saw my horse on the first day of the 3 day trek is....

whey the heck did i get the biggest horse????? i'm the youngest and one of the smallest so why is my horse bigger than all of the instructors' and the guides' horses???

the 3-day trek was so amazing. of course all of our butts hurt insanely bad by the end, but it was definately worth it. the first day we woke up early and rode for maybe 2 hours to the nomad yurt (super tent) we were staying in. there we had lunch and then hiked up a mountain that was at a maybe 85 degree angle... not so much fun to hike up, but the view from the top was absolutely amazing. at the top 2 of the students had planned a bonding/trust activity where we all get trust bracelets and exchange them with the person in front of you. so now we all have cool bracelets. :) then we hiked down, rode some yaks (yes... yaks), haddinner, talked to the guides a little bit, and slept our first night in a nomadic yurt. unfortunately it rained that night and all the clothes we brought got soaked...

the next day we rode for another 2 hours, had lunch in a field of flowers, took pictures of the mountains, then hiked up another mountain. the guides said being at the top is liek the equivalent of being half way up mt. everest. so yea... we've been half way up everest. the view wasbreathtaking. you could see every mountain for miles and miles. everything was so lush and green and gorgeous.but at the very top when we were walking along a path that would only be a half hour to the top of one the holiest Buddhist mountains, it started raining and we had to go back down. we were so close, but going down in the freezing rain was so much fun i thought!! then at the bottom we had to walk through pools of mud to get to our horses. then we were all so exhausted we just went to bed.

the last day of the trek was so long!!!!!!! we rode for 2 hours around the mountains, had a fantastic lunch at another nomadic yurt, then rode another 2-3 hours back to the village of Langmusi, where we bought food at an amazing local cafe and scarves made from yak hair, and jewelry... lots of jewelry.

it was one of the best experiences of my life, and i don't konw how many people can say they rode horseback through the tibetan mountains.

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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The first thing i thought when i saw my horse on the 3 day trek…

Maddie Considine,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

the first thing i thought when i saw my horse on the first day of the 3 day trek is…. whey the heck did i get the biggest horse????? i’m the youngest and one of the smallest so why is my horse bigger than all of the instructors’ and the guides’ horses??? the 3-day trek […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Maddie Considine

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I never thought i was telling myself and others a true reality when i would say i would be staying in a nomadyurt eating their local food and livinglife in its simplest form.......wow. That last word was the first to come out when such a fantasy came true. There i was, sitting on a bed of dead mountain floweres, (which were comfertable) bieng conversed inall directions by the nomads, with only our one guide andfriend, Ragba, to translate. I would escape from the chaotic western filled tent to go sit with these huble travellers. I had much to share, and so did they.....especially yak yogurt! Sprinkle sugar over the paste, and Shizzzam!!! heaven in a porcielin bowl. I should be, and am, deeply greatful of bieng given the chance to experience such a life, because we may be one of the last, if not the last, of any foreigners to see and be part of the nomadic life.

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Favorite moment in the last few days

Nico Ortega-Carvalhal,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

I never thought i was telling myself and others a true reality when i would say i would be staying in a nomadyurt eating their local food and livinglife in its simplest form…….wow. That last word was the first to come out when such a fantasy came true. There i was, sitting on a bed […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Nico Ortega-Carvalhal

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Watching the sun rise withour group from a sacred Tibetan peak made me feel the magnitude of my relative insignificance. Being nowhere and yet feeling at the center of the earth's pulse,following thefacesof holy mountains that disappear in the mist, laughing with nuns who have never seen retainers or inflatable sleeping mats at night by the light of butter candles...all of this illuminates the freedom I have and that we all have to live by our own design. And this brings me back to my relative insignificance. I do not mean by this that I lack the ability to change the world. I mean that when we live in a world where even the holy mountainscan be anonymous, there is a lot more space to carve our own kinds of prayers and live by them then we think. Or at least so I thought before I watched the sun rise steadily with new friends atop a mountain top that is nowhere and yet everything to some people.

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Silk Road, Summer 2009

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Tibetan sunrise from a holy mountain

Hannah Friedland,Silk Road, Summer 2009

Description

Watching the sun rise withour group from a sacred Tibetan peak made me feel the magnitude of my relative insignificance. Being nowhere and yet feeling at the center of the earth’s pulse,following thefacesof holy mountains that disappear in the mist, laughing with nuns who have never seen retainers or inflatable sleeping mats at night by […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Hannah Friedland

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