DUNHUANG, China (Gansu Province) – Imagining camel caravans plodding across the Gobi Desert between ancient China and the West is no challenge when you yourself are riding a camel amid towering dunes outside Dunhuang, once the westernmost military garrison in China. Marco Polo passed this way on his journeys between 1271 and 1295, but he was far from the first trader through the area. Merchants traveled the Silk Road for many centuries before the itinerant Venetian wrote about it. A modern-day visitor attraction at Echoing-Sand Mountain offers camel rides and sand surfing (sliding down steep dunes of powdery sand on wooden sleds) and a walk past Crescent Lake, a desert oasis that has meant salvation for travelers for millennia. (Photo by Tom Adkinson)
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