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Nestled deep in the eastern reaches of the Taklamakan desert, Dunhuang was once a byword for remoteness. The new airport means visitors can arrive in just a couple of hours as opposed to the couple of months it once took the hardy desert caravan traders. It is the westernmost town in Gansu province and lies only a few miles from the Xinjiang province border. The big draw here is the Mogao Grottoes, a series of several hundred caves where a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist carvings, murals and manuscripts were discovered. When Marco Polo passed through here, he wrote of "the rumbling sands" due to the strange noise the shifting dunes make when disturbed by wind.

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I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson

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So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
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