xi's moments
Home | City Tour

Sharing special moments atop camels and dunes

By Erik Nilsson | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-23 07:10

"Hey! Don't get run over by that camel caravan!" I yelled to my daughter.

It's something I'd never expected to have to say.

But I meant it.

My 7-year-old was wading through the sand of Dunhuang's Singing Dunes as a column of camels lumbered toward her without any sign of slowing down.

"I'm trying to get out of the way, Dad!" Lily shouted.

But the area where she was walking was difficult to trudge through - for humans, at least. The dune's gradient buried our feet up to our shins and dribbled down the incline with each step. It was like trying to walk around inside the top half of a flowing hourglass.

Indeed, despite tying cloth boot covers over our feet, we spent the following days trying to exorcize the last of the sand from our shoes, pockets and bodies.

It didn't help that we'd also made "sand angels" and rolled down the slopes for fun.

Moments before Lily's close call, we were ourselves enjoying smooth rides atop the bumpy backs of the ungulates in the oasis city in Gansu province.

The Gobi's sandy mounds mashed for hundreds of kilometers beyond the horizon.

My daughter was mesmerized by the feel of the sand and sight of the desolate expanse - that is, until a sandstorm scoured our skin and assaulted our eyes.

Lily expressed a new appreciation for what ancient Silk Road traders had endured as they navigated the desolate deserts.

"I like riding camels," she told me. "But I'm glad we're leaving on a plane."

We later zipped down the slopes on bamboo toboggans.

Lily slalomed from left to right.

I shot straight down the dune and right through - rather than over - the sandy speed bump staffers had built at the end of the run. It seemed to detonate upon impact, causing an explosion of sand that splashed over my head.

The crowd below and even the workers who'd built the barrier yelled in shock and giggled with amusement.

As we were trekking out of the dunes, a green glint peaking out of the yellow earth caught my eye. I turned to catch a better look while walking through a particularly steep spot and fell.

My hand landed on the mysterious object. I closed my fist and pulled it out of the ground.

I found myself holding a polished stone emblazoned with a golden inscription in Tibetan.

I sent a photo to an ethnic Tibetan friend, asking him what it meant.

"It's a Buddhist scripture," he told me.

"It means you'll find good luck." It seemed I already had.

The amulet is unlikely to be valuable or rare - we'd seen many like it heaped in bargain bins at the city's night market. But the way I came upon it seemed at least special and, at most, unbelievable.

I'm not superstitious - at all.

Yet there are moments that make even me wonder.

This was one of them.

I gave the sparkling stone to my daughter as a memento to remember the wonderful and wondrous times we spent together in the sand.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349