TW and Jo – Adventurers

Jiayuguan marks the last stop of the trip that we’ve made a plan for. We know that eventually we’d have to reach XiShuangBanna (really!) at the end of December to catch our flight back to Singapore, but how we are going to get there is still a mystery to us.

For now, our plan is to listen to what the other travellers are saying and after careful fact-checking and intense discussions, we’ll ditch the plan and just wing it.

So far, we’ve realized that the thing about winging it is that you’d never really know what is going to happen from day to day.

For example, when I woke up this morning, I did not expect myself to be Tomb Raider-ing through the caves of cliff-side temples before sun went down.

The day started innocently enough (don’t they always?). Jo was thumbing through our copy of Lonely Planet: China and felt that the description of the small town of Mati Si (马蹄寺) sounded “nice”. Looking at the map, Mati Si (besides sounding like an awesome Malay swear word) looked relatively near to Jiayuguan. Our original plan was to head straight for Xi’an via Lanzhou from Jiayuguan. However, since we had some time on our hands, we decided to do a quick detour to check out Mati Si.

To that, I only have one thing to say…

4 hours bumpy bus ride + 2 hours waiting in a dusty little town + 2.5 hours bumpiER bus ride = not THAT close to Jiayuguan.

On top of that, the first thing we found out when we reached Mati Si was that there was only one bus out of town everyday… at 8am in the morning… and also most of the town was closed because the tourist season was over. In fact, at that moment, there were only two shopkeepers in town who were willing to open up their shops as lodging for tourists.

So far,

Planning/Researching Ahead: 3
Winging it: 0

Since our quick detour seemed to be turning into a three-day side trip (arrival + one day tour + following morning departure), we decided to make the most of our time there and catch whatever sights we could while the sun was still up.

Right around the corner of our lodging, we saw this…

Temples carved into sandstone cliffs!!

Pretty darn impressive for something that just sounded “nice”.

But this is where it got even more awesome. The temples in the cliffs can actually be accessed… via vertigo-inducing staircases and narrow, twisting corridors. Some parts of the caves can only be reached using small hand/foot holds that had been cut into the walls.

It’s like rock climbing… only with the added bonus of an actual DESTINATION.

Jo - Tomb Raider

A view from the temple. With snowcapped mountains like these, who need sutras?

Score now
Planning/Researching Ahead: 3
Winging it: 100000000000000000000000000000

In other related news: I think I might’ve accidentally signed up for a climbing expedition. I’ve more or less resigned myself to the fact that we would be climbing up 1000000000000000000000000000 flights of stairs every other day.

Mati Si, of course, was no exception.

ahhh.... my mortal enemy... stairs...

Needless to say.. the view at the top is awesome... again....

3 thoughts on “TW and Jo – Adventurers

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