Dunhuang used to be a remote outpost in NW China and a major oasis on the Silk Road. It’s situated between the Gobi Desert on the East, and the Taklamakan Desert on the West. The Taklamakan persists as a treacherous desert (its meaning “if you go in, you don’t come out”). My interest was in visiting the World Heritage site of the Caves of 1000 Buddhas. There are exquisite paintings on the walls of these sandstone caves, created between the 4th and the 14 centuries when these oases used to be Buddhist. The old khanates were overrun by Muslim hordes and the current day countries in Central Asia are all nominally Muslim.