16 May TIansui – Lanzhou
The main highlight of today’s drive was a visit to the isolated Shui Lian Dong and Water Curtain Cave. We were able to drive the cars right up to the foot of these amazing cliff paintings and sculptures. As we drove, the landscape was stunning, tall bare weather worn rounded mountains of rock appeared from nowhere. Some slopes were covered with purple clumps of flowers which we found out later as we walked up to the temples and monastery were liliac bushes. The landforms are known as Danxia landforms and form stone like forests.
Three Massive clay sculptures clung to the cliffs – one of Buddha and the other two his first faithful disciples. Surrounding these sculptures were painting of elephants, lions, goats and asparas – the winged angel assistants. Moving to the other side of the gorge we climbed to the monastery and water curtain cave, passing by liliac bushes and some lovely yellow flowers which looked like banksia roses hanging over the steps and steep pathway we had to climb. At every turn we were able to view the tall Buddha sculptures on the other side of the gorge.
As I mentioned the landscape was now changing every day. We were also climbing in altitude as we drove to the NW.