German adventurers travel 13,000km to Shanghai
Two buses carrying 55 Germans all the way from Germany to China along ancient routes have arrived in Shanghai on the last stop of their 53-day, 13,000-kilometer cultural expedition.
The “cultural envoys,” from all walks of life, including doctors, professors and architects, traveled from Hamburg to Shanghai via Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
They arrived at the 632-meter-high Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China and the second-tallest in the world, on Friday afternoon, marking the end of their trans-Eurasian continental trip.
And, coincidentally, an exhibition telling the history and culture of Dunhuang, an oasis town on the ancient Silk Road, is on display in the Shanghai Tower.
Highlight of the exhibition is three life-sized replicas of the famous Mogao Caves murals -- also known as the Thousand Buddha grottoes -- which date back to the 5th to early 11th centuries, in northwest China’s Gansu Province. Other prized exhibits include bronzeware, gold jewelry and Buddhist sutras.
“My wife and I had visited Shanghai 15 years ago, and we feel such great changes. Last time, the tallest building in Shanghai was Jin Mao,” said one of the travelers Rainer Holtschneider, referring to the 420.5-meter Jin Mao Tower.
He said he was greatly impressed by the different landscapes and cultures along the journey -- which covered almost a third off the world's circumference.
“We spent a night in mountains at a height of more than 3,000 meters, and we had arrived somewhere below sea level, enduring a heat wave,” he said.
“Every moment during the journey, from coffee breaks, to horn-honking to morning call, has been imprinted on my mind. It’s the most unforgettable journey of my life.”
Another traveler, Volkhart Brethfeld, said he felt uneasy during the visit to Eastern Europe, where Nazi Germany had initiated bloody wars.
In the Middle East, where the expedition included visits to almost 20 IslamiIic schools, he felt a strong religious atmosphere in every place.
Before the journey, he knew little about China, and it opened a whole new world to him.
“We experienced the completely different cultures here," he said.
"We visited China’s largest desert, Taklamakan, the renowned Mogao Caves and China’s iconic Terracotta Army in China’s western regions,.
“The eastern regions of China feature more people and more bustling traffic, and also greater infrastructure, especially convenient highways.
"The Chinese government has made remarkable achievements in the last 10 to 20 years.”
He said the two countries should improve cultural exchanges to get to know each other better.