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Sharing the treasures

By Chen Meiling in Beijing and Ma Jingna in Lanzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-08 10:36
For Bian Lei, a professional guide at the Mogao Grottoes, the site is more a spring than a pond. It offers peace and inspiration to people who are anxious about life in these modern times. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1987, the site was one of the first Chinese ones to be designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

To explain the Mogao Grottoes to tourists, Bian and his colleagues have to read and memorize a wide range of material.

"Tourists come here with many unanswered questions. And our task is to transform the question marks into exclamation marks," he says.

"For instance, some ask why the area is called the Mogao Grottoes.

"Mogao has several connotations in Chinese - the highland of the desert or the highest place ever."

Last year, the Mogao Grottoes welcomed 1.73 million visitors, with about 5 to 10 percent being foreigners. And the average daily number of visitors is about 6,000, says Bian.

Speaking about how he relaxes after work, he says: "After returning home I don't want to talk anymore."

In 1979 when the Mogao Grottoes were first opened to the public, Dunhuangology experts played the roles of guides. But there are now 150 people today, providing guide services in six languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Korean.

Li Yaping, a female guide, is one of those who has been at the site for the past 10 years.

After graduating from college, Li did 50 days of training, before being employed as a guide.

Every day Li walks on the same roads, into the same caves, and speaks the same words, but adds that she does not feel bored.

Agreeing with her description of the job, Bian says: "The Mogao Grottoes is more a spring than a pond. It offers peace and inspiration to people who are anxious about life in these modern times."

For Bian Lei, a professional guide at the Mogao Grottoes, the site is more a spring than a pond. It offers peace and inspiration to people who are anxious about life in these modern times. [Photo provided to China Daily]
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