PRESTONSBURG – What did you do this summer? Go to the beach, camp or perhaps had a staycation close to home.
For Dr. Chenzhao Vierheller, professor of Biology at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, a trip to her native land was one of a lifetime.
Vierheller travelled more than 13,000 miles roundtrip for a nine-day excursion to the remote parts of western China. “It was an amazing trip,” said Vierheller, who took the tour with her son Warren, 23, a graduate school student in South Korea. “I was glad to experience local culture with the native Uyghurs and other minorities. This part of China is home to several minority groups, including Muslims and Buddhists with eastern Asia and European backgrounds.”
The trip along the Silk Road offered a little bit of everything, according to Chenzhao. “We toured lakes and glaciers, took a camel ride in the desert and visited Turpan where the temperature was 115 degrees.”
Some highlights of the tour were the camel trek through the Taklimakan desert, where Chenzhao and Warren slept in a tent. They also toured the Shipton’s Arch, the world’s largest arch at over 1,200 feet (or the height of the Empire State building).
In Turpan, the oldest city built of mud in the world, Chenzhao and Warren toured the Kariz Underground Water System, one of China’s most ancient engineering feats with more than 3,100 miles of service. The system was built 2,500 years ago. “This was a unique experience for me and my son,” said Chenzhao.
“There are not many regions of the world where you can tour the desert, glaciers and other historical sites within a region.”