Barney: I think probably one of the most memorable things was going into the Buddhist caves. You could stand by a huge Buddha. Loye would go up by the toe and a toe would be as tall as she would be. And you would look up 400 and 500 feet and it was huge. The caves… (short pause) you weren’t supposed to take pictures inside the caves. But we always took as close as we could…(another pause) the pictures. A lot of artifacts were ransacked and taken to museums or there were Japanese invasions that destroyed the Buddha figures.
Loye: The further West we went the less damage we saw because really there was no one out there. We went into one cave. We walked a long way to the desert, to an area where we were told there was a burial area. It was just an opening in the ground. There were some people who had taken us there from the village. We walked…well the opening looked like it had been six or eight feet down under the channel and into a dark hole. They had flashlights and so we followed them down. There were two bodies laid out on a slab. They were dried human beings, Leathered and dried and preserved. They were supposed to have been very old. They said that they might have been 2000 years old. We had no idea if any of that was true or not but we knew that they had probably been there for a very long time. They were preserved…they were possibly some sort of royalty from that area, not kings or queens but resided in that part of the country. There was no signage, nothing that you could look at and see. I remember looking out from the train one time and seeing a horse’s head completely preserved out on the desert. The body had been taken to eat but they left the head. It looked kind of like a merry-go-round horse. People would sleep underground. They had incredible melons and grapes that they were able to grow by going almost a hundred miles to the mountains and digging down at the base of the mountains. The water ways that would be underground, but they would diminish in that depth as they were going West.
Barney: And then out in the middle of the desert you would have this huge green area where they would have grapes and melons and palm trees and oasis. It was just a fantastic thing.
Barney: Loye got terribly sick one time on the train and she started hallucinating and she starts going into tremors and all that. They found a doctor on board and she came and checked her out and made us pull out whatever medicines we had. Then she went through the whole train and made everybody show whatever medicines they had until she added up whatever it was that she thought she wanted and came back and treated her.
Loye: It could have been a respiratory illness. It was just a high fever. It was like a flu and nobody else got it. I had it from the time we left Xi’an. I got sick in Xi’an because it was so hot every day walking, walking, walking. Then we would come in and we had a fan in our room. Sometimes we would just have a bowl in our room to wash with. So I would throw water all over me and then lie under the fan. I don’t know if I gave myself this flu. I think that it is a really odd flu bug. I told my traveling companions that if we could just get on the train and sleep I would be alright. So we traveled for a couple of days and Barney, Susan, and Scott got off and looked at the new territory and I couldn’t even raise my head.
“You cannot even imagine the immensity of these things. Ancient cities carved in the mountain side with cave houses that people lived in for protection.” – Barney
“Thursday a.m.: up at 5:00. Car comes by 6:00. I’m sick, fever, and chills. I’m sick but will sleep on the train.” –Loye
“I have never been so sick, I can’t raise my head, high fever, can’t take much breath. Asked if there might be foreigners on the train with antibiotics. Check for PLA army doctor, she came, wonderful lady. Asked what I had taken; I said aspirin. Then medicine started coming from all directions. Little brown bags. Little bit of brown ones to hold under tongue. Then large chestnut brown pills. Taste like raw sugar and dung. I lived through the day and could raise my head the next morning. Went to dining car; we had eggs on top of noodles; I was revived. It was an easy day. Sleep.” -Loye