For information on the background of this series see The Introduction.
Xuanzang crosses the desert and reaches Gaochang, where he is welcomed by the King who is Han Chinese (627). He stays in the capital Jiaoche where he teaches Buddhism to the King, the monks and the people.
The King wants him to take up residence there and be the preceptor, but Xuanzang is determined to carry on his journey. Initially rhe King refuses permission for him to leave, but after he nearly fasts himself to death, he finally understands his determination, and after taking a vow of brotherhood, he provides him with a caravan of 30 horses, an entourage and four monastic disciples to accompany him.
The first stop on the way is Yanqi, which is a lawless country where the caravan gets robbed, but it is otherwise unharmed – unlike some impatient merchants who travel on ahead and are all slaughtered. It is in Yanqi that Xuanzang’s Records of the Western Lands begin.
Xuanzang quickly passes through Yanqi spending only one night in that state, and moves on to the Buddhist Kingdom of Quici in Kuch, where he spends two months waiting for the Spring to come.
We see paintings from the Kizil Caves and also the Subashi Ruins, before Xuanzang crosses the dangerous Pamirs via Mt. Ling, a crossing that took seven days and cost nearly half of his party, including two of his disciples.
Eventually he emerges into Central Asia and near to Lake Issyk Kul, where the party recuperates. But to cross into India he must meet with the Turkic Khan at his capital Suyab and get his permission.
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Some Stills from the Documentary