As Arkan's (local Xinjiang singer who gracefuly combines traditional sounds with clasical/spanish guitar) song says: "Xinjiang is a good place". Every time I have the opportunity to share about my trip with someone I discover how blessed we are to have been in this "piece of middle east"...
These are some funny things that happened on the last days of out trip:
- We woke up early to travel to Burqin, 7 people in the car: Martin, Stephan, Mark, Dom, Sheila, me and our Han chinese driver. We were too spoiled by having the wonderful experience of riding Ibrahim's car.. his sweet personality, knowledge of the best restaurants for the tipical food and amazing attitude made all the difference. In this new trip our driver was not as friendly as Ibrahim, wanted to take us to the restaurants he liked (that had nothing to do with tipical Xinjiang food) and made us wait outside of the militar gas station where he got free gas.
- We got too many snacks for the road: nuts, hazzlenuts, dates, raisins, sweets... we were tired of so many snacks after the second day.
- After a long trip we arrived to Burqin, we shared a delicious watermelon (that Dom broke gracefuly letting it fall in the floor) watching the sunset in the harbor and we went for more Polo and Kebabs in the night market where sellers wanted to drag us to their "restaurants".
- Finally in our route to Kanas Lake! This is a beautiful lake very close to the border with Mongolia, Russia and Kazakstan. First of all, we needed to find accomodation so we went to see the houses next to the lake. After realizing that they would have no heating, seeing the wholes in the wooden walls, checking the temperature and by the hint of the huge "army style" green jackets they were offering us, we decided to go to the "village" to find a warmer place to sleep. We staid in a big wooden house in two rooms, one for the guys and one for the girls... on this time guys were luckier as they got the warm room while we were freezing in the morning trying to cover every centimeter of skin with the sleeping bag.
- On that day we rented horses from the people in the village (Mongolians) and went around with them for about an hour, time enough for Sheila to get scared of his temperamental horse and for the guide (who was walking behind us instead of riding with us) to get tired and request for the money (20 yuan) and the horses back.
- Other unforgetable moment in this horse ride was when my PM called me and I could hardly talk about the issue he needed to solve because
1. my horse was jumping
2. I did not know how to make it stop jumping
3. I could hardly concentrate....
- We were so hungry after the ride that we went for a chinese restaurant... very expensive (for the standard of the region) but we got quite decent eggs with tomato.
Mark's stomack was not so happy so he preffered to stay in the village while we went trecking to a high point where we could see Mongolia and Russia.
In the afternoon and, after walking back to the village, we drove to a place closer to Ghost city where we spent the night in very unexpensive accomodation.
- We woke up to drive to Urumqi, in the way I finished the Bookseller of Kabul and had time to think and write about gender issues in Colombia... is incredible how much your way of looking at your own traditions changes when exposed to a different option... I will write a blog post about it later..
We passed by "Ghost city", amaaazzzzzing! Took some beautiful pictures there.
We said goodbye to Mark , Martin and Stefan before heading for Turpan, our last stop.
- In Turpan, we got a lady taxi driver that took us through the interesting places... some places where more of a tourist trap (like the private show of Uigur music where we paid 5Y for a picture) and some where just really cool (like the place with 1001 types of raisins... yummi!)
- Flaming mountain is realllyyyyy hot!!! People says that in the middle of summer, you can fry an egg on the stones there...
- Go home, we had our last lunch with Lamb dumplings, coconut juice and kebab while we discovered that it might be time to go home...
- After boarding the bus at Turpan I discovered that I needed a badroom urgently. After stoping in the middle of the road and me, refusing to do what I needed in front of a bus full of people ++, we got to a public bathroom on the side of the road... I found what happiness ment in that moment
- We made it to the plane for 5 minutes! When arriving in the bus station the taxi driver discouraged us because we were too far away of the airport!!! Ahhh!! When we finally made it, the girl in the counter could not understand what an e-ticket was and tried to suggest me to buy a new ticket... at the end everything was fine thanks to my dear friend Jia...
This was an unforgetable trip!
Next day I was back working in Beijing... finishing work, preparing to say goodbye to my new-old friends and getting ready to come back to Oslo where friends, responsabilities, plans and adventures where waiting for me...