Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kashgar and Lake Karakul

I'm still in Kashgar - I think I'm leaving tomorrow for Urumqi.

Kashgar doesn't feel like China. Many many people don't speak any Chinese but only their native Central Asian language, most of which use a modified Arabic script. It's really strange to see Chinese characters and Arabic letters on signs all over town, and interestingly enough it makes Chinese, both the language and the Han people, seem foreign and a bit unwelcome. In any case, this is a fun place to walk around through bazaars and winding alleys of old houses. Hopefully some of the pictures will turn out.

Yesterday I went up towards the border with Pakistan to Lake Karakul, a beautiful blue lake in an alpine meadow. I walked all the way around it, which may have been a mistake since one end was pretty marshy and populated by more mosquitos than the Amazon. During my navigation of puddles, streams, and mud, I found myself walking along a sand bar that separated the main lake from the surrounding puddles. It seemed firm enough until I came upon a little stream flowing over the top of it, no more than 2 feet wide, but when I stepped next to it the ground suddenly sunk beneath me, filling my shoes with sand and soaking me up to my knees. And the mosquitos wouldn't give me a minute's rest to stop and get the sand and little rocks out. What inconsiderate creatures.

On the lakeshore, there were many local people who had built an extra yurt that tourists could stay in, but the idea of spending a night on a yak rug with my allergies was less than attractive, so I took the bus back in the afternoon. All went well until we came upon a huge mudslide with a creek running down it, all snowmelt from the surrounding mountains. It took more than an hour for the earthmoving machine to arrive and finally clear a car-wide alleway through the muck. I didn't really mind the wait, though, as the surrounding canyon was beautiful and watching someone scoop mud off the road can actually be quite entertaining.

Since today's my last day in town, I'm going to get out and walk around.

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