Kyrgyzstan, part 2

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Oh god, I'm already leaving Kyrgyzstan tomorrow. I love this place so much, and I met a cute Kyrgyz, ha. His name is Iliaz. He's so smart, observant, funny and looks kind of innocent. We went to swim in that lake the other day, and he asked me if my dad is Chinese, because he wasn't on the picture on my wallet. I was like...dude, when did you see my wallet?! That guy just sees everything, he's like a ninja.

We went hiking in Jeti Oguz gorg. Although it didn't seem that difficult, I really had difficulty breathing because it was still situated at some 2500 m in altitude. I wore a maxi dress and skate shoes, which is the worst combination, but whatever. Iliaz asked me if I brought a jacket because it will be cold up there. I didn't, but I told him that I will survive. After a while when we arrived at the waterfall, I started getting goosebumps. He noticed and gave me his jacket. Isn't he so observant? Who would look at people's skin for goosebumps? haha.

...but sometimes, it's not a good thing for guys to be too observant. This morning, he was like "how come you have red dots on your forehead? You didn't have that yesterday?". "Dude, those are acne," I said.

Just walking in Bishkek on a random day and saw these two soldiers who just stand there all day long.

There aren't many news on T.V. concerning Kyrgyzstan but when there is; this is the building that is always shown. Sometimes, it's sad that they only report bad news and not the good ones, because it's such a wonderful place.

I was walking on the main streets on Bishkek, and there were many tourists taking my picture. I'm sure they will post those pictures on facebook and tell people what a Kyrgyz woman looks like. I thought that was so funny. Iliaz told me to be careful and to not go out alone because I'm pretty and look Kyrgyz, so I could potentially be kidnapped to become someone's wife. Bride kidnapping is a very common problem in Kyrgyzstan.

Bishkek feels old with the soviet style buildings, but it's growing very quickly towards a direction that we cannot clearly see. It's the city I'm most curious about; I would really like to see what it would look like five or ten years from now.

How many bulls can you see?

A cute kid :)

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Chinese Muslim Mosque.

Balbal. Tombstones used by Turkish soldiers...

Burana Tower

Kids in Tamga Village.

Valley of fairytales.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I'm in Kyrgyzstan and I haven't showered for three days, haha.

Kyrgyzstan is the least developed country of former Soviet Union and it is not well known in general, which is great because it is not influenced by tourism. It's a country that still embraces nomadic traditions and the landscape is the most beautiful I've seen. Most of the country is composed of mountains, lakes and glaciers.

When I arrived here, someone told me that I looked like a Kyrgyz woman and I was like, how?! I didn't realize that Kyrgyz people actually look similar to Mongols, but there are also many Russians that live in Bishkek as well.

I took a bus from China into no man's land. I wasn't sure what to pack when I was in Montreal, because I'm a very compact person and I don't like to carry things that I will only use once or twice or just in case. So, I just packed a leather jacket. The weather actually went below zero at night, but I survived...because I'm Canadian.

I slept in a family-owned yurt camp that was situated at about 3100 meters above sea level, which is why I haven't showered. It was too cold.

This little donkey kept following me, because I fed him cookies that I didn't want anymore. I swore that I would not touch foreign animals, because I didn't take any shots...but dude, isn't that the cutest thing in the world? And donkeys are very hard-working as well, which is why I like them.

Hehe :)

A lady making a carpet.

There is basically nothing to do here, so I climbed the closest mountain. The view was amazing. Also, I get to pee in the cleanest toilet in the world; the nature, haha. But seriously, there are toilets not too far from the yurts, which are basically holes dug into the ground...but I just prefer the bush.

Pass 32; Mountains and mountains and more mountains....

Behind is the Song-Kol lake, which is the second largest alpine lake in Kyrgyzstan.

The only sink in the yurt camp.

It was very quite; you cannot hear any sounds except the stream and a cow once in a while. You get the feeling that you're part of a painting.

I love Kyrgyzstan so far; it's a place I can imagine myself living in. I could eat yogurt and mutton everyday, yummy :)


Monday, 24 September 2012

When you feel like a minority in your own country, hehe.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

This morning, I returned to the station for my next train journey to Kashgar, which is 24 hours away. The train station is one of the dirtiest I've seen. I feel like it's such a battle everytime I come to a train station; I need to carry my suitcase, my sport bag, my purse and my shopping bag for food through the mass of people spitting, camping, littering, eating, sleeping, screaming over each other everywhere. In a way, I've always loved China because it's ridiculous and brilliant; kids walking around with holes in their pants, old men carrying their little radio around, and turn it up so loud that everyone can hear, you will rarely offend anyone no matter how different you are and people can laugh at themselves, etc.

Waking up to this view on the train. Isn't that amazing?

Kashgar is in China but if the signs were not written in Han Chinese, I seriously would never know that this place is part of China. In Kashgar, I visited the bazaar and the Id Kah Mosque square where you can see camels and donkeys parked there. I had plenty of yummy food as well.

Kashgar is probably my second favorite city in China so far. The first one will always be Hangzhou because I grew up so much in that place.

The Sunday Bazaar is the main attraction in Kashgar. There is one inside the city and another one outside known as the animal market, which is my favorite. It is smelly and dirty, and animals poops are everywhere...but it's very interesting and authentic if you're open-minded. It's a big part of their culture as well. You can spend hours snapping pictures and watching farmers trading goats, camels, donkeys, cows, etc. It was fun!

Most of them are very nice; they posed for me when they saw me with my camera :)

It's so cute; a kid with his donkey :) Honestly, I saw some cute Uighur men; they look so charming with their mustache. asked me to take a picture of him, so I did. He asked me if I'm Han, and kept telling me how pretty I am...but how does he know that I'm pretty or not behind my huge sunglasses? Anyways. Then, he gave me his phone number on a piece of paper and asked me to call him. I was like...okay? Lastly, he asked me to marry him. I was like...euh, no. It was funny.

From Kashgar, the roads lead into the countries that end with "stan". Guess where I'm heading next?


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

So, what did I do on the train for 35 hours? I slept through part of it, read a few pages of my book and fell back asleep again, walked through the carriages, played minesweeper, watched the landscape changing from region to region; dusty and hot Gobi deserts to factory towns and mountains, and more mountains and nothingness. This is also one of the least traveled routes for foreigners.

In the hard sleeper carriage. I traveled solf sleeper class because it was a long journey, and I needed a bit of privacy. I've never had so much packaged food in my life. I have so much acne on my face now :(

2500 KM and 35 hours later, I arrived in Turpan, which was once an important location on the silk road. In Turpan, Uighur people are the majority and Han Chinese are the minority. Most signs are written in both Han Chinese characters and Uighur language, which looks like Arabic but not quite. Uighur are so friendly; they are smiling all the time. I instantly fell in love. In terms of appearance, they look mixed; some look like they come from across the border while some have minor Eastern Asian features.

The weather is terribly hot and dry here, because it's the lowest point in China. The mountains are brown, the houses are brown; it looks like a desert. It reminds me of that movie "Journey to the West".

An Uighur kid.

Houses made of mud and bricks in Tuyok village.

Tuyok village.

Uighur bread; Nang.

Turpan is famous for their grapes. And look at that smile :)

Dated sometime before Christ, Jiaohe is the best preserved ancient towns. It also helps that it almost never rains in Turpan.

The whole town is sand-colored. You could walk for hours and hours in this deserted place. It was awesome; I've never seen anything like this before. This place is also a little mysterious; people have different versions of the reason for which it has been abandoned. Some say that the rivers dried out, some say it has been destroyed by the mongols. There was also a baby cemetery, and no one knows why so many babies died.

I love the desertic landscape.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Xi'an is a place still surrounded by its city walls. It used to be the capital of China for a long time and personally, I like Xi'an better. It was once the starting point of the trading route on the silk road. There are many muslims living here who are mostly Hui people. When I arrived in Xi'an, I went straight to the muslim quarter for some muslim noodles; it was yummy!

Currently, there are some events in Xi'an concerning some islands that China is claiming, and historically belongs to China too, but Japan claims the opposite. September 18 is also the first day that Japan invaded China, so many places are closed and there are many police cars on the streets. I was even told to hide anything Japanese that I own. Honestly, I don't particularly like Japan either, but I think this is a little exaggerated...and it is used as an excuse for everything. My train to Turpan has been cancelled, the drum and bell towers are closed, the fountain show is cancelled...

I slept on a hard sleeper train to Xi'an. The compartments have six beds and are open-plan. I knew it wasn't going to be clean or anything, but it's the best way to travel for locals, and it's good to come face to face with the country. You can see a sense of community here; people sharing food, playing cards, sitting on your bed when you're not even awake (?!).

On the ancient culture street. I was wondering what he was doing...I still haven't figured out.

People playing Mahjong on the streets...just like in movies :)

I always wanted to try these, because I see them in ancient Chinese movies, but when I asked my mom where I can eat those, she said something like it's fictitious or that it doesn't exist anymore?

It's wedding season in China.

The terracotta warriors is one of the must-see in Xi'an. It was only discovered about 30 years ago; it has never been recorded in any history books. I always knew that every one of them has a different face, but I always thought that they used imaginary faces...but the workers who made them actually reproduced their own face. It's a little scary to think those faces used to be real, and how many people died for those terracotta warriors...some looked happy, some looked sad, some are handsome, some are ugly...

The Terracotta warriors were destroyed by Xiang Yu, and this one is the only one that was found intact. How lucky is this guy?

I'm getting on the train again! This time, it will be a journey of about 35 hours. I'm going to Turpan, which is situated at 154 meters below see level. It's the lowest point in China, and second lowest in the world, it sounds cool, right? I still need to go to the supermarket to stock up :)
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