i’ll keep this short … because i still need to pack. i leave tomorrow — really later today — for a national day (oct. 1) holiday trip to xinjiang, the huge territory that occupies the northwest corner of china. and then i’m heading to the very, very top of it, a lake called kanas that sits close to khazakstan, russia and mongolia.
we’re doing a week-long hiking/camping trip through the altay mountains (a chinese guidebook to the area features the english words “asian switzerland,” so i’m expecting lots of blondes, banks, chocolate and clocks) and eventually ending up at the remote kanas lake. (actually, it’s not that remote. it’s also accessible by a very long bus ride, which no doubt is what almost all of the chinese tourists will opt for. so, i’m expecting this lake in the middle of nowhere to be crowded, noisy and smoky, like everywhere else in china during a holiday.)
but maybe we’ll never even make it to kanas. we’ve heard that it’s pretty damn cold there right now. we’ve also heard sketchy reports of heavy snow. we’ve also heard not-so-sketchy reports of a nearby earthquake that measured a not-so-small 7.9. and to top it all off one of my students warned me that xinjiang was unsafe: “all of the men carry knives. be careful.”
but i’m sure my new high-quality $24 tent will keep the elements and knife-wielding men at bay. (see image below)
this trip actually was the brainchild of fellow blogger wang jian shuo, but he had to back out because he’s getting married or something like that. five of us, however, opted to stay single and go for the less-daunting task of hiking 70 km through a sub-siberian climate. there are three americans in our group and two chinese, so it could get interesting — these are two cultures that travel differently. our plans already include some items that will be new experiences for me: we are traveling with a guide and two groomsmen … for our seven horses!
i’ll see you back in shanghai on october 9.
09.29.2003, 3:34 AM · Xinjiang