It is the 17th of July. I sit on a trunk at the side of the road and just finished the delicious watermelon which two old men brought along as present when we settled on their driveway in the shadow to have a break.
We left kashgar today and finally, after 5 days there, got back to cycling.
It was a wonderful time there in kashgar. The day we arrived we had easily made the 80km to the hostel, we both felt fit and fresh again after our little knockout-phase the week before.
The hostel was a little paradise. Located on the rooftop of an old jewelers market and in the center of the city it was perfect to explore all the parts of Kashgar. Alhough there were flees in the sheets and the goldsmiths began hammering every day at 6 o’clock we enjoyed the beds that we had missed for so long. Sleeping long was our everyday plan.
We went to the night market every evening to get delicious food and exotic dishes like goat-heads grilled and then fried. While Paul nearly bit his tooth out on a tooth of the goat, I tried the brain which, as they told us after we finished, we were not at all supposed to eat. It is the part they throw away. The rest, like the tong, the cheeks, the skin and the eyelids were really tasty. Thanks for sharing this information after dinner.
We experienced that some of the market-guys played tricks on us to get more money. They first told us a price, then served the dish and after we ate asked double or triple the price, doing as if we had misunderstood their offer. We fell for this trick two times but the third guy had to accept that we we’re not that stupid. We were kind of pissed about the fact that we got ripped of but decided to further trust the people rather than thinking that everyone of them just wants money. The prices we paid were still ridiculously low and although we obviously payed more than the locals we didn’t want to meet everyone of these market guys with distrust. And so we met Armantur. He spoke good English and offered us to give us a hand in finding the right places in Kashgar. He showed us all arround town, invited us for dinner, had pictures taken with us and him and gave us the prints of them the next day.
When I first saw him I thought he was a beggar, but he definetly was not. As he told us later, his clothes were dirty because he was working part time in building and part time as English teacher. He helped us getting a Chinese Sim-card, sending a package, finding a store to develop pictures, and again and again invited us for food, icecream, drinks and more. He was so friendly and although he obviously didn’t have much money, he denied our invitations every time. In opposite to many other people here, to him we were no money bringing stranger, but friends.
The market/bazaar in Kashagar is amazing. In every corner there is a oven for grilling meat or corn, everywhere you see the most delicious snacks through the smoke of cars, cigarets and fires. The noise is to be described by mixing the sound of a kindergarten, a highway , a zoo and a huge kitchen together.
In the evening everyone hung up little lanterns over their offers and tried to catch guests gathering as flys under their light.
We had a film developed and wanted to send these pictures to friends and family as postcards. After we wrote about 36 postcards we went to the postoffice just to be informed that the color, with which we had written( red) is not allowed in Chinese post. So yea, we had to write them all again. I think you can imagine how happy we were.
The women in the printshop where we had developed the pictures didn’t understand why we wanted to have the pictures a second time, but she did as we told her.
Again I had to notice that privacy in this country’s is not something that you have. A man came sitting next to me an began looking at my pictures. When I noticed, he was already half way through, held a picture in his hand and waved it like a trophy.
He began talking to the women and she nodded. The agreement was about our pictures. She had agreed with the man that he could get two of our digital pictures with mountains, Paul and our tent on it, without even asking us. I was really disturbed as the man suddenly pulled out a USB stick, plugged it in the computer and began coping our pictures to his stick. I said that this are our pictures and I don’t want anyone else to have them, not if I don’t known him. The both didn’t understand at all and only after I had pulled out his usb stick and said no real clearly, he seemed to understand my wish. Still he didn’t let loose and now wanted to have just one picture, a picture with a snowy mountain top. We both agreed for we don’t know if it had been a insult not to agree. In a country where you are squeezed against the ATM and people look over your shoulder to see how much money you wil get, privacy is nothing you can insist on. And making the people angry would only make it worse.
We met a lot of people in the hostel who were cycling as well and also some locals who know much about the Tibeb-situation. We talked to them about our plans an they could only disappoint us all the way. Not only Tibeb is closed for us, also some other parts of our route in china are not open for tourists. After thinking about other routes we decided the following. This might sound stupid to some of you and for sure is not a master-plan but we will try it anyway. We want to hear it from the police, from the border patrol, from the soldier or whatever, we want to hear live that it is not possible for us to go trough Tibeb. We have heard so many rumors about ” yes” and “no”, we have to see it for our selves. If we can’t get in, this means for us that we will have to cycle back about 500 km, back over a 5200 m high pass, back to the Taklamakan desert, were we are at the moment.
I hope so much that we can pass, I hope my dream will come true.
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