Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, January 06, 2008
The China Chronicles - Lake Karakul
When we last left the China Chronicles, we had ventured out from Kashgar along the Karakorum Highway towards the border of Pakistan along the highest international paved road in the world. Our destination was Karakul Lake. Definitely one of the most beautiful, if not harsh, places on earth I have ever been.

Prior to this trip, the harshest, most remote spot on earth I have ever visited, was in the heart of the Australian Outback in the mid 90's, when I had a chance to visit Idalia National Park, about 1,000 km west of Brisbane to help a friend work on her PhD research. We spent 3 weeks living in tents, putting radio tracking collars on red kangaroos, and being part of an Aussie TV special on kangaroo research.

Lake Karakul is more remote than that, and yet, it is more accessible. To get to Idalia National Park, we had to drive hours over open Outback on rutted dirt roads in specially equipped SUVs called "Troopies" i.e. Oz speak for Izuzu Troopers. We got to Karakul Lake in a modern tour bus on a decent highway.

But once you get there - it takes your breath away:

We had one of the more memorable meals of our trip up here. Here, at the top of the world, in the middle of quite literally nowhere, we were ushered into a small yurt with about ten tables. I was expecting hot tea, maybe some rice and bread, but these local women kept coming in with plate after plate of steaming food, noodles, vegetables and meat. It was simply wonderful. I have no idea how they even cooked food at that altitude, it must take a half hour just to boil an egg, but it was amazing.

The top of the yurt:


A shy girl sneaking out the side of the yurt:

A Uighur woman. This woman's face absolutely embodies the beauty of the Uighur people.

As does this woman. I borrowed this photo from my friend in Beijing who took it:

Not only were the people stunning, so was the landscape:

The very few people who live here, live a very simple life:

The water was just this incredible Cerulean Blue color:

Well, after we came back to Kashgar that evening, we had dinner in a lovely local restaurant, and since we were there during Ramadan, it was quite festive with families gathering to break fast and eat a good meal. Early the next morning, we bordered a flight back to Urumqi, and that evening another flight all the way back to Beijing - we were exhausted.

I spent my last day in Beijing visiting the Silk Market and the Temple of Heaven before packing for an early morning flight back to the US the following day. It was quite an adventure.

I'll post some of the last photos of the people I saw in the park at the Temple of Heaven, and then I will post a link to all the China Chronicle posts in one post since they have been spread out over the last 3 months.

When I got back from China, it had seemed like I had experienced enough in three weeks to fill three months, and I guess I did!
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:36 PM  
2 Editorial Opinions:
  • At January 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    The two women are actually Kyrgyz, not Uyghur (or Uighur). As a Uyghur myself, I can tell the difference.


  • At January 09, 2008, Blogger trigimper said…

    I only recently discovered your blog (no idea how, click-click-click on others). The pictures of China are simply beautiful, and took me back to my own travels over there.

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