Dumptruck Hitchhiking

We took a marshrutka, a Soviet minibus, out of Karakol. The rundown town faded into the distance, and we were soon knee deep in the Kyrgyz countryside. Dirt roads, tall grass, short trees and fading jalopies. The marshrutka’s driver dropped us off at a handful of huts, smoke from a wood fire pouring out of …

Continue reading ‘Dumptruck Hitchhiking’ »

Camping at Bezeklik    

The next day, we went back to the Bezeklik. This time, we got rides from local vans leaving from Turpan’s bazaar, heading to the general area called Shengjin, an irrigated valley that drained into the canyon where the Bezeklik caves were. It was in this area that the mummies and the world’s oldest drug dealer …

Continue reading ‘Camping at Bezeklik    ’ »

Initial Conclusions about China’s National Parks

   “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man con only mar it.” – Theodore Roosevelt’s advice on the Grand Canyon   Our recent trips out into Tianchi National Park and Nanshan have taught us a little about China and its wild spaces. …

Continue reading ‘Initial Conclusions about China’s National Parks’ »

Nanshan

The landscape shifted rapidly from farmland to lifeless desert hills to mountainous foothills speckled with shrubs. Finally, we arrived in the green cocoon of the Tianshan Mountains, at a place called Nanshan. Near the parking lot of Nanshan Getting out at the parking lot of Nanshan was not all that different from the parking lot …

Continue reading ‘Nanshan’ »

Night – Tianchi Part II

Make sure you check out the previous post before reading this one. The temperature cooled as we moved deeper into the valley behind the lake. We had abandoned the lake, the Tianchi National Park’s main tourist draw, looking for something wild. We followed the concrete spillway up the creek as the sun dropped below the …

Continue reading ‘Night – Tianchi Part II’ »

Day – Tianchi Part I

Tianchi National Parks is one of the most famous in China. The word, “Tianchi,” means “Heavenly Lake” in Chinese, and, staring out over the lake, it is easy to see why, long ago, it was given that name. The alpine lake is nestled among steep mountain walls on either side, some of the walls lush …

Continue reading ‘Day – Tianchi Part I’ »

Camping At Mogao Caves

When we had been at the Mogao Caves the day before, a light breeze whisked through the leaves of the trees planted beside the caves. The next day, though, as we were walking into the desert to find a campsite, the wind whipped across the desert hills. Storming out of the red mountains that face …

Continue reading ‘Camping At Mogao Caves’ »

At Grandpa’s

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited, but I couldn’t stay away, couldn’t fight it… Adele, Someone Like you If you haven’t read the two previous posts, make sure to check those out here and here before reading this one. We got out of the white SUV and the driver, the pudgier …

Continue reading ‘At Grandpa’s’ »

Hike up Maya Snow Mountain – Tibetan Gansu Part III

If you haven’t already checked out Part I or Part II of this series, take a look at them before reading this post. In the 1990’s, our Tibetan friend had once done the hike we were doing, though it was different. Back then, they had travelled on foot from their village for two days. They …

Continue reading ‘Hike up Maya Snow Mountain – Tibetan Gansu Part III’ »

Approach up Maya Snow Mountain – Tibetan Gansu Part II

Note: If you haven’t already read the post about Huazangsi, click here. We were moving up out of the city and on the mountain road by 5:45. Though the sun had not yet risen, light illuminated the brown, scrub-less hills. The air had not quite dropped to freezing where we were, but, in the mountains, …

Continue reading ‘Approach up Maya Snow Mountain – Tibetan Gansu Part II’ »