Ah May day. The first of May, Spring is in the air and
millions of workers celebrate there power over the capitalist yoke.
Unfortunately in china they don't get many Holidays so they take to it with a
gusto rarely seen else where. Buses Trains Taxis Trucks and rickshaws are all
filled as the Chinese take off home for a well deserved break. This means
everything stops. There not like the French they don't take six weeks, only
four days but this can be frustrating when your trying to do something silly
like leave the country.
On the way here we went to Heavenly Lake which is billed as a little peace of Switzerland in China. It is a very pretty glacial lake that the Chinese are improving. There is nothing in China that cannot be improved with the addition of concrete and flashing lights. That goes double for nature reserves.Just when you think you've escaped the masses you will wind up beside a water fall with a security camera and little speaker (generally badly disguised as a rock) blaring out relaxing Chinese music . The Lake was no exception with the dozers at work adding more paths and view decks.
Today we took a taxi to the border which is about three and a half hours drive from Kashgar towards Osh. Taxis here aren't expensive. The ride was about $90 split three ways. The Chinese excel in people moving. Buses Trains and airplanes leave on time, or even early if there full. Waiting rooms are divided into sections and at the required time you are efficiently headed on to your choice of conveyance. We probably would of left a couple of days ago but the holiday took care of that. The border doesn't open till eleven, so we left Kashgar at seven am which is not as bad as it sounds. Everything in China runs on Beijing time which is only two hours behind Melbourne. When you get way out west the sun rises about eight and sets about ten, perfect for those who like a sleep in. The story at the border is having caught your taxi, you cue up at eleven to beat the trucks and head across to Kyrgyzstan. Once through the Chinese side you then have to either walk 3 km or hitch a ride with a truck to the Kirghiz checkpoint. Some times you can walk but at others it is forbidden so your stuck waiting for a truck to clear the check point. Then if you get past the check point on the Kirghiz side all you have to do is negotiate with a taxi driver who may or may not be there, a fare in a currency you don't have. Another 6 hours on worse roads and your there. Osh that is. I'm not there. Some one forgot to tell the boarder check point that the holiday was over so the have decided to take another couple of days off. We had been assured that the border would be open by several people but as in China none seems to really know whats happening. So another 4 hours back to Kashgar picking up a couple of fares on the way to help pay for the return trip. Micheal offended the driver by wearing a seat belt. The buckle is normally tucked down the back of the seat far from reach. Sharp, spiky or unknown slimy things are then placed around it to deter any one who would want to retrieve it. Unfortunately after years of living in the Nanny State Micks primal urge for survival overrode all and he managed to retrieve it. He was made to take it of when we arrived back at Kashgar so none of the taxi drivers peers would tease him.You can check out someone else's description at http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Kyrgyzstan/blog-392786.html
Kashi(Kashgar) is a lovely little town of about 300,000 people permanently shrouded in a haze of Coal Smoke from Kitchens, Kebab ovens, hot water heaters. and power stations. Add to this a couple of hundred thousand untuned diesel trucks, pit toilets and burning rubbish piles and your beginning to get the ambiance. About 98 % of the oxygen has been removed at ground level. The haze gradual disappears a you ascend into the hills and disappears totaly at 10,000 meters where your left with about 2% oxygen. Generally your not going to breath well in China.There is a nice old center of town which is being progressively demolished to make way for a few more empty shopping malls or multi story housing commission style apartment blocks. In town drivers using rules that make Kaos theory in Greek look simple try to annihilate any form of life at street level. Feeds of Lamb are mandatory . Local dishes are polove(polo) rice and carrot stewed with fatty lamb shanks(very nice not recommended by the heart foundation), Lamb Kebab with chunks of lamb fat, Lamb liver Kabab, Lamb Lahuan(with noodles),Fatty Lamb pastries and a deadly mix of Ice, local water, yogurt and sugar that looks great but is guaranteed to kill you faster than Phillip Nietzsche. Pleasant merchants try to sell you carpets, local Urighr knives and amassing trinkets. Copper bowls and pots that take hundreds of hour to make by hand are a favorite. They make them on the street, beating and carving them in front of you.
Anyhow time to head off to the local. A couple of poms have opened a bar which has decent western food. A nice change from lamb as much as I love it.The have free beer on at the moment which you always seem to get charged for at the end of the night. Check it out www.fubarchina.com