11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Karakul, August 22nd 2012
I had company of 6 friends plus Junki, for breakfast. Those 6 friends were from Tujadim's group who was also part of Husen's agency, Xinjiang Travel. Breakfast contained of Uyghur bread (the hard one), plain bread in slices for sandwich, jam, butter, boiled, coffee, and tea. I was hoping against hope I would get yak milk tea again. None.
This group of six consisted of British, Hong Kong, Korean nationality. But the Hong Kong friend's English was entirely British. She commented on how warm the stone house felt.
"Was it cold in the yurt?" I asked.
"Yes it was last night."
"Tujadim asked me last night where I preferred to sleep. I asked him which one is warmer. He said it's warmer here, so I chose to stay here," I explained.
"We would be glad to have more company," she replied.
After breakfast I peeped into one of the yurts. Sure thing, it must have been warmer in my stone house. My stone house had a proper wooden door that could be shut tightly. Thus, wind can't blow in. Whereas the yurt, only had a piece of material hanging at the doorway. Lots of wind can possibly blow in through. I didn't examine carefully, but it seemed there wasn't a stage. That meant sleeping with direct contact to the ground.
I had another thing to be grateful for when later on I read a blog about staying overnight in Karakul. The author said that her host promised a yurt for two. As a matter of fact, new guests kept coming in through the night, and she had to share her blankets with them until there became not enough blankets for everyone. This thing didn't happen at all in my stone house. I tugged myself between the thick heavy blankets, and that felt much much better than sleeping on an electric blanket like when I was in Jiuzhaigou. Something natural always feels better.
Tujadim and Abdul told me to wait for about 20 minutes until the driver who is going to take Junki comes. "Just go and take pictures first," suggested Tujadim. Here are some more:
No sign of anyone coming to pick up Junki.
Wow... camels are coming! Yayyy!!
These horses and camels turned out to be intended for tourists. Beside my 6 friends, other tourist groups had gathered here for a camel or horse trekking. I bargained a camel ride with the herdsman. He asked for 70 yuan for an hour's ride and didn't want to go any lower than that. He didn't even care to look at my face. I told my driver that if Junki's driver is not yet coming, I'd like to ride a camel, but with a more reasonable price. Minutes later, my driver asked me, "You want to ride on a camel? Wait a minute." He talked to the herdsman, but said nothing to me.
Same thing happened with Tujadim. I had thought, speaking in English, it would be easier to convey my desire to Tujadim. Yes, it was easy to convey my desire, but it was hell to grasp what Tujadim, Abdul, and the herdsman were talking about. Because, they all spoke in Uyghur. Tujadim, just like Abdul, he said nothing to me. Oh, come on! They asked me about the ride, and then they talked so many things between the three of them, but there was nothing to tell me?? So how about my request? I began not to like the situation.
I continued taking pictures while feeling something had been set up against me.
Little cowboys were interesting watch. But not with a restless mind.
Here's Junki and the camels. More than 20 minutes have passed. Where's Junki's driver?
Search, search ...
I turned mad. Look, I offered to take Junki with me, but Tujadim and Abdul said there will be another car that can take Junki to Kashgar for a 70 yuan. Okay, they want money. By letting Junki on my car which has already been paid, they would profit nothing. But I'm asked to wait 20 minutes for this car to come before I can leave for Kashgar. Okay, I'll wait. However, the 20 minutes has doubled. Okay, let me take a camel ride, then. But, for whatever reason unknown, I never could get on one. Hello! You don't let me take Junki with me, but you ask me to wait for Junki's driver. And then while waiting, you don't let me take the camel ride? What else more do you want??! You think I'm simply a hitchhiker that has only to rely on your kindness??!
Tujadim just watched me yelling, and then went away.
By now, there's only me, Abdul, and Junki. Everyone, every hose, every camel, has gone into the mountains.
To make matters worse, Junki came to me. "Do you remember how much did the driver say I have to pay? Didn't he say 70 yuan?"
"Yes, that's what I remember," I answered.
"Just now he said it was 140 yuan."
I turned to Abdul to confirm that thing. With all the might I had in Mandarin, I tried to argue that he had promised a fare of 70 yuan. No, 140 yuan, he said. And then I switched to English. Abdul rejected immediately by saying he doesn't understand English. Now that Tujadim who could speak English wasn't here, I felt we were like standing in a lion's den. A lion that prays a lot. Phew.
I texted Husen and he called me back. Husen said he knew nothing about a Korean guest, about a car from Tashkorgan going to pick up Junki, and so on. Husen made an emphasize that the car was mine and I was free to leave at whatever time I wish to, and to take along whoever I wish to. "You should have told me about this earlier," said Husen.
"I was trying to be patient," I answered. "I thought 20 minutes wasn't long anyway, so I agreed to wait," I explained.
"Now tell your driver to leave right away and take your friend with you."
Abdul gave me an innocent look as I hung up the phone. "Husen say go?" he asked in English, exactly as if he was simply obeying Husen's order on when to leave. Frankly speaking I don't trust Husen a hundred percent. But at least he already stated to me many times that he knew nothing about Junki and the car from Tashkorgan. Plus, when Tujadim and Abdul said there would be a car picking up Junki, they made no call to anyone. At first Abdul already agreed to let Junki go with me. But Tujadim said something to Abdul (in Uyghurrr... arrrgh), and the decision changed. Very much likely Husen wasn't involved.
The three of us, Abdul, Junki, and me, rolled off towards Kashgar. Nevertheless, only a few kilometers afterwards, a long traffic jam occurred. Several minutes later a guy walked towards our car from behind. He spoke to Abdul through the window while looking at Junki. Talking in Uyghur, again, of course. Abdul gave that guy 70 yuan and that guy when back to his car.
Abdul turned back to us. "Taskhorgan car, come. But Karakul no. I pay."
Ah I know. He meant to tell that the guy just now was supposed to be Junki's driver who had come from Taskhkorgan. That guy arrived in Karakul but Junki wasn't there anymore. Thus, Abdul had to pay that guy.
"Well, you said 20 minutes just now," I replied. "We have waited for more than 20 minutes. That's your own fault."
Abdul answered back nothing, but seemed to understand what I was trying to say.
Whatsoever, the most surprising thing is the 70 yuan Abdul gave to that guy. So??? The amount Junki should have paid was really 70 yuan actually! If I hadn't contacted Husen, Junki would have to get on that guy's car. Then, having nobody speaking English, Junki would helplessly have to pay 140 yuan to this guy. Where do you think the other half, that 70 yuan, would go to???
What a clever thing it was of Abdul to suddenly raise the price when Tujadim was already gone. Oh yes, you become smart when you pray a lot.