... and splash!! Draw a list...
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Korla, August 17th 2012
"Why do you want to go to Bosten Lake?" asked Peng Li in such a way as if I was so stupid.
"I read that it's beautiful. I love nature scenes."
"But you are from Indonesia. So many islands! Why do you have to come here?"
"Oh yes, Indonesia is absolutely beautiful. But there's another kind of beauty here. Both are beautiful but incomparable."
"There must be many lakes in Indonesia."
"Sure there are many. The beauty of Indonesia and the beauty of China is like when you see a pretty European film star and a pretty Chinese film star. Both are pretty, but you cannot tell which one is prettier, because they are pretty in their own way."
Peng Li just stared at me. Ah, it was like talking about global warming to a kindergartner.
"When people come to China, they don't come to Korla." Peng Li continued her interrogation.
"Oh yeah??! Korla is mentioned in my Silk Road travel guide book." Actually I already told her while we were at China Bank that I was on a Silk Road journey.
"Why do you come to Korla?" Peng Li asked again.
"Because it's part of the Silk Road!" This conversation was getting to my nerves. Hey, I'm hiring your brother. I'm giving you money! Why do you act like you don't like me visiting your place? As one who works in a travel service, shouldn't you assure me that I've come to right place, instead?! Aaarrrggghhh. I only shouted that in my heart. Peng Li definitely doesn't have the ability to read the cloud above my head.
Peng Li tested my patience a great deal. She replied, "Of what?"
"Sick road?? Sick...??"
"Silk. Es i elle kay. Silk."
"Es i elle kay. S-I-L-K. That thing like thread, used to make clothes."
"Ah... sick... Sick Road?" She still pronounced 'sick' but seemed to understand already that I meant 'silk'. "Sick Road? I never hear that."
"Oh, come on, you are Chinese and you don't know the Silk Road? Silk was so precious and traded from China until Europe. The Silk Road stretches from Xi'An to Istanbul."
"But people today don't know that anymore. It was centuries ago."
"Silk Road tours are popular. Just search that in the internet. When I was in Jiayuguan, I saw many banners announcing the Silk Road Festival."
"Really? But the road doesn't exist anymore. It's history."
"Yes, it's history! Something that still exists won't be called history!"
As we ran the highway, mountain dunes came in sight.
"See?" Peng Li started again. "There's nothing. It's bare. It must be different from Indonesia."
"Sure, it's different! That's the reason why! I don't have these views in my country!" What is it? Does she want me to cancel my contract with her brother?
Peng Li took this picture for me. In fact she ordered me to stand here and required to take my picture. So far I tried to hold back my irritation and reminded myself that after all her brother, Peng Lung, had been a help to me at the train ticket booking office, and Peng Li at the bank.
I was just worried I would have to pay Peng Li's entrance ticket whereas I was on a super tight budget. At that time my credit card's password hadn't work yet. Moreover, including another person, wasn't mentioned between in the arrangement between me and Cory.
"Are you coming along to the lake?" I asked Peng Li.
"Sure I am."
"You can stay here. It's alright."
"But my brother cannot speak English."
"It's alright. There's nothing to talk about anyway. Just drop me at the lake. My previous hired drivers couldn't speak English either."
"Why? I can come along."
"No, no. Just stay here with Peng Lung. I'll go inside myself."
"You want to go inside by yourself?"
"It's still a long way inside. You cannot walk."
To cut the story short, Peng Lung and Peng Li didn't buy entrance tickets. At the security checking-in gate, Peng Lung presented a letter from sort of a travel agency. He told the officer that Peng Li was an interpreter. The officer hesitated for a moment but then let us enter. Indeed it was quite a long way up to the lake.
Bosten Lake was face to face with Taklamakan Desert which laid accross.
A boatman offered to take me for a ride. You can guess, I declined his offer.
Peng Li suggested me to take a picture by the boats. I handed my camera to her and stood by the boats.
"How about you stand on the boat?" she suggested further.
I stepped over and stood on the boat.
The next second I felt my feet moving. And then my legs, and then my back... The boat lost balance because of my weight. Thus, I lost my balance, and fell into the water of Bosten Lake. The backpack on my back dragged me down. But thanks to my trained swimming legs that automatically paddled my body up to the surface. Peng Lung was standing by the deck. He and another guy helped to pull me up.
Peng Li laughed out loud. "Huahahaha....! It was not a good idea! Huahahahaha...!" and took pictures of me all wet.
Immediately I checked my lens and other stuffs in my backpack. Surprisingly, the inside wasn't wet. Oh, so this is waterproof. Great! However, it was weird that a few hours later after I left my backpack in Peng Lung's car and returned, it was all soaked wet.
The list of stuffs that got wet, except myself are,
From my handbag:
1. Chinese bank notes
2. Indonesian bank notes
3. Tomorrow's train ticket
4. Two cellphones
5. Paper notes
6. Ticket timetable
7. Urumqi - Istanbul e-ticket
From my backpack:
1. Tamron lens
2. Camera lens cleansing kit
3. Spare batteries
4. Camera case
Things to be grateful for:
1. I could swim.
2. My glasses didn't fall off.
3. My watch which glass was already cracked turned out to be still waterproof.
4. My handbag didn't fall off. (It certainly would be end of adventure, if I lost it to the lake. My passport, money, everything was in there.)
5. The sun was shining hard enough to dry myself within half an hour.
6. The sun was still shining when later I found out my backpack was soaked with water. I could make it three quart dry by laying it on the sand.
7. Peng Li was holding my Canon 7D. Thus it didn't get wet.
While letting myself dry under the sun, I chatted with Peng Li. She told me about a family vacation when she was a kid. They went fishing. Suddenly a huge fish bit her bait but also dragged her down into the water with it's weight. Since then she got trauma of the water. She cannot swim.
"You cannot swim?" I asked, surprised.
"No, I can't. Can you?" she asked me back.
"Sure, I can. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to pull myself up just now."
"Oh... you can swim..." I can't describe her look.