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Along Kongque River

... with the weirdest driver whom I don't know who's hiring who.

View A Thread of Silk on automidori's travel map.

Tiemenguan, August 18th 2012

"Kǒngquè" is the Chinese word for "Peacock". Peng Lung drove up to the mountain of Kuluketage Mountain along Kǒngquè River a.k.a. Peacock River.
We stopped by at a kebab vendor to catch up with Peng Li and Peng Lu's relatives, a couple with a teenage boy. Peng Li said they were her uncle and aunt. Her uncle was a doctor. As I hadn't have lunch yet while it was pass 3 o'clock already, I took the chance to fill myself with 2 sticks of this yummy kebab. There was no rice, but bread. Peng Li and Peng Lu had none.

"You like it?" Peng Li asked.

"Of course I do!"

"You do?" Peng Li's look was like eeewww. Hahaha, Mom would do so, because she loathes mutton and lamb.

When Peng Li's uncle paid the vendor, I wanted to pay my share, but he refused. "We are family," Peng Li said.

Peng Li's uncle and aunt returned to their car, but Peng Li's cousin, those couple's teenage boy, got on our car. On my hired car, I mean.

Peng Lung pulled over and then we climbed a steel staircase.

The scenery was for me nothing but plain.

High up but deep inside this valley, wind was blowing very hard.

"What does this say?" I asked Peng Li, pointing at the words on the stone tablet.

"Errr..." Peng Li checked her electronic dictionary. When she got it, she showed it first to Peng Lung.

Peng Lung took a look at Peng Li's device. He mumbled, "She won't understand." in Mandarin.

"Wow, that must be something complicated," I said to myself. At a glimpse of thought, "The stone tablet looks so simply and yet it carries such a complicated meaning that I might not understand?"

Curiously I broaden my eyes on Peng Li's device. "Hydroelectric power" it said. Wow... Just 'hydroelectric power'? Ah, maybe Peng Lu had forgotten who's the one who doesn't understand English.

So there under the dam, the ancient Silk Road has been buried. We sat here for almost half an hour, facing the dam and barren rock mountain. I got bored and impatient. What are we doing here? What are we waiting for, to be exact. Where's the iron gate? Nothing looks like a gate here. (As mentioned in beginning of previous post, Peng Lung didn't brought me here first before going the Iron Gate.)

I pushed Peng Li to leave and we eventually rolled down back. But, for the third time, beyond my request, Peng Lung pulled over again. "What are we doing?" I asked Peng Li. "Eat watermelon," Peng Li answered.

Peng Lung is washing the watermelon.

Now, cutting the watermelon.

Of course they shared some with me, though.

I ate two slices and waited for them to finish the whole thing.

A shot to kill the time. Peng Lung has been the weirdest driver I ever hired during my whole travel experience. Today it was entirely as if I was tagging along them, being showed around base on their goodwill. Firstly, they decided for themselves at what time they would come and fetch me at the hotel. Then, they arrived an hour late. They brought me to the dam without asking whether I would like to see it or not. On the way they stopped at the kebab vendor, without asking me either. If they wanted to meet their relatives, at least they ought to asked my permission, don't you think? Now they stop again for a watermelon without asking me. Hey, hey, I'm hiring you!! (I should have yelled that to Peng Li over her watermelon right on this spot. Instead, I kept trying to be patient.)

Another one...
... and another one.

According the exif data of the photos I took, we spent almost an hour here. At the Iron Gate Pass, when I said to Peng Li that I wanted to leave, she said I had to wait about half an hour, because Peng Lung went to pick up someone in town.

My blood began to boil. "I have to wait for half an hour?! Why did Peng Lung leave?! You were already an hour late and now I still have to wait for Peng Lung to come back?!!"

Oh yeah, I paid for Peng Li and Peng Lung's entrance ticket to Iron Gate Pass. But because Peng Lung didn't go in, their cousin, the teenage boy, used the ticket. Well, maybe that's to make up for the kebab his father had paid for me.

Luckily it didn't take half an hour before Peng Li told me that Peng Lung was back. When I got into the car, that 'someone' turned out to be Peng Li's aunt. Thus, we went back to town with Peng Li's teenage cousin and her aunt. Yes, in my hired car.

"I'm sorry for causing you trouble." I heard Peng Li's aunt tell Peng Lung.

"Never mind," Peng Lung answered. "Yesterday we had been with her until night." I couldn't get every word what Peng Lung said, but I understood his point. So is this what Peng Li took me around last night for? Indeed, nothing's for free. For everything there's a price.

I asked Peng Li to bring me back to the hotel and come back at 8:30 PM to bring me to the train station. "Please don't be late."

"Okay," Peng Li answered.

"Please tell your brother not to come late," I ordered Peng Li.

"Yes, yes, I will tell him," she answered. But she said nothing to Peng Lung. Why? What does she have to wait for to interpret my request to Peng Lung? Because her aunt is with them? Why?

I took a deep sigh when I got off the car. The climax with Peng Li was yet to come.

Posted by automidori 22:27 Archived in China Tagged china xinjiang korla peacock_river kongque_river

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