Seeing the other side of Korla through Nokia N86.
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Korla, August 18th 2012
This is one side of Korla. I took this picture from my car on the way to Tiemenguan this afternoon.
Korla is the capital of Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture which according to Wikipedia, is larger than France. Wow! The whole prefecture stretches from the Northern Tarim Basin to the Southern foot of Tianshan (Heavenly Mountain). For me, the scenery was remarkable as I don't have such in my home country, although equally beautiful.
However, like a piece of coin, Korla sure has another side. I have to find out about that. Back from Tiemenguan, the Iron Gate Pass, I asked Peng Li to drop me off at my hotel.
"What are you going to do?" asked Peng Li. "You still have many hours before your train leaves."
"I want go around the city," I answered.
"Yes, by myself."
"You want to go round the city??"
"Are you going to take a taxi?"
"No. I'll take a bus."
"What?? A bus??? You know which one??"
"It's easy. There's a bus stop in front of my hotel."
"Where will you go?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know???"
The names of the destinations at the bus stops were written in 2 languages: Chinese, and Uyghur in Arabic characters. I jotted down the name of the bus stop in front of my hotel, and then randomly following my instinct I picked up a bus. So was the voice announcement inside the bus: Chinese and Uyghur. I began to feel like I was in another country. Even the interior of the bus, was different from the other city buses I had been on in China.
From now on you'll be seeing the other side of Korla through Nokia N86. Yes, that's a cellphone.
I got off at the last stop which was just about 15 minutes away.
Behind the bus terminal -- it was more like a bus stop for several buses -- turned out to be a market.
As I walked through, my eyes widen. Korla was my second stop in Xinjiang after Turpan. But in Turpan I didn't feel like I was in a different country as in this place. Maybe because in Turpan I didn't go to the market. Mom said, the best place to get to know the real life is at the market. Certainly!
Let alone the language spoken, the clothes on them, were more than enough to suggest a different world, and yet still China.
I'm not asking you to salute me. I just want to let you know that most of the shots in this album aren't just candid. More than that, many I made without even facing the subject. I held my cellphone down but with the lens facing my targeted subject. And then I would look to the opposite direction while my finger slowly pressed the button.
This the one I'm most contented with. I didn't even face them when I made this shot, but the composition gives the feeling. You don't think so? Oh, come on...
So what does the market have to offer?
It's watermelon season. Hence, all the way along this Silk Road, watermelon comes along more frequent than grapes.
Bread seems to be a certain thing in every market in Xinjiang. After my misluck of bread choice in Turpan, I challenged myself to buy another one. Ughhh, it was almost just as hard as the one in Turpan. The next day in Akesu, I broke it into pieces and soaked them into hot milk. It's after all a good way to make you full.
Watermelon is about summer, bread is about Xinjiang, but fragrant pear is about Korla.
Sweets, spices, nuts, are also abundant in this market, besides fruit and bread.
At the other side of the market is the non-food-product area. It's a perfect place to get rid of the heat.
After Adam disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Genesis 3:21). Since then, men have been obsessed with garments, anywhere in the world, although in different ways. In any market, they are two big items very sure to be found: food and garment. It's like a repeated history on and on: eat and clothe yourself. If it weren't for the obsession for garment, the Silk Road would not have existed. Why did people risk the desert just for silk? What did silk mean? Garment.
This is not in the market area anymore. Only on this part, the houses had this unique design. What do you call this front part of the house? The front yard is surrounded by high walls as high as the entire building. But the entrance is wide open and has no gate. The window is nearly as wide as the entrance. The top is shaded with squash leaves.
On this part of the street seems to be where the Han Chinese run their business. Walking along this side is somewhat like returning to China.
This is just an intermezzo with Powershot G12, to commemorate summer in Korla. Next time I come here again -- if ever -- it might not be summer.
On the way back to my hotel, I stopped by here.
And had a try of this, plain yoghurt with sugar and nuts. So far, it's the best yoghurt I ever had. It's not only the flavor, but also the smell. The owners, a couple in their 60's, I guess, were warm and welcoming.
Tell Peng Li, I'm back. This is across my hotel. I'm back to the other side of Korla. The side which Insight Guide: Silk Road describes as on of Xinjiang's wealthiest cities, with a rich agricultural economy boosted by heavy industry and, in recent decades, oil production from the nearby Taklamakan Desert. The construction developing here will at to the panorama below:
I had dinner at a nearby restaurant. 6 yuan. Yes, that tin bowl is for drinking tea.
Insight Guide: Silk Road says: "Korla is a pleasant enough place to stay." I can't agree more to that.