11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Karakul, August 22nd 2012,
and the night before, August 21st.
After the lost of my yummy yak milk tea, I 'watched' my driver, and Tujadim talking. Occasionally Abdul, my driver, addressed something to our host lady and she replied. Everything was in Uyghur. Completely boring. I regretted I didn't bring my book with me. I only brought with me a medium size backpack which half of it was loaded with camera stuffs. The rest I left at the hotel in Kashgar. Most of the time, however, Tujadim was glued to his iPhone or sort of, I don't know.
"Where would you like to sleep?" Suddenly I heard Tujadim speaking in English. Oh, that must addressed to me. I turned my head to him. Ah yes, he is talking to me. "Here, or in the yurt with the others?" Tujadim continued, referring to his six guests whom one of them traveled in my car this morning.
"Which one is warmer?" I asked him back.
"Of course it's warmer here."
"Okay, I'll stay here, then." After experiencing the hard cold wind at the yak farm, I became very concerned about temperature. I didn't bring a thick jacket, hand-gloves, and stockings. I was rather worried I wouldn't make it through the night.
Tujadim went back to his iPhone. I went back to wondering when will these guys set themselves to sleep. No clue. So, I went outside to find something in the thick dark. Who knows clue is there.
My jaws dropped. Bright silver twinkling stars filled the whole air above me. Towards whichever direction I looked, were only stars. The only source of light I could see, were only stars.
I went back inside to get my camera. Amidst of the cold, I leaned my camera to a car that was parked in front of the stone house. I tried to capture the stars with a low shutter speed but always failed. Before long, I hardly could feel the buttons on my camera. Numb. Oh well, there are things that can only be cherished in human memory. So did I comforted myself. There are things that no one can share with, but me. If only it weren't the freezing cold, I would have laid my back flat on the ground and arms wide open, gazing at the stars... till morning comes.
Nevertheless, long before morning came, an uninvited guest came. He was a Korean young guy. He had just crossed the border from Pakistan and was looking for a place to stay the night. Tujadim mentioned a price which I don't remember. This Korean young guy agreed. His name was Junki. Well, it sounded to me like that.
"Are you Japanese?" Junki asked me.
"No. I'm Chinese but I do speak Japanese," I answered.
"Oh so you are a local?"
"No. I'm from Indonesia."
"But you speak Chinese?"
"But you speak English?"
"Yes, I do. That sounds complicated, doesn't it?"
Either it was complicated or Junki simply ignored. He asked, "What time will the bus to Kashgar pass by here tomorrow morning?"
"You want to take a bus?? I don't think it would be easy to get one. This morning I had been all the way until Tashkorgan and then back here. I don't think I ever saw a bus."
"How did you come here?"
"I'm on a tour program. I rode on a car. Tomorrow I'll be returning to Kashgar. You can join me, but you have to pay me. Hahaha..." The last part I meant as a joke. But Junki took it serious.
"Pay? Oh no, no, no."
"I'm sorry. I was kidding. You can come along with me, if you want. You don't need to pay." I felt sorry for him. He looked kind of weary. I could imagine being stranded by the side of Karakoram Highway with no much money but must continue the journey. I know very well already what it is to be short of money in a foreign land.
"Oh really?" Junki's face turned brighter.
Meanwhile Abdul and Tujadim exchanged a conversation in Uyghur. Tujadim then turned to Junki. "Tomorrow morning there will be a car coming from Tashkorgan to Kashgar. There are 3 persons there. You can join and share the cost."
"How much would I have to pay?" Junki asked.
"Seventy. That sounds not bad," Junki replied.
Tujadim didn't lie to me when he said it was warm here. It was. The sleeping bag I brought laid useless. The thick heavy blanket over me was just perfect.
A kitchen in the corner.
A stove in the middle. Caution! Don't touch that pole on the right. That's hot as fire! I almost did when I had just come. Luckily my host lady prevented me with her language which I couldn't understand. It wasn't Mandarin as she didn't speak Mandarin very well. But because of her confusing talk, that made me paused and looked at her. Hence, my hand froze in the air before laying on that hot pole. This might look simple. But I can't bear the thought if I had touch that. My whole journey would be in total jeopardize. Let alone taking pictures. I wouldn't be able to carry my things. I'm so grateful for that 'little moment'.
Only in the morning did I realized that there was a television set. I wonder whether it does work.
Tujadim suggested to wait for sunrise. "What time will sunrise be?" I asked. "Nine o'clock," he answered. I didn't buy that. That can't be.
I got up at 7 o'clock in the morning. I pushed the wooden door and pure black hang in front of me. Now, I want to pee, again. Nobody was around. Or at least I couldn't see anybody. I was too scared to cross the highway and 'do it' again like last night. Last night my host lady was with me. It's not the dark that I'm scared of. This is a highway, you know? On a highway, no one rattles like a bicycle.
Guess what I did? Here's my confession. I squatted next to the car parked in front of my stone house, and urinated the land of my ancestors for a second time. Done. Back to sleep.
But, my driver was already up. He was standing upright on his mat, praying.
About half an hour later I got up again to check the sky. I heard a familiar sound like I used to hear in my home country. Is there a mosque here? I thought to myself. I didn't see any yesterday. I cast my view to where the sound came from.
There my driver, Abdul, stood on a small hill. Praying. What a fervent Muslim.
At nine o'clock it was slightly bright. But white clouds filled the sky here and there. I decided it wasn't my luck with sunrise that day. But at approximately nine thirty, Junki sprung into our stone house. "Sunrise! Sunrise has come!"
It wasn't like the sunrise I would have liked to see. But it was beautiful. Or maybe I should have just stayed outside and not give up when I saw those small clouds.
Here are my shots. Good morning, Majestic Karakul!