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A Frustrating Morning on the Old Road

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

Hetian, August 25th 2012

Breakfast in this hotel varied better than previous. A seat by the window made me double happy. From my window that faced the street, I could see 'my car' already parked in front of my hotel.

"Good morning, Abdul," I texted Abdul the Tour Guide. "I see that you have already arrived. Please wait. I'm having breakfast. See you later."

Two days ago when I was still on my way from Kashgar to Hetian, Abdul the Tour Guide seemed to me even over-enthusiastic. On the contrary, this time he didn't send me a reply. Ah, maybe he has no balance left in his phone, I thought. With great confidence that Abdul Wahab had kept his words, I went down to the lobby, ready start a new day in Hetian.

Abdul the Tour Guide was reading a newspaper at the lobby. "Hi! Good morning! You must have been waiting for me a long time. I saw your car when I had breakfast."

Abdul the Tour Guide said nothing. His face was stern as hard as rock. Oh, maybe Abdul Wahab scolded him for serving me badly, I thought. (How wrong I was.) Confidence that the day would go smooth grew stronger in me. Anyway, Abdul Wahab's words in his text messages to me did sound convincing. None did I expect that even if I had ask him to bring me the moon, he would still be as convincing.

I proceeded for check out at the front desk. Abdul the Tour Guide stood next to me. He and the front desk staff talked while pointing at our driver. Because my check out process was not yet completed, I was confused. What does he (the driver) have to do with me?

A few seconds later, the front desk staff gave Abdul the Tour Guide a receipt. Abdul the Tour Guide counted his money rapidly and handed it to the front desk staff. Why so much? I wandered.

"Err... did you stay here too last night?" I asked Abdul the Tour Guide.


"So...? Where do you live? You live in Kashgar??"


"So you aren't a Hotanese..."


As we got into the car, Abdul the Tour Guide said that he would bring me to the desert and that I can do camel trekking there. But drops of water fell on our window glass.

"I cannot take pictures in the rain," I said to Abdul the Tour Guide. How about we go to the rose winery first? In the afternoon who knows the weather would be better. Then we can go to the desert."

Our car drove into a broad main road. Suddenly our car stopped. Abdul the Tour Guide got off and talked with some Uyghur men by the side of the street. Ah, maybe they are his acquaintances and having passed their place anyway, he has something to tell them, I thought. Give him the chance, I told myself.

Just as I was about to sit back, our car stopped again. Abdul the Tour Guide got off, looked left and right, walked to two men sitting by the side of the street. The third time this happened again, I became convinced.

Let alone sharing me about rose winery, he doesn't even know where the place is! So what did he do as preparation last nigh?! When Abdul Wahab asked what he could do for me, and I asked him to find out about the rose winery in advance, and he agreed, what did Abdul Wahab tell Abdul the Tour Guide afterwards?

Abdul the Tour Guide told me that the rose winery didn't exist. Of course I didn't believe that. It's written on Central Asia Traveler's website. I also had given this link to Melike, and we had been discussing this itinerary since a few months ago. Melike never told me that the rose winery is closed.

I insisted to be brought to the address I copied from Central Asia Traveler's website. "Let me stand in front of that address and see for myself that the rose winery is closed," I asked. Abdul the Tour Guide ignored.

Ah, maybe he doesn't understand. "I'm sorry. Maybe you don't understand me. I mean... "

"I understand! Don't you speak to me!!" Abdul the Tour Guide shouted at me as we were standing by the side of the street.

I walked back to the car, got in, and slammed the door hard. I was more than mad.

When Abdul the Tour Guide returned to our car and asked me about something, I kept quiet.

"How about that?" Abdul the Tour Guide asked again.

"You told me not to speak to you," I replied.

Abdul the Tour Guide's eye widened. "Alright! Go back hotel!" He slammed the door also. But not as hard as I did. I understand now why the front window glass was cracked.

We didn't go back directly to the hotel, though. To make a story of frustration a bit shorter, I eventually was standing outside the gate of the rose winery. Abdul the Tour Guide spoke to the guards and then told me that the winery isn't opened for public. I need permission to visit. In Melike's email afterwards, Melike said that the rose winery was closed that day. It doesn't matter who is lying in this case. The point is, when Abdul Wahab asked me what he could do for me, he didn't mean that at all!! Aaarghhh!

Because at the silk factory yesterday I didn't get what I had expected to see, I thought that if I could get to Shatuo Silk Factory as mentioned by Central Asia Traveler, I would get more. Nevertheless, worse than the rose winery, I didn't even get to stand in front of the building. In Melike's email afterwards, Melike said that I had given Abdul the Tour Guide an address that didn't exist and forced him to bring me there. That's what I got from trusting Central Asia Traveler which author is a contributor in Lonely Planet.

This was how I felt. Why had I been so naif thinking that Abdul Wahab was sincere with his words? How stupid. Why should I think of giving Old Road Tours a second chance while what this agency cares to do in advance is only picking up 100% cash. Nothing further than that should be prepared. Oh yes, but sweet talk.

Had I not taken Abdul Wahab's offer to continue the tour today, I could have start the tour myself with Cory's hired-car. Had Abdul Wahab kept his word of checking out about the rose winery, we wouldn't have had to go all along the way just to frequently stop by asking for an address.

Now half a day has passed, meaningless. It's too late to arrange for a tour at this time of the day. My flight to Urumqi would be in the evening. May I be honest with you. When I'm this mad, my imagination can go wild. I can imagine grabbing the face with both my hands, banging it in front of his computer where my emails with Melike are written, slashing his sweet mouth with a cutter, and then finally thrusting his head into a river until he cannot breath. Scary, huh? However, I fully realized, even if I had the chance (and courage) to do so, it would return not a minute of my lost time in Hetian.

I parted with Abdul the Tour Guide and his driver on my request. Enough was enough. Here I sat enjoying a meal which I cared nothing about what it was. Just eat and watch people pass by. Well, I 'm not sure whether that's to be called 'enjoying'.

I walked the streets aimlessly. Ah, let me show you something interesting. Look at that department store across the street.
"International On Foot Street" says the English translation. I wasn't sure whether I still had the energy to laugh.

My frustrated feet brought me to an area which appeared an aluminum/tin-stuff market.

Yeah, I've seen people using these kinds of stuffs all through my trip in Xinjiang.

Cory suggested me to visit the walnut museum. I did. That will be in my next post. (Actually, I can't wait to share you some of my shots in Tianchi, Urumqi.)

Posted by automidori 23:26 Archived in China Tagged china xinjiang hetian old_road_tours abdul_wahab_tours central_asia_traveler

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