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Monday, 28 July 2014

the train to Kashgar

「明月出天山          蒼茫雲海間          長風幾萬里          吹度玉門關。」                    ﹣﹣李白






The sunset on the train's window drew the people's attention, embroidered the gold beams on everyone, like a group of ancient Chinese sculptures dragging out the crimson horizon into the train. The drawing is drawn on the train from Lhasa (拉薩) to Xining (西寧). I worked in the youth hostel for 2 months in Qinghai Lake (青海湖) then went to Kashgar(喀什葛爾) to stay another 2 months in July and August, 2014. It was a long way from Qinghai Lake to Kashgar, more then 3,000km.

Reading Mò Yán (莫言)'s novel "The Frog" (《蛙》) on the train, the plot shines after page 40. I cried when I read that Wong Yan Mei is died on page 135. I learned about the Cultural revolution in China by reading book《讎囚》 and watching movies,《天浴》,《芙蓉鎮》,《陝邊溝》and《歸來》, somehow I do not understand thoroughly, at least not as much as a "local" Chinese in China, especially on some of the terms and slangs.

S always says that I am not a 100% Chinese and act like a Japanese. My Mandarin improved after the four-month stay in China, but almost everyone thinks that I am from Korea when we talk. A Yunnan university student from Poland speak fluent Mandarin, we met him in the youth hostel in Kashgar.
"He has perfect accent and his Mandarine even better then those Chinese from the south of China." S said.
"I cannot be compared with him in this case, considering he can speak, write and read within one year study in China, and he speaks Polish, German and English, that means he is a genius in languages." I replied.

2.30 hours coach from Qinghai Lake (青海湖) to Xining (西寧)
2.30 hours train from Xining (西寧) to Lanzhou (蘭州)
14 hours train from Lanzhou (蘭州) to Dunhuang (敦煌)
2.30 hours train from Dunhuang (敦煌) to Xining (疏流河)
11 hours train from Xining (疏流河) to Ürümchi (烏魯木齊)
25 hours train from Ürümchi (烏魯木齊) to Kashgar (喀什葛爾)

The train from Hamburg to Copenhagen only takes 4.5 hours. It takes 25 hours between two cities in the west part of China, and you can imagine how big China is.

25 hours train from Ürümchi (烏魯木齊) to Kashgar (喀什), where is notorious as the most dangerous places of the Uighur (維吾爾) terrorists in recent years. Everyone in Ürümchi says Kashgar has more active terrorists then the other cities, where is near the China border, the terrorist would escape to the other countries easily. However, the Kashgar citizen says Ürümchi is the target of the terrorisim because the high intensity of population.

The train runs along the yellowish mountain and desert, by passed Turpan (吐魯番), The Flaming Mountains (火焰山) and Tarim Basin (塔里木盆地), the parts of the route of "Journey to the West" (《西遊記》), a traditional Chinese mythology, where also the parts of "The Silk Road" (絲綢之路).

In the story of "Journey to the West", Sunwukong (孫悟空) also known as Qitiandasheng (齊天大聖) or Monkey King. He escorts Tangsanzang (唐三藏) bringing back the Buddhism Sutra from the west (India) to China. They meet lots of gods, demons and monsters on the journey, a big battle between Sunwukong and the Bull Demon King (牛魔王) is took place in the Flaming Mountains (火焰山).

Also, Erlangshen (二郎神), a knight god has another battle with Sunwukong. He takes rest near Qinghai Lake, and leaves his sword near the Lake, which becomes the shore with the shape of the sword, called Èrláng jiàn (二郎劍) later. And that was the place I lived for two months before I went to Xinjiang (新彊).



Sun raised on the train's window, the fancy pastel horizon divided the window into two, which made me missed Iceland, the clear and wide skyline and the unique pinky colour. It was difficult to believe that is a part of China, until I noticed my dusty clothes and shoes.

The conceptual map in my mind: everywhere being so close, they are always the next stop by plane, by train, by coach or by car. It is an unbelievable joinery for the people taking years on passing through The Silk Road in the old days.

"It looks like Tibet." said L. When I shown my photos in Iceland.

Then I think about how would I visit Montréal then go to Reykjavík again. And how about Africa? South America? I do not know how and when I would end this journey. I am being lead a vagrant life.

The time I spent in Berlin from January to March last year, in Canada on July, then I were back to Europe on September. It was not a long time but it was seemed so long. Time extended by itself, the intensity of life compressed from Europe to Asia. I met Poplar (白楊樹) again in Dunhuang (敦煌) last month, they were bowing to me along the treks. Are they the same trees along the Seine in Paris? And they were everywhere besides the fields and treks in Xinjiang.

Thousand miles of sand lies with the little brushes on the windy dry plain, the illusion of an ocean floats under the horizon, where is only mud and sand dunes.



There were more empty seats for sleeping after a big load of passengers took off at half past four in the early morning. Also many of them slept in every possibly ways: under the three-linked seats, near the exit's door. I woke up at seven o'clock. There still had two to four stops till the destination. New comers entered the train, no one woke anyone up even their seats had been slept over by strangers, but looking for an empty seat for rest or stand quietly, they were so sweet, like the body guards of the sleepers.
"It is normal. I will do the same." A said.
"But it is still amazing that everybody do so." S replied, "I appreciate."

The trains were full, some of the trains only had tickets for standing left. I hardly got the ticket to Kashgar on the fifth day in Ürümchi. This was the nightmare that I could not buy any sleeping-seat and got a seat for sitting over 25 hours on the train.

The countless hours of sitting without sleep, I gazed my reflected face on the window. Am I going to be a blank traveller or going through the profound depth in my life?


((((中國火車從拉薩開往到西寧,可轉班車到青海湖,我住了一個半月。再從西寧坐火車到蘭州。三天後由敦煌到疏勒河,轉車到烏魯木齊。在買不到火車票的情況下,五天後往喀什。在喀什住上一個半月。))))

1 comment:

liloretta said...

i miss you......lai cheung