Thursday, 17 June 2010

Mr Peng Is Back

Friday May 7th. Qijiaojing was once a place of some importance, being the point where the roads from Hami to Turfan and Hami to Qitai (Gucheng) diverged. French and Cable refer to the telegraph line which turned towards Turfan at this point, and there are still remnants of the old telephone line today, but with no wires.
With the building of the new metalled road to Urumqi via Turfan which runs about 25 miles to south, Qijiaojing became an unimportant backwater, and fell into ruin.
In spite of its ruined state it is a remote and charming spot with a few small fields and green poplars set in dramatic desert scenery. This morning after breakfast of milk tea and nan bread kindly laid on by our Chinese hosts, Mr Li showed us their water source which comes from a karez system – man-made underground tunnels channeling fresh water from the hills.
Here is Mr Li and his wife outside their farmhouse.
Peng called to say he had arrived in Hami and would be catching the bus, so Niyaz and I went to pick him up from the main road. . about an hour’s drive along a rough track across the plain with desert dust coming in through every crevice. In true style Peng was immediately at work looking after the horses the moment he arrived back. We decided to move on to the nearby town of Qijiaojing xiang where we were assured of accommodation for all us. It is based around the local salt flats. Peng and I rode the horses around the edge of the centre of the plain, which is composed entirely of sand - the wind was whipping it up into an enormous localised sandstorm – an incredible sight, particularly when a large group of camels slowly crossed in front of us and into the storm, but unfortunately I did not have my camera with me.

This whole small area is full of strange and wonderful scenery.

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