Thursday, 3 June 2010

Summer Is a-coming in …

Wednesday 28th April …. and the cuckoos certainly loude sing in the oases round Hami. Having only ever heard but not seen cuckoos before, I find they are a common sight around here.
Below is a photo of Bajiu and me by the first proper trees we arrived at after days in the desert.
The temperatures have soared, and within the space of two days we have gone from seven layers of clothing to one. The leaves are sprouting and everyone is busy planting out this year’s crops.
The sight of abundant clean fresh water is a treat after the long bitter water desert stages.
Yesterday we rode through the delightful little oasis villages of Huanglugang and Yukeshi, also visited by the Trio. Rowena has an amazing ability to chat with anyone in any language she doesn’t actually speak – here she is gossiping with the locals in Yukeshu.
Having been accosted by the local police, we ended up parking truck and horses in the police station yard at the small town of Luxuan where we stayed last night. A quick wave of our official certificate always works wonders.
This morning we had a jaunt up to the foot of the Karlik Tagh hills to an enchanting oasis which I believe may be the Aratam gardens where the Hami Khan or ‘King of the Gobi’ used to have a summer palace - the Trio stayed there at the invitation of the last khan Maksud Shah.
We wandered up through extensive walnut groves to the remains of a few old decorated Buddhist caves (mentioned by French and Cable), and walked along a canal carrying meltwater down from the hills. It was all most beautiful and peaceful (at least until the buses of sightseers starting arriving) and we even found some wild iris – malien – of the type which gave their name to Malienjing.
The khan’s summer palace appears to have been replaced by a chickens’ summer camp.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, almost out of China and into Kazakhstan! Incredible. Will you need to get a whole new saddlebag full of official papers? Do you expect this phase of your trip to be even more uninhabited and undeveloped? And I see that you'll be approaching a couple of "lakes." Do you plan to stop and teach Zorbee how to swim!

    Your photos and commentary are a big hit on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Thanks for taking the time to send both along. Rowena is the picture of a very neat bag lady.

    From the hay loft,