Here my biggest challenge was supposed to begin. I was standing at the side of the road in the Chinese border town. After a long day I was totally done. Yet I didn’t feel like I already reached my destination. I could have stopped and find a place to sleep. It would have been more safe and reasonable. Instead, I tempted fate. Not always a good idea but I couldn’t accept that I wouldn’t make it to Kashgar tonight. So I continued. I am sure I was irritating the local Uygurs. A stranger with backpack standing at the side of the road in the middle of the night trying to wave down cars.
At a moment were I almost had lost hope suddenly two men stopped. They seemed friendly and trying to help. These were the ones I was waiting for. I showed them my Chinese letter and they had a close look. I was not sure whether they understood everything but I had the impression, at least they understood something. I got into their car and drove through the city just trusting them. I had to make clear to them that I didn’t want to go to the bus station or to a taxi. They drove to the edge of the city and tried to wave down some cars for me. They understood. After a while they could convince a driver to give me a ride. It was an older man who actually seemed friendly and calm. So In the dark night I got into the car.to the unknown man with hat. We started driving. First we stayed on the big main road out of the city. Eventually we left the main road though and continued on a smaller road. Finally we also left the smaller road and arrived to a small forest path. I tried to find an explanation why we are so off the path.In the meantime the man with had turned left and right again. I had lost my orientation. Maybe it was just a little detour? I was not exactly alarmed but I became very attentive and a little tensioned. This just seemed too strange to me and I could find an explanation for it. Usually I always feel like I have at least an overview of where I am going but now I was just too tired. He would know where he was going, I hoped. However, we were not going to Kashgar. Finally we left the forest again and arrived to a small village. The street that were lit up by laterns was surprisingly busy. Men walking around and standing at the street. Some guys standing at their cars. We stopped. This was it. He wouldn’t go further and I should take a taxi from here. Disillusioned and resigned I got out of the car. The local taxi drivers quickly began to ensare me smelling lots of dollars in me. “What other choices do I have?“, I thought and agreed on one driver for 30 Yuan. I said thank you and goodbye to the old man with hat but he just looked confused. „Money, moneyyy!“ he screamed being afraid not getting his slice of the cake. „Really?!“ I lost all faith and gave him the 30 Yuan he was demanding. With as little as 20 Yuan I went into the taxi.
With the taxi I arrived Kashgar at around 2 am. However, I arrived there not know where I was going to sleep. For a hotel I surely didn’t have enough money left. Appearently there was a small hostel though called „Camel“. So I wandered through the darkness of that unknown city on the search for a place to sleep. Unfortunately nobody knew about that hostel and it wasn’t where someone explained me some days ago. The hotels were totally out of my budget costing 200 Yuan and more. I had to find a solution, so I asked in a hotel if I could put up my tent somewhere – maybe on the roof top. However, as soon as they noticed that I had not enough money their politeness was all gone and they didn’t even let me use their internet to find something. No help. Therefore I cpntinued wondering around the dark streets of this totally unknown city. There were still some people on the street, also some women. So my head told me it be safe even though I had a strange feeling. Everything here seemed so unfamiliar, so different from what I have seen so far. I noticed people pushing wooden wheelbarrows around even though I was actually to tired to really notice. When I was walking along the narrow streets being totally lost I suddenly heard I voice shouting: „Hey! Come here!“
I was told to climb up some stars. The shouting voice came from a woman. She was a guest in the „Pamir Hostel“. By chance I was walking a good way. This was the only hostel of the city and it was not even expensive. It was 40 Yuan for a bed. „Do you have a tent“, the owner asked me. For 20 Yuan I could put up my tent on the roof top. My rescue…!
I built up my tent on the roof top of the hostel and sat in front of it. After an seemingly endless day I sat in front of my tent and look from the roof top to the city. „I am in China now.“, I realized. The air was pleasently warm and happy I arrived at a good place finally. It was tired but too stirred up to go to sleep. So I relaxed in front of my tent. When I finally went to sleep dusk was conducting its enchanting play of colors – orange, red, gold, purple, and blue. In my tent I heard the birds singing. Then I fell asleep.
The next day I met a sympathic guy from Brazil. His name was Tales and he dared to study for two years in China. He learnt Chinese and I am sure this must have been a big adventure.
We came along well and explored the city together. It was impressive. I never had seen a city like this. It seemed like another world to me. A place in a corner of the world which was so different and fascinating. We walked through the narrow streets passing the villagers houses and they were smiling, greeting and encouring us to take pictures of them. I guessed they don’t see many tourists here. Usually tourists only go to coast where all the big cities are. According to the big guide books there is only nothingness in the West of China but we discovered a fascinating world. The Autonomous Uygur Province Xinjiang is the biggest Province of China covering a quarter of the whole China. It stretches along the historical area of East Turkestan. Indigenous Uyghurs claim that the region is not a part of China, but that the Second East Turkestan Republic was illegally incorporated by China in 1949 and has since been under Chinese occupation. For how long it will be possible to travel there freely as a tourist is doubtful. Many say soon it will be like Tibet Province.
In the even we sat on the roof top of the hostel with few other people and talked about the wonderful things coming with traveling, what you learn and what experience you have on your journey. Afterwards I enjoyed the calm night again in front of my tent. In these calm moments I could gain back energy for my coming trip across China.
After two reenegerizing days I felt like hitting the road again and throwing myself into the adventure of hitchhiking through Western China all the way to Beijing. It was already late afternoon and the Australian man with long white beard adviced me to better start early in the next morning. But I didn’t care about the time. For me there was no difference. I had to sleep somewhere anyways for all the next days. If I would make only one or two hundred kilometers it was fine. At least I was on the road and on the way. In my head I had a rough route to Beijing making a little detour to Tibetian region. However, what exactly would happen, where I would stop, where I would sleep and who I would meet, I had no idea of. It was up to the road by then.