The sun is out already by 4AM. I lie awake for sometime in my yurt. Both Jorg and Birdy are still asleep. Inside the yurt it is pitch black, but I can see little sparkles of light through the netting. I have a few quilts on me, and I feel a bit hot, strangely. I get up slowly, trying to make my way through to the door without knocking over either of the two sleepers.
As I throw the quilts aside, immediately the cold comes back, crawling its fingers deep into my pores. My naked feet immediately protest. I hop, jump and skip near where I think the door is, and put my shoes on. I peer out, and immediately I am dazzled by the light. Gently, I pull the door shut, and stand there, huddling inside my jacket. The mountains in front of me are bathed in golden light, their peaks brimming with iridescence. I step back inside, and take my camera, shivering as I do so. 5AM. Mahmet’s family are also asleep. It’s just me, the lake and the sun, and the mountains. Just how I would want a perfect life. Oh well, I wouldn’t mind a companion or two. And a dog. The dog is there though, a shaggy worn thing blinking at my lazily.
I walk a few steps, and point the camera here. Point the camera there. No use. I cannot simply take a photo that will ever give the exact impression of what I see. It’s impossible to portray beauty on canvas or print without leaving a little of that beauty aside. I call it our debt to nature. I feel peaceful, calm and something else that I hadn’t felt at all – the feeling of not feeling anything. To just be, and watch the sun’s rays kiss your stone-cold face. What better feeling can there be?
A little later, as I brush my teeth with the same ice-cold water, Jorg and Birdy are awake too. Mahmet gives us some butter tea and bread, while we pack our bags ready to leave. There is a bus that will come at around 8:30 or so, we are told. It’s still around 7AM, and we have a long wait then. We sit outside the yurt, Jorg and I, while Birdy runs around taking pictures as usual. I have some bread, but after a while, the stone bread is hard even for me. I give some to the dog, which also struggles to wolf it down. Behind me, a goat scrambles after something.
We look through some photos, but we just talk. About what, the memory now eludes me. We wonder if we will get a bus back, but then it should be fine. Staying here for another night is not a bad idea either.
We don’t have to stay though. A van comes up to the yurt. There is a taciturn woman sitting there. They are going to Kashgar, and after some haggling for Yuan 50, he agrees to drop us in Kashgar. Relieved that we don’t have to wait for an uncertain bus, we drop our bags and are ready to go. Past another Army checkpoint, past some passport checks, and then all too soon we are in Kashgar. We are dropping in the middle of nowhere by the rather unfriendly van driver (Are there friendly ones in Kashgar?!), and after lunch in a Sichuan restaurant, served by an equally grumpy waitress, we somehow reach the hotel.
Kashgar is hot. What a change. How easy it would be to just go to the desert. I don’t think I have ever been in a place where you can say you have been in the freezing cold ice-capped mountains in the morning at 9AM and then say at 2PM you are in the desert. But that’s how Kashgar is placed. We decide to use our free afternoon for some shopping and set off to the bazaar. There is nothing much that I can buy. There are dry fruits on display but haggling with them is a pain, and I give up. I have no idea if the price in India is cheaper, and in any case, I feel Kashgar-ed out. I don’t want to buy anything, money is also a factor, but the other factor, is I really don’t want to buy from here. We buy some raisins for Dawei, and then prepare for another train journey in the morning tomorrow. To Urumqi.