• Tag Archives Ella Maillard
  • May 18 to Saturday 20: Free in Charkilik / Ruoqiang

    xiaohejpg-8ae3d9f2df5727d7Ruoqiang is, for us, travellers from West to East, the exit gate from the Xinjiang, and the entry to the Haixi region. We leave the Tarim Basin, and the Uyghur area to enter the Qaidam and the Mongol area. Near Charkilik (near at China distances, 220 Km) was located Loulan one of the old cities in the desert, near the wandering lake of Lop Nor. And Ruoqiang has an interesting museum, which hosts the “Beauty of Loulan”, a red haired mummy, of Caucasian origin (aka. European) who died 3.800 years ago. There is an interesting history underneath, almost a detective novel, because.. what did a red haired, 45 year old european woman doing in the Takla-Makan, 40 centuries ago?.

    Ella and Peter skipped Charkilik, because they try to avoid controls, and they knew that they will found them in the main road, in the Altyn Tag pass. We have three days in Ruoqiang, it would be nice to be able to find one in Ruoqiang to go through the old 315 Road (marked in the map as “Tarim-Qaidam nn”). Part of the road is clear, because there are photographs of it, and it is a tarred road. But when it is marked with (?) that means that the road path is not clear.tarim qaidam

    Of course, as always, there is a “B Plan”, if we have not found a 4WD in Cherchen that drives us through the desert and beyond, Lonely Planet Guide says that there is a daily sleeper bus from Ruoqiang to Golmud. And other travellers say that there are minibuses from Ruoqiang to the Altyn Tag mines.

    Atacama near Copiapo

  • May 12, 2017: Niya-Qiemo (200 Km) by local bus

    china-1-051It took eight camel stages to Peter and Kini to reach Niya from Qiemo (Cherchen). Their guide was Aziz… but let Peter do the talking: “He was an obsequious and ingratiating Turki, neither particularly efficient nor particularly honest, but recommended by his command of bad Chinese”… The description is really up to the point (it may be true or not, but in any case, we imagine Aziz, and I wonder how many people I know like him, nor efficient, nor honest, but knowing the inside talk of – medicine, computers, taxes, laws – whatever). And Peter continues: “He wore a black three-cornered hat, and a rusty bottle-green coat tied round the waist with a scarf which might have been a dirty tricolour”.

    And they depart Cherchen, through a less desert country than expected “June and July are not good months to travel the Takla Makan and we had a certain dread of the desert. At first it seemed less naked, through not less desolate, than expected”.

    So, we travel in May, that does not mind that it would be a better month to travel the Takla Makan, but… we may wander if there is a good month to travel it.

    And what is to be seen in this stage?
    If we decide to stop midway, we may visit Endere (supposing that no permit is requested, or we can get one)stein_endere_4 although it does not seem really interesting.

    In Qiemo one thing to do is to visit the
    Toghlarek Villa, which is a small museum of domestic tools, and it is also home of the mummy of the “man of Cherchen” and we should probably go also to the Zaghanluk Cemetery, 15 minute drive away.

    And the other is to organize the next stages, it would be interesting to hire there a 4 WD car (with driver of course) to follow the Cherchen River to Karghilik, and if possible, to continue with this driver the next stages, beyond Karghilik, were things really become interesting. We should stay from Saturday 13 to Monday 15 in Qiemo, but if we are able to get a car there, probably we may stay one day more, or slept somewhere in between Qiemo and Charkilik (350 Km through the main road)

    To May 2017 Trip:
    2017: Hotan Keriya
    May 2017: General View of the trip Part 1
    May 2017: General View of the trip Part 2

    Rather interesting link on this area, done by a cyclist cyclist link

    Camels (wild?) from adam blog linked above. Photo is not so good, but they represent the area
    Featured photo: Carlos Griell. Birds on a dune. Atacama
    Endere ruins: from the internet
    Last photo: Guangzhou food market, Carlos Griell, 1997

    Contact Form

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  • Riding on the steppe, while looking Slalom’s shadow

    From Peter Fleming: “It occurs to me that there is too much grumbling in this book. I am trying to give an honest account of this journey, but perhaps fidelity to the facts unwittingly distorts the picture, misapplies the emphasis, fails to reflect past reality (…)”

    And he continues

    “(…) when I try to recall what I have written, the pages seem loud with complaint; the winds, the delays, the monotony, the long stages, the tedious fare, these and many other factors, even if not explicitly inveighed against, must be building up for you a picture of a hard life in an unkind world. This picture is a false one”

    (…) “days when we rode or walked for hours, singly or together, filled with contentment at our lot. The sun shone, the mountains were alluring at our left, and we remembered the virtues of desolation and felt keenly the compensations of a nomad life”.

    And yes, Peter is right, his book, and also Ella’s, describe the troubles of the travel, the monotony, but, with these details, they enlighten the not-said. For example, when Ella explains the stage from Nomo-Kanthara to Gorumu, she says that, as they rode Northwest, her sole distraction for hours was to look at the displacement of the shadow of Slalom’s head going from the left to the right side of his neck. And we do not need to make an effort of imagination to feel the loneliness of riding for days on an empty space. These small details conform, like in dot-painting, the whole picture

    It happens often, small details convey messages to whoever wants to read them. Like this photograph, of three gondolieri taking a rest in a winter day, describes another Venice than the one we are used to visit.

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    Or the front one, the cosmopolitism of Paris, in front of Beaubourg

    Photo Credit: Author