adventures in the people's republic of china and beyond

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Gaochang ruins

The Gaochang ruins were the next stop on our trip. It was mid-afternoon and exceedingly hot. I waited around for Rebecca to finish using the bathroom. Uyghur donkey cart drivers sat at the entrance to pick up crowds of tourists, and a driver relaxing on his cart enjoyed himself by making loud guttural noises at passing females.

We walked off into the ruins, ignoring the drivers who, in broken Chinese, tried to convince us we were missing out on emperors and palaces. The ruins were surprisingly peaceful as nobody else seemed to be walking around, the other visitors electing to ride donkey carts instead.

Gaochang is the site of an ancient pre-Islamic city-state, but all that’s left now are large rock formations that used to be buildings. Ancient ruins and rock formations tend to excite me, though, so we had to go. Most of the ancient buildings just looked like big rectangular rocks, but a few of them still had window and door holes left carved into the rock. As far as I understand it there really was a big somewhat-recognizable palace 6km away where the donkey men were driving, but I don’t think we missed too much.

After walking around for a while, we grew very hot, stopping in the shade of a large rock to rest for a while and drink up the rest of our water. We’d seen enough ruins for the day, and I was developing a headache from the heat, so we went back to the entrance, where a young Uyghur fellow was screaming at the top of his voice “xigua yi goi yi goi yi goi!”(1 kuai for watermelons!)

On the road to our next destination, I began to feel very sick and nauseous from the headache and the heat. I struggled to not vomit. Suddenly, I also felt the need to use the bathroom. We pulled over at a Sinopec and I rushed in. I must have defecated over a liter of pure water. Rebecca was suffering from the same condition as well. I was pretty embarrassed; I mean, as a kid, I used to hike around in the desert under the New Mexico sun all the time and never had any problems, wasn’t I immune to heatstroke?

We stopped by the official “flaming mountains” site, which we did not enter, but stopped long enough to take a pic (it didn’t turn out that great anyway). I was feeling quite sick, so we went back to Turpan and called it a day. I dozed off for the rest of the day, feeling quite weakened, but I regained my strength around evening.

To be continued...


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He has been awarded several prizes.

Don't forget the name of this great author, you'll be hearing of him soon.

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