Tag Archives: Kuqa 库车

West Again: Postcard from Aksu, Where the Prejudice is only Skin-Deep

2013-06-21 2013-06-21 001 002Travel Log, 20 June.

Today on the local bus:
Middle-aged Han Chinese lady to me: “You Americans truly grow up quite handsome.” (Note: this is a fairly casual compliment in China, freely dispensed.)
Me: “Funny you say that to me, because we look just like Uighurs!” I nodded to the Uighur men sitting next to me.
Lady: (Frowning, shaking head, seeming to recoil at the thought.) “Ugh. UGH! No. You do not look the same.”
Me: “Sure we do.”
Lady: “No. You? Handsome. Uighurs? Not handsome.”
Me: “I mean, there’s no big difference. We’re like the same race.”
Lady: “It’s the nose.”
Me: “The nose?”
Lady: “Yeah. Your nose is just more… bulbous (圆形)! And it not only sticks out really far, but it also goes all the way back up to between your eyes! Uighurs do not have nice noses like that.”
Me: “Hmm. Well, in America, a smaller “Uighur nose” would actually be considered a lot better-looking than mine.”
Lady: “Ugh.”  Continue reading


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Postcard from the Taklamakan Desert Highway

Dune after dune, each lovelier than the last750 kilometers across barren, windswept sands. We’re putting the Tian Shan at our backs and heading across the Taklamakan. Destination: Khotan, former capital of another ancient Indo-European civilization in these parts, now part of the Uigher heartland. Mode of travel: camel worse: sleeper bus. At least the Uigher and Central Asian music videos will have better tunes than the endless-repeat Chinese radio fare!

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Postcard from Kuqa

Through the train window, a Heavenly Mountain sunrise

We took the last train in, scoring sleeper berths and waking as we wound our way out of a section of the Tian Shan / Heavenly Mountains. And now we’ll ride the first bus out, too. Not a bad place here in Kuqa, and some of the friendliest folks we’ve met so far. Site of the former Qiuci Kingdom (whose last king still lives!), as well as the ancient city-state that first transmitted Buddhism to China. Great mutton-filled buns, too. But when we found out that tomorrow’s outbound (Friday) bus is already filled, while today’s still has tickets, our hand was forced. So now, after lunch and a wander, we’re going to make like the looted Buddhist frescoes around here and never return. Hosh! Continue reading

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