In the words of The Clash “Should I stay or should I go now…” was the theme of our morning. It has been a reoccurring discussion several times thus far resulting in one option on some occasions and the other option on different occasions. Today we decided to have it for the last time; to finalize our route plans A, B, and C, quite literally. We spent the morning delving into our route and exposing just how much time it will take us to arrive at each town big enough to offer resupply. We looked at when and where we will be able to accomplish our border runs. Mainly we needed to know how many days not making forward progress we can afford to spend, whether it’s a rest day or sight-seeing.
It’s a tricky business to figure out our plan for the next six and a half months when a single day can jeopardize the plan. Not very comforting, is it? Well, with great challenge comes great reward. We plan to walk the northern route from Urumqi to Kazakhstan where we will drop down into Kyrgyzstan and the site of the 2018 World Nomad Games next to Issyk-Kul Lake. Through this route, we hope to gain a deeper connection with the games that we will be attending later next year and Kyrgyzstan as a whole.
After answering a few of these questions, we went for lunch and a bit of a walk to stretch our legs after being cooped-up all morning. Our walk brought us to the Huazang Temple. The Huazang Temple in this town is a simple building with two rooms; a shrine and a prayer room in a horseshoe shape and around it is where we all lit a candle and spun the Tibetan prayer cylinders. Outside this small sanctuary was rubble with a new outer wall being built around the perimeter and a few housing buildings off to one side. We questioned how it had come to this state of being and what might have happened to the old before the new began to rise. It turns out this town is part of a Tibetan autonomous county. Most of China has English accompanying the Chinese characters while this town has Tibetan instead. (Pictures of the temple and town are in yesterday's entry.)
The rest of our day was spent being nerds. As Timb and Paul played Magic: the Gathering—a trading card game—I downloaded an emulator to kick it old school playing Pokémon Yellow. All in all it was a mighty nice day as we enjoyed the extra time in our hotel living room on the couch. Handy travel tip: traveling in the off-season provides some nice leverage for bargaining.
Total: 939 Km
End: Tianzhu (天祝)- Hotel
Written by Pat