Saturday, 28 July 2007


Xinjiang, the "new territories" to the Occident of China. The majority is Muslim, border region with the ex-soviet republics of Central Asia, nowadays difficult to access corrupted dictatorships.

Kirghistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan among others. All these peoples are found in Xinjiang, also named Chinese Turkmenistan. European Caucasian contrasting with the Chinese Han, here in minority.

Occupied territories? Tibet? Fundamentalism, attacks on buses, independence, news that rarely get here but nonetheless very actual.

The biggest part is a desert. A deadly desert. A suffocating heat, the hotest place of all China. Temperatures can easily blow up to 50 degrees. Mirages happen. I saw Sven Heddin walking in the sand. The last maps of the world are drawn. Tombs are violated and History is stolen. The oasis in the middle of the desert. The Buddhist manuscripts of Dong Huang. Urumqi stands at three days from Beijing by train, the notions of space and time are lost.


Seen from a higher ground. It's one of the images that has marked my memory.


A pause at Lake Karakul. This kind of blue doesn't exist anywhere else. I went after the Turkmonan, he had a fantastic set of spectacles. Suddenly, the young officer entered in my view-finder, he got nervous and started to shake. He didn't asked me the film.


They came from the left and stopped in front of me, without a word. I took the picture and carried on their way.


Tahkurgan is the first place where you stop arriving from the high Pakistan. A border post with a majority of Tajiks and Chinese soldiers, the arrival to China is through a road that reaches 4700 and a few metres. On the top, the Chinese soldiers organise camel races, Bactrian camels, the air is pure and the marmots in the sun.

I got sick on the way down. The bearded Taliban with Ray-Bans which was driving the bus, was staring at me through the mirror, with a despising look and grim. A group of Chinese that was by my side also became sick. When I looked at them, their faces had turned green.

I think I passed out, I couldn't see a thing. the smell of gasoline was the only present thing. And always the fat Taliban staring at me. He was ready to kill me while I was sick.

At Tashkurgan, I've been well treated. I think it was a "secret agent" from the PSB with a black leader jacket, coming out of one of those Chinese police and thieves movie. In Beijing, I used to recognised them all miles away; I've earned some practise.

The customs employees searched all the lugage of the Chinese, and found some Chinese versions of the Koran, they were Muslims from a neighbouring province. As far I've understood, the texts didn't cross the border.

An American woman thought she had more privileges, she managed to gather two or three Pakistanis to take care of her. I turned on the first right in direction of the centre.


He saw me taking his picture. He stopped and came to me, he wanted me to send him a copy. He could not write the address.


The Pamir mountains. Th other side of the Karakoram, of the high Himalayas, after the border with Pakistan. The mountains stop being the young Himalayas with violent contours to give place to older and rounder shapes. In the plains, Tajiks, Uighurs, Kirghiz's and Turcomans. The legendary Tartary of the Silk Road.


Near Kashgar, a stop on the road, reveals Uighurs peoples, of Turkish ascendancy.

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