Tuk to the Road

The trials and tukulations of Jo, Ants and Ting Tong the tuk tuk and our three-wheeled odyssey from Bangkok to Brighton...in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For more information please see www.tuktotheroad.com

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beautiful China

Saryam Lake, 70km from the Kazakh border (written 9th July)

We arrived yesterday at our final Chinese stop before leaving this wonderful country. Saryam Lake (pronounced Saleem) is located over one thousand metres above sea level and is the largest lake in China, covering a few hundred square km (sorry not to be specific with my measurments).

We drove from Urumqi in a day, a feat which we only dreamt of. Luckily they allowed us to drive on the Expressway again and so TT shot past Dong Fengs at 100km/hour and we covered 400 miles in under 12 hours. This has enabled us to have a full day off at the lake rather than be stuck in a homogeneous Chinese hotel.

I am lost for words by the beauty of this place. The lake is the most perfect bright blue- for those that remember their chemistry lessons, it is the colour of copper sulphate. The lake is surrounded by mountains, some rugged and some covered in grass. Traditional yurts are dotted on the grassy hills on one side of the lake, as well as herds of sheep and horses. Last night we climbed to the top of the nearest hill and enjoyed the sun setting- well, I nearly ruined the moment by trying to yodel. I was also wearing my Yi apron on top of my normal clothes, with an army hat and head band to complete the rather strange look. If it had been daylight I would have been deemed an eyesore.

We opted to stay in a pseudo-yurt. Apparently the real ones have a certain sheepy odour to them, are v cold and not v comfortable. Much as we both love to try the authentic experiences, we hope to stay in a 'proper' yurt in Kazakhstan, when it is not so important that we sleep well. Our yurt looks out over the lake and at night is blessed with electricity, although no central heating. We have a carpet on the floor, some basic wooden furniture and sleep on and in blankets, fully clothed with half of our rucksacks emptied on us to add to the warmth. Ants also wears her ear plugs and eye mask- apparently my snoring still penetrates the ear plugs though.

Last night we did not sleep very well, but to compensate I was woken by the most beautiful sunrise across the lake. Until the sun rises fully it is the temperature of England on an early spring morning i.e. chilly. In the morning we went riding for 2 hours. I didn't have any long trousers and so the inside of my calves are now suffering, having been rubbed red raw from cantering across the fields. I had forgotten how much I love riding and it was a magic experience. Riding was followed by a little siesta and then we had a short walk along the shore of the lake.

So, tomorrow we leave China and cross into Kazkhstan. We are both still nervous about what to expect. I feel like I am being sent back to school at the beginning of term and I don't want to go. I have cried quite a few tears today and will keep the experiences of the last 2 weeks in my heart forever. I will miss China so much and Jack has been an amazing and is now a good friend.


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