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Silk Road

Hong Kong, China

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Dernier déjeuner à Hong Kong, à l’aéroport. Le plaisir de voir les yeux de Kim devant son bol de wan tan et la première bouchée de Cha Sive.

Nous sommes dans l’avion et dans quelques heures Maurice.

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Hong Kong, China

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Hong Kong que Kim redécouvre 10 années après. Quelques courses et un somptueux diner avec Raj, Brigitte et Ashwin. Un retour à la « civilisation », des reflexes à perdre, no more Point it. Le plaisir de redécouvrir et d’apprécier les choses simples de notre quotidien. Des toilettes qui marchent, des personnes polies et prévoyantes. Une foule de petites évidences qui nous paraîtront désormais précieuses.

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Xi’an, China

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90 jours! Au delà de nos petites différences, au delà de quelques accrochages mineurs, nous nous avons été les deux étonnés de la facilité de nos relations, de la douceur des rapports et de la facilité de nos décisions. Kim ne souffre pas d’être bousculé ; il faut lui donner le temps de trouver la bonne voie. Si au début du voyage le choix tardait à venir, au fur et à mesure de notre périple, il effectuait de plus en plus vite ses décisions. Son calme naturel devant toute situation lui rendait l’analyse des problèmes plus aisée. Je laissais faire et à la fin, nous avions une entente tacite qui coulait de source.

J’ignorais exprès ses réactions un peu agressives en restant calme, et les choses rentraient dans l’ordre. Il était étonné de ma flexibilité. Pascale nous posait sans cesse la même question ; « Papa te fait-il des misères ? » J’ai découvert en lui un jeune homme très agréable, ouvert, équilibré et ne tolérant aucune injustice, avec une soif d’équilibre et de justesse dans toute opinion ou traitement.

Ce dernier diner que nous faisons à Xi’an (canard délicieux) a permis un échange touchant en confidences de nos attentes et de nos découvertes réciproques. Nous nous sommes découverts. Et je suis aussi fier de lui qu’il a pu l’être de moi. Il a compris ce travail, ce rôle que j’ai su remplir au sein de l’UIA. Il était heureux de voir combien j’étais respecté et aimé par les architectes dans chacun des pays que nous avons traversé. J’étais très heureux de partager tout cela avec lui. Souvent lors de nos conversations, j’ai eu le sentiment de lui transmettre des éléments qui lui serviront toute la vie. Un peu comme les échanges que j’ai moi-même eus avec mon père.

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Xi’an, China

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The Emperor Jingdi tumb was much more revealing of the life of the dynasty in these days than the Terracotta warriors. The museum is well designed and gave us an excellent insight of the period. It is unfortunate that the English texts were so succinct. We went on a shopping craze this afternoon and bought mainly clothes and shoes for Kim. I think he loved it. Tomorrow will be our last day in Xi’an before Hong Kong.

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Xi’an, China

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This was once the terminus of the Silk Road. It is my 4th time here since 1997. Each time sees the change. Even Lonely Planet 2009 announces 4,2 m but now it has 8 m population. The Muslim quarter is totally transformed into souvenir shops and one can hardly recognize the original buildings. Of course the city walls are still there but inside them Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Armani shops set a different scene. We have seen more tourists in one day than the total of the whole of this trip. My last visit to Xi’an was 3 years ago and I had the privilege of being welcomed by the Mayor and the City itself. The City walls gate were open especially for me just like B Clinton. It is a very different story to visit the Terracotta warriors, just the 2 of us among the bus loads of tourists. We had a farewell dinner with Julien and Isabelle, the French couple whom we met in Kashgar. We will follow them on their blog.

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Wudu-Tianshui, China

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Like any other city the people dance on the main square, from young to the older. Last evening Kim and I got caught and dragged to the dancing floor by an old lady. She would not let us go. The whole crowd were amused and clapped happily after. I think we were the only foreigners in town.

At the last minute we tried to skip Tianshui and buy a train ticket to Xi’an. But we only managed to get tickets for tomorrow.

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Tianshui, China

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We are at the Beidao side of the city in a hotel just opposite the train station. We are booked for the 10:00 train. Although Qincheng is supposed to be a pleasant city, we only see the grey polluted side of it.

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Li Jie– Zhouqu – Wudu, China

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Zhouqu! The great thing about Zhouqu is that it resolves the dilemma of dust and mud. You don’t have to choose, you can have both. In fact you can have heat, dust and mud. If there is a city one would not wish to be, it would be here. The whole town is a construction site with not a single road, area which is not being demolished and rebuilt. Some cities are only polluted; here you can add the heat, the noise and the ugliness of the new. The future will be bright and ugly.

The police work well here in China. We were waited for on our arrival and descent from the minibus in Zhouqu. The policeman in civil was waiting and we were asked to follow him in a small van to a hotel opposite the police station. Soon after an English speaking policewoman joined us in the hotel lobby for the “interview”. Photocopies of passports and visa checks in the most polite way. The lady policeman then accompanied us and paid for the dumplings, then showed us to the bus station. We were advised to be careful for the journey

I had a haircut, short this time during the 3 hours of bus waiting. The whole staff and their friends turned up to see the foreigners and took the souvenir photos after.

We are off to Wudu and would like to try the same scenario, that is, drop off at a small village

Noise!! This is another cultural issue. In this bus, the driver is like mad crazy with the horn, the screen is projecting a Hong Kong movie loud enough for everyone to follow, passengers talk among themselves from the back of the bus to the front ones, others scream in their phone, while my neighbor blows his chewing gum in my nose and the other can spit his phlegm out of the window. In this cacophony some can sleep.

 

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Sary-Tash to Osh23

Osh- Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

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Taijk Border to Osh30  Osh to Naryn062

Compared to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan we are pleasantly surprised how efficiently and easy it was this morning to organize our trip to Naryn and then Lake Issyk-Kul. From Karakol we would go for a three day horse trek in the mountains. All was done in one hour and at a reasonable price.

It has been 52 days since we started the journey. We have been having an overdose of meat, shashlik, kebabs, laghman and plov. The preferred diet of Central Asians is meat, with both number 2 and number 3 as meat. We are craving for vegetable and fruit. Kim and I have game where in turn we mention the names of our preferred dishes. “A glass of red wine!” ahhh! or “Chatini bringelle” ahhh!

 

Just the names bring all the tastiest dreams to our mind. We are placing our hopes in China, dreaming that once the border crossed our wishes will be fulfilled. We keep fingers crossed.

 

We went through sun, rain, snow and hail. We gave a lift to a 13 year old young boy name Adelet waiting on the road side in the rain. His daily transport is a passing vehicle or a horse or on foot to go back home to the village which is like 6 km away after his day’s work looking at the animals in the jailo (pastures).

 

The diversity of the landscapes and their natural beauty leaves us breathless. It is like an interesting movie in a giant screen. We have travelled a whole day – over 13 hours and it keeps changing, offering every time a new scene.

 

The lift stairwell leading to the apartment homestay was dark and gloomy. In my mind, I was expecting and preparing myself to a hard and rough night in a soviet apartment. But it was comfortable and just right.