In the town of Tashkurgan, home of the Tajik people in Xinjiang, bordering Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, I met this boy in the old mountainous Pamir region. It is said that this town marks the middle way between Europe and China. The faces I saw there were unforgettable.
As children run wild, they carry with them the giggling essences of the land, rivers and mountains…
Tashkurgan, a gem of a city, surrounded by golden grasslands, snow capped Pamir mountains, streams, expansive skies and filled with friendly Tajik people who welcome a traveler with bright smiles as they always have when their city was a main stop on the old silk road. Drive 2 hours and you will be in Pakistan, Tashkurgan (literally stone fortress) was once the capital of the Sarikol Kingdom. Now Tashkurgan is part of China’s Xinjiang province and access to it is determined by permits and a military checkpoint about tow hours away on the Karakorum highway. I was very lucky to spend time with its children, to walk its streets and to breathe its fresh air.
They say when something is far from your eyes it is also far from your heart and mind…
I wonder about our lives in this century so often and how much of our lives are spent in boxes both inside our minds and inside our homes. All we have to do to be awed by nature is to see nature, and to feel the magnificence of the planet we call home. I have found that the most religious people I have ever met are those who choose to be close to the earth and to the sky, who choose the simple life instead of the complicated and who find their god in the open skies and in the tiniest of flowers. It is such a pity that most of us these days see our flowers on ipad and computer screens and how little chance we have to experience life with all of our senses.
photo taken: a couple of shepherds in the grasslands of Tashkurgan near the Pakistani border~ Xinjiang.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, spanning more than 1.6 million square kilometeres in the north western part of China, borders Tibet, Russia, Mongolia, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Kasakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It is home to different ethnic groups like Uyghur, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz, Mongol, Tajik and the Han Chinese. Only about 4,3% of Xinjian is suitable for human habitation.
Traveling in Xinjiang was an unforgettable adventure. This month’s journey will start in Kashgar, go across the old silk road to the high mountain of Tashkurgan near the Pakistani border and then go back to end in Kashgar again. The people I met on this trip were some of the brightest, most hospitable and unique tribes in this part of the world. The name Uyghur translates to ‘united’ or ‘people coming together’, as these wonderful people demonstrate in their great sense of community and age old traditions.
photo taken: a playful moment between brothers in an old city street in Kashgar.