As harsh and as raw as Yunnan was to travel through, I am counting the days till I am able to go back there and be charmed again by its wild intensity. I have been told that the way I processed the photos of this past month has been too contrasty, too sharp, too extreme, and this is true. Yunnan for me was exactly that, rough, sharp, wild, and its lifestyle contrasting greatly with what I and most of us are used to. I feel that knowing different cultures thoroughly can only increase and deepen our humanity. So with that, I say farewell to the Honghe region of Yunnan and its colorful people and I will meet you again tomorrow with the start of a new month of images, somewhere entirely different…
Thank you for your comments, encouragement, advice and views along the way.
How often do we find ourselves having to go through our children’s toy boxes to throw things away simply because they have outgrown some, some have been just neglected and others are just no longer wanted. And do you recall when you were a child having a single toy that you treasure, valued and held on to for years on end?
With this I end this month’s series on Vietnam, a place so haunting and beautiful, made so much more special by its strong people, who despite all what they have gone through, remain friendly, courteous and hospitable to visitors.
Moving on to the next, and sorry for the flood of posts today to catch up with my project during travels and scarce internet availability.
In our lives we get so comfortable with the familiar, we anchor ourselves in the past and we walk around with the certainty of the now. The future, we file in our minds as unknown, not yet tread, uncertain, and we handle it with the tools of our past based on what we already know and have done. But what if the rules of the game have changed? What if the future is dealing us a new card? What if the path is about to change direction? How then do we get ourselves fit to interpret the future? Where do find the tools to update ourselves and be ready for what is clearly changing all what we know from governments, weather patterns, mental possibilities, arts, technology… everything that we see resulting from that which we don’t see?
Woke up to so many more questions today…
photo taken: an old man walking on a Kashgar city street~ Xinjiang
Starting around 200 BC, a network of trade routs was created linking China, India, other parts of Asia, Afro Asia and Europe. Its name comes from the German (Seidenstrasse), the silk road saw the trade of silk, tea, spices, glassware, jewelry, gold, silver, perfumes, textiles, precious stones as well as the dreaded bubonic plague.
It felt very moving to drive along a part of this historic road, and to stand and imagine the thousand upon thousands of travelers who spent hundreds of days and nights in their adventures on that very same ground. Our planet’s history is so rich with tales of what has been, and the stories are there to be discovered, marveled at and pondered at. It is after all our story and its events the stepping stones that led us to where we all stand today.
Houses were built so that we may hide behind their windows and doors…
The old city of Kashgar is a maze of old narrow alleys, meandering around and around, some leading to the city center, others ending with stone walls that bar your entry. I was told that the cobble stones in the alley are shaped in code, letting you know what kind of alley it is. Square stones lead you to a dead end, while hexagonal ones will merge into another alley. The old city is filled with old codes, with mystery, with agreed to signs that only the inhabitants know of. And when you walk down those alleys, there is no knowing what eyes are watching you from behind the old Kashgar doors.
In the streets of old Kashgar I met so many children, playful, joyful, running here and there, but not this little boy. I had some candy in my pocket that I offered him and he just stood there looking at me then down at his shoes, then at me again until he summoned the courage to extend his had for the sweet candy only to drop his eyes back again to his feet. He looked so innocent and fragile with his borrowed woman’s shoe that I almost reached out to hug him… but I did not. He walked slowly away down the alley to found the door to his house and disappear into it.
As beautiful as the old city of Kashgar is, it is also heartbreaking to visit. The charming old architecture is being demolished systematically by the authorities section by section for the last few years. The reason given: a possible danger from earthquakes the real reason, I leave for you to research. The locals are horrified as they are moved family by family outside the city and in place of their neighborhoods, malls, plazas, and fancy holiday housing is being planned and erected. Every year less and less of this historical city is left to admire and its traditions diluted slowly into the new characterless architecture. Yes, it is most definitely painful to see and to know about.
photo taken: a little family in front of a neighborhood condemned to be demolished in the old city of Kashgar
The simpler the people the easier it is for them to smile…
Have you noticed how in the so-called civilized and developed countries, you end up praying for the sun to shine to get a half-smile out of people in the street? We have complicated our modern lives so much that we end up dragging ourselves around miserably with the weight of problems that we took on voluntarily. Then you meet people in developing countries whose lives are simple, whose worries, as big as they may be, are straightforward and uncomplicated so they can smile so easily from ear to ear when prompted!
When I met this man in Kashgar and tried to photograph him and talk to him with my conversational chinese and his Uyghur dialect, we just ended up standing there in the middle of midday traffic just grinning at each other like two simpletons 🙂
In me this moment lives as one of life’s precious gifts valued and not to be forgotten.