Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A post on how I nearly got abducted in Xinjiang province

I don't know that I really want to post this. Partly because it is the type of thing that'll make Mum freak out. Partly because I feel like such an idiot.

We went to visit Karakol Lake yesterday. It was a cool drive from Kashgar, through an army checkpoint (because the lake is only about 300 kms from Pakistan) up into the snow-capped mountains.

The lake is quite touristy, with a wooden walkway going round, tiny stalls selling mainly rocks and a whole lot of men with little mountain ponies offering pony rides. Al had told us when we arrived that we were welcome to take pony rides at our own risk.

I went for a brief paddle in the lake, but nearly got carried away by mosquitoes. So I went to go and talk to the ponies. I was on my own on account of feeling slightly antisocial. Plus, I didn't think talking to ponies would be a widely popular pass time.

Gaah! I still feel silly. The men kept coming up to me. 'Want to go for a ride? shi quai, shi quai.' I kept saying 'No, no, I just want to say hello.' There was one persistent man on a grey pony. Finally he said 'No money, no money.' and I agreed I had no money. All I had brought with me from the truck was knitting and an umbrella. He said 'No, you give no money, go for a ride.'

Unfortunately, the part of my brain shouting 'Danger, Will Robinson!' was drowned out by the part jumping up and down squealing 'Pony ride, pony ride!'

I looked into his earnest blue-grey Xinjiang eyes for a heartbeat and decided 'What the hell.'

I slipped off my Birkenstocks and jumped on the back of the sturdy little mountain horse. I got tangled half way as the guy tried to help me.

I felt deep joy at being on horseback once again. Even though I was on a lead rein.

And then the questions started. They were the typical run. Where are you from? Aodaliya How old are you? 30 Oh me too. Do you speak Chinese? A little. How much longer are you in China? Two days Do you have a husband? Yes. Do you have children? Yes. How many? One. Boy or girl? Girl. How old? Four.

Then, as we got out of sight of the tourist area, he jumped up on the pony behind me. Inner-pony-girl was looking at the grasslands rolling away to the distant yurts and wanted to keep going. Suddenly-a-bit-concerned-girl looked down at his hands clasped around her middle and said she wanted to go back. When his hands moved up and he told her she was beautiful Suddenly-upset-and-angry-girl pushed his hands away and started repeating in high-pitched English and Chinese that she wanted to go back now.

We turned back and, when we got in sight of the people again, he jumped down and I rode back on my own (oh the glorious freedom). I turned down his offer of a free motorbike ride around the lake (only half an hour, no money) and went and sought refuge with Tash and Andrew. Then Al told a comforting story about how Kyrgyz men acquire brides (abduction on horse back, the father has 20 minutes to get her back or she's married).


brent said...


Less being abducted please!

Ceels said...

I still feel silly.