Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My last nights in the Uilgar filled community have left me running for the hills, literally. After heading back into the desert town of Urumqi, i found my self in the center of a 100 year racial and cultural battle. The underlying tension in these towns is so thick you could cut it with a knife, and that is exactly what almost happened. The Uilgar people have been experiencing a slow, but steady cultural wipe out, with the central government of china at the helm. To them i am simply the "Han" face that represented every independent offense they had experienced throughout the last century. As five Uilgar men approached me in a nearly empty restaurant, i could feel the conflict brew to a boiling point. The table behind me (full of Han men) stood up and joined the fight on my behalf. Uilgar men are known for carrying large knifes, yet in my mind i was thinking of this, i was tired of being scapegoated for every Han offense. In the end things settled with little more than mere words, yet for a brief moment i felt the true essence of modern life on the silk road. Its a place of conflicting worlds, as it has been for the last 2000 years, and thus a place of constant struggle.

Now (many bus hours later) I'm in the tiny town of Xia He on the eastern side of Tibet. The town, which holds the largest running Buddhist monastery in China, is nestled between

impressive snow capped mountains and a large yellow river. I am surrounded by Monks in red robes, constantly turning the prayer wheels. The smell of yak butter tea rises from every building (a nice change from cooking sheep).

Tomorrow i will go try to catch the monks in their daily debates, it should be fantastic! From here i will continue to head south towards kunming. On this long journey Ive found myself in moments of doubt, this is definitely my hardest trip yet seeing as i am totally alone in a somewhat inhospitable land. But your messages of support have seriously given me renewed energy at almost every juncture. Please keep them coming, even if i don't respond (the Internet is really slow here and its hard to send messages).

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