Huo er guo si

*Entry #100*

Military Checkpoint on the road from Huo Cheng to Huo er guo si.

PLA Private upon seeing a foreigner in the van…”WTF?…is that…?….no way…”

PLA Private (in Mandarin, of course): Can I see your documents?

Bryan (in English): Ok *produces passport, foreign expert certificate, and residency permit*

PLA Private (now with a Sergeant): Where are you going?

Bryan: Uh….umm…well….Huo er guo si….?

Bewildered PLA Sergeant: ??????

*hurried chatter from other passengers*

PLA Sergeant: Where are you going and what is your plan? (I’m fairly sure that is what he wanted to know)

Bryan: *dammit…I’m on my own with this one…better pull out the Mandarin*….uh….wo yao qu Huo er guo si…..?

PLA Sergeant: Huo er guo si….?

Bryan: ummm…dui….? Ahhh…Huo er guo si…ji dian….uh….ming tian…wo yao qu Huo Cheng…shit…ummm…wo de huache piao….Wulumqi…ah…shi liu…heh heh heh….yeah.

PLA Sergeant: *inspecting documents for the 5th time* ??????….ah….Wulumqi.

Bryan: *pulls out train ticket*…umm…dui…Wulumqi…wo de piao…shi liu…heh heh.

PLA Sergeant: Ok, Ok…bye bye.

More curiosity than anything…seriously…I bet these border guards didn’t wake up in the morning expecting to find a foreigner tucked away in a van with the goal of getting to the Kazakh border…but there was still a small part of me that began to question the wisdom of my little adventure. It truly is the Wild West out here. I was only 1200km away from Afghanistan.

The van drops me off in the ‘town center’ of Huo er guo si.

I gather my gear and walk up to the nearest motorcycle cab….

“uh…binguan?”

“Ha Ha Ha….binguan…heh heh…ok”

The cab engages a u-turn and proceeds down the street for 30 seconds.

“Zhe ge binguan…heh heh….er kuai…heh heh heh”

“Oh…ok…er kuai”

Yet another ‘Friendship Hotel. Upon registering, I am told that I will not have to see the police here…instead I am to hand over my passport for the duration of my stay…”for my safety”…and also as a preventative measure in case I get any urges to high-tail it to Kazakhstan.

Despite lacking hot water, the hotel had a wide assortment of Russian television programming including a number called “Heli-cops” which was actually just a rip-off of the 1980’s series Airwolf.

Again, there is a substantial military presence in this town…troops with AK’s, guard towers, fixed machine gun emplacements…barbed wire…the works….you will have to take my word for it…as there was no way I was going to attempt to take ANY photos of this stuff…I was a little frightened just taking photos of the border.

Huo er guo si is truly a one horse town. A large chunk of the local population had temporarily migrated on account of Spring Festival and town itself gave off an eerie feeling of abandonment….almost like a ghost town. There was hardly anyone there and 70% of the shops were closed. Aside from the border, there is not much here anyways…although I’m told there is a large bazaar in the summer. It was a different experience, given the usual ‘packed tighter than Dick Cheney in spandex’ feel of Chinese cities and settlements.

One day was enough, and I was back on the mini-bus in the morning, bound for Huo Cheng.

3 Responses to Huo er guo si

  1. sue says:

    Hey – liked your pictures! Beautiful mountains – were you on horseback too? Who is the fellow in the picture? He looks friendly. I couldn’t open all of the pictures but that might just be our slow old computer and out in the boonies dial up system.

  2. Connie says:

    wow, you make xinjiang look very appealing. yummy snow. not a lot of people. my kind of place.

  3. Bryan says:

    tasty grey snow

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