Huo er guo si

By Bryan • china • 3 Mar 2005

*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.

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3 Responses

  1. sue

    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

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

  3. Bryan

    tasty grey snow

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