I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
But first things first…
Allow me to introduce Shen Zhouyu 申周玉, 60year-old pensioner from Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐, who likes riding his bike all around China:
We battled it out taking pictures of each other – what a charming guy though! We exchanged numbers and became friends. I call him Uncle Shen 申叔叔 now. I’ll try to pay him a visit once I get to Ürümqi!
Well okay, you wanna know how I was misled.
Here’s the thing: people had been telling me about this sightseeing spot called White Pagoda Temple 白塔寺.
– and everyone had assured me that I would find a hotel around there.
So I took my time, got up for a late start, then slowly made my way through the fields:
Pure countryside, beautiful villages:
And then there it was, suddenly:
The White Pagods.
This place was definitely worth the visit, simply because it was so pretty:
These are all brand-spanking new pagodas though, the only real relic is this one:
Don’t ask me what year this is originally from, the only thing I found out is that it’s apparently a site dedicated to Lamaism, which would make an initial construction during the Yuan-dynasty very probable.
People had left things at the stump of the old pagoda:
There was nothing like this around the new pagodas though…
And another thing was missing: the promised hotel!
At nine in the evening, there I stood, and it was already too late to knock on people’s doors, and no good place around to pitch a tent either.
So I questioned the dude watching over the pagodas at night, and he told me I would have to walk exactly 7km, and there I would find a hotel in a place called Wunanzhen.
Well as much as I hated this option, but one and a half hours of walking didn’t seem that much, and also I really didn’t feel like I had any other choice.
So I set a point on my GPS, marking the promised hotel at 7km, and then I started stumbling through the dark:
Nice, can’t make out anything on this one but a bit of sound from the frogs – arrogant pricks, sitting there in their pond, all nice and cozy for the night!
It didn’t stay this idyllic for long though:
…the highway had gotten back to me, and the only thing I could do to amuse myself was this:
…cooperate with traffic to take night shots:
…would just wait for a car to illuminate a building, then shoot at a long exposure on the tripod:
Well, you wanna know the bad news? – Of course there was no hotel when I got to the 7km-marker.
There was no Wunanzhen either.
…so I ended up walking until way past midnight:
Then I finally got to a place that at least served food:
(lamb sticks, that is)
There I a guy who was from the government.
“Hey, come spend the night in the town hall!” he said, and he didn’t look like he was prepared to take no for an answer.
Of course I tried to stay out of this – after all, the thing I wanted least was to cause any trouble… but what else could I do?