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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:

Uncle Shen

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:

reaching the White Pagoda Temple

The White Pagods.

This place was definitely worth the visit, simply because it was so pretty:

White Pagodas of Wuwei

These are all brand-spanking new pagodas though, the only real relic is this one:

original White Pagoda

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:

red window

…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:

lights off

Then I finally got to a place that at least served food:

night snack

(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?

  • ataraxia

    hmm, bad bureaucrats…
    were you drunk? the other day a German student in my class got drunk…he just took a few bottles of *Chinese* beer…his last comment before he lost thoughts was Chinese beer is too strong…


  • Barry

    Mein lieber Herr Gesangsverein, Was für eine Ochsentour.
    Aber sonst wärst Du nie zu den genialen Bildern gekommen. Also 7-10 find ich den absoluten Hammer. Und Dein Kamera natürlich auch. Selbst die Sterne kann man noch erkennen. Einfach Klasse.
    Und um 7:30 begann wahrscheinlich wieder der Publokumsverkehr und die Nachtruhe war rum :-).


  • Martin T.

    Ich würd`sagen: Der Tag der Tage! Oder?


  • Marc

    Hey christoph,

    super Nachbilder. ganz stark 🙂

    Darf ich einen Bilderwunsch äußern? Wenn du mal wieder nachts draußen bist, kannst du mal eine Aufnahme der Milchstraße machen? Das wäre toll!

    Ich hab auch mal nachgeschaut, wann die ISS bei dir in nächster Zeit so vorbeifliegt. Leider fliegt sie im Moment nur tagsüber vorbei, da sieht man sie leider nicht 🙁 Nachts ist das echt ein Spektakel. Man kann mit dem Fernglas sogar Umrisse erkennen. Falls dich sowas interessiert, sag ich dir gern mal bescheid, wenn du sie nachts sehen kannst.


  • Christian

    Denke auch, die Bilder sind spitze geworden. Falls du noch nicht darüber nachgedacht haben, solltest du jetzt schon mal an eine Ausstellung denken!


  • andy

    Übersetzung der Traktorbeschriftung:
    "Kleiner Roter Traktor – ist überall bekannt-
    mit mit Chris am Lenkrad – zieht er übers Land-
    er ist kein Riese – aber mutig stets-
    Kleiner Roter Traktor- Los geht's!!!"
    (kennt das jemand??? ;o), eher wohl kaum…)


  • andy

    Bild 3 erinnert mich stark an Prambanan auf Java- nicht der Baustil, sondern die imposante Vielzahl der Pagoden!, wie Giraffen in der Savanne! Starkes Bild mit dem “Rahmen”!!
    Viele Grüße von


  • Christoph

    ataraxia: Haha, I don't drink!
    Barry: Ja, die Nachtbilder haben Spaß gemacht, auch wenn ich so fertig war…
    Martin T.: Och, meinst?
    Marc: Weiß nich, ob ich so was hinkriege, vielleicht mal aus Zufall!
    Christian: Genau, am besten ne Ausstellung nur über meinen Bart!!
    andy: Haha, kann wirklich gar niemand arabische Zeichen lesen oder was? Naja, solange wir Dichter und Sänger hier haben… 🙂


  • ataraxia

    good, i don't drink either…
    BTW: I don't know why the google map on the site is in German now…i remember it was once in English


  • Florian

    Ich find ja die Farben der nächtlichen Bilder herausragend!
    – andy: Netter Reim!


  • Florian

    Ansonsten interessante Tour! Hatte mich eh schon gewundert, wie glatt das immer lief: Morgens in den Tag losmarschieren, und dann einfach rechtzeitig eine Unterkunft für die Nacht gefunden. Da wundert es mich wenig, wenn jetzt mal ein Tag dabei ist, an dem es nicht so lief. Nun gut, der nächste Marsch wird sicher wieder entspannter. Gibt es denn eigenltlich Zeit- und Streckentechnisch mal eine Vorabrechnung bzw. Zwischenbilanz, ob das anvisierte Zeitkontingent von 2 Jahren ausreichen wird? – Guten Weitermarsch!


  • Christoph

    ataraxia: Which map – the "where I am" thing? Or the little one within the blog?
    Florian: Bin lahm, aus 2 wird 3! 😉


  • Björn T.

    Impressive white pagoda!

    Lovely nighttime pictures 🙂

    On pictures 8-10 many streetlights were turned off at night and a lot of the night sky is visible (perhaps good for conserving energy too). On picture 10 you caught a image of the southern milky way region in the constellations Sagittarius ans Scorpius, next to the "teapot" shape of Sagittarius in the lower left the planet Jupiter is visible also.


  • Christoph

    Björn T.: Wow, I really never knew about all these things! Just how do you remember how to tell all the little white dots apart from each other?


  • Björn T.

    I once became interested in amateur astronomy, did some night sky observing with simple equipment (nothing really fancy, just the naked eye and binoculars). A night sky 3D software like Stellarium helps much to keep track of planet or moon positions: http://www.stellarium.org/

    The dry desert or steppe regions were you are now and for a longer period will offer excellent night sky conditions as soon as you are away from bright city lights (or if lights are off at night).


  • Vasco Carto

    you know, something I find curious about your posts is… there you are in the middle of Tibet, walking, with a long beard with Public Enemy blasting in your years…

    I can imagine the people you pass by if they can hear a bit of the music you’re listening during the walk. 🙂



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