Ever heard of Karakul – the “black lake” in the Pamir Mountains?
We figured we were pretty close to it, so we hopped into a cab, stopped to buy some food and got on our way:
It was about 200 km down Southwest on the Karakorum Highway:
We passed red rocks:
…and a checkpoint of the border patrol:
Then we arrived at a lake:
But it wasn’t the black lake. It was the White Sand Lake 白沙湖:
We decided to take goofy pictures of ourselves:
…while other people were super serious and super busy taking pictures:
Then we got back into the cab.
Our driver, a Uyghur dude called Nejad (“you know, like Ahmadinejad”) wasn’t very fluent in Chinese, but he was very good at driving, and he sure as hell liked to tell stories:
He told us stories about the mountains:
…about the Kirgiz mountain folks:
…about their yaks:
…about the construction crews who had come here from the interior provinces, mostly from Sichuan:
…and most of all about the dangers of driving on these roads:
People kept dying out here every month, either by falling into the river or by getting crushed by rocks. I think that’s what he said.
All the while, we kept honking like crazy:
It took us a while to figure out that the green button was the horn.
Then we reached the lake:
There were hardly any people around. Just a few Kirgiz who were either herding yaks or operating yurts for us tourists to stay in:
Oh, and there was a small group of Germans who kept saying things like
“have you been to Pakistan/Tibet/Nepal?”
“do you have any idea how much more interesting China used to be in the eighties?”
“why are there so many tourists everywhere?”
We were reminded of two French travelers whom we had run into a while ago in Ürümqi. They had strongly advised us not to visit a certain attraction because it was apparently too “disney” – and because there were too many Chinese tourists there. We had smiled politely, thinking to ourselves: seriously, too many Chinese tourists in China? WTF??
“why do you put up your tripod so close to the edge of the rock?” the Germans kept asking.
We told them that we didn’t plan on going to any other countries, that in fact we were intending to travel everywhere by plane, and that we regretted that this particular lake didn’t have an airport or at least a runway.
And that we didn’t give a fuck about cameras.
They eventually left, taking their advice with them.
And we had the place to ourselves:
Some yaks were having fun at the shore:
And we were having fun taking pictures of clouds, while the sky was playing with the mountains, while the lake became ruffled and then calm again.
A lot of what we were doing was just standing there, waiting around:
Here is the footage from the lake:
We both agreed that it had been a perfect day.
Even without an airfield.