Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blog 7: Urumqi

Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is made up mostly of the Muslim Uygur people-The Uygur Minority, who dominate this region control this area making it VERY different from the rest of China. It's more central Asia in it's vibe and it's people. It's pretty "Borat" around here. Our van from the airport had NO BRAKES!!! I mean NONE. We had about five near misses...REALLY near! The driver kept having to slam it into reverse to try to stop at red light intersections. Then we broke down completely. I was waiting for them to hook a donkey up to the van and pull us to the hotel, but our Rigar guide heard our pleas and called a couple of cabs. We got to the hotel, but before we could unload, one of the drivers took off with my suitcase! I guess the guy didn't realize we were running video tape and got his license. About four hours later, the same driver returned the suitcase (after having looked through it and finding only clothes) looking for a commendation for his "honesty".

BTW, apparently they think air conditioning means cooling down a room to a chill 85 degrees...but we're beginning to get used to the heat.

Here at the edge of the earth I just met a dentist from Oregon traveling with his two young daughters...central Asia and the Silk Road. He sticks out a bit from the locals...Lacost golf shirt and all. I really hope I don't read about him in the news, but I fear for their safety. Personally, I wear my late father's scowl well and people don't mess. Funny...protected by my father's scowl.

Went out to hear some Uygur music. It's very middle eastern / arabic sounding...indistinguishable, really, to my ears and fairly useless to me for this installment of Survivor. Perhaps one day we'll try a middle eastern or central asian Survivor again, but for now, the instruments just don't we're goin' fishing!


Well that wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it was nice to actually cast a fly rod on water...steaming from the power plant it cools. We didn't actually catch anything, but I pissed off a few bass-like specimens - pulling my fly out of their oversized mouths! You should have seen Denis' fishing outfit...I'll try to get him to let me post it. Think khaki lederhosen.

We met this Japanese American guy named Hiro who owns a bar near the hotel called FUBAR. We're going over there for dinner.

Tomorrow I record some Ethnic Uygur instruments for my archives.



bluedamsel said...

Lovin' the blog, Russ.

Any chance you can make the little thumbnail photos clickable to a larger version?

Regarding Uygur music :

A Chinese friend said, "I was taught that, most of the Chinese stringed instruments were from that side of the land. The word Hu(when the water part of the word isn't present, when it's used in naming Chinese instrument) actually means Barbarians. All foreigners were barbarians to ancient Chinese. (You say "talking Greek, we say talking HU!) All things of, from barbarians were dabbed, "capped" with the word Hu.

The Chinese violin-like instrument came from the barbarians through the Silk Road supposedly. Somehow they just named it Hu Chin. (Chin means instruments with strings.) Er is the number two. It's called ErHu because there's one that plays much higher called KaoHu, ther Higher HU.

I'm surprised that no one around there mentioned that fact to Landau. He would have stood in attention by the side of the Silk Road, acknowledge and marvel at the role it played in the history of Chinese Music!"

Dr Bell said...

Hello Russ;

It was a pleasure meeting you on those two different occassions in Urumqi. My daughters and I did travel on into Uzbekistan. It was an incredible journey, an experience we will never forget. Just to let you know, we made it home safe, sound and very tired. I was surprised to see us in your blog. Good luck with your show.

From Portland, OR
Sincerely, Michael Bell

Brad Pit said...

Generally I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it ! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice post.
Yacht Crew