Saturday, August 05, 2006

Malcolm & Tibetan Antelopes - Part 2

In this 2nd part of Malcolm Au’ story of his visit to the Arijin Mountains, Xinjiang from 19 June to 7 July 2006 in search of the Tibetan antelopes, he tells us how this once-in-a-lifetime trip has turned out to be a reflective journey of his own life. Part 1 can be found here.

On our way back from the Arijin Mountains, which is just north of the Kun Lun Mountains and Ke Ke Xi Li in Tibet, we ran into big snow storm late in the evening so we had to abandon our original plans to proceed further, and could only stay in a truck stop on the way. I don’t need to remind you that even the best of truck stops are a far cry from a Four Seasons Hotel – let’s not even mention the ones in the poorest part of China.

The stop is actually a long make-shift tent .There are two rows of single beds parked along each side of the tent with a dining table between the beds to provide the ultimate convenience in case someone would like to quickly doze off after a meal. They jokingly called each bed a standard room and I was fortunate enough to get a single room all by myself. The unfortunate ones had to double up on a bed. The cost per single bed is an affordable rmb 10 per night. There were around twenty people, mostly truck drivers, staying in the tent with us. If you were to add up the total number of days that all the people staying in the tent had to go without shower, the number could easily exceed a year. This resulted in a particular lingering aroma which is unique, not too pleasant and not easily forgettable. Noise pollution is another problem. I should have recorded the snoring in the middle of the night for inspiration in case I decide to become a musician later in life. To prevent my sleeping bag from being plagued by fleas or other undesirable small creatures, I did not open it and instead chose to sleep with my full gear on, including shoes and hat. In the middle of the night I was so cold that I could not resist covering myself with the blanket provided. I don't want to know when the blanket was last washed, but it did serve its purpose of keeping me warm. There was a tiny coal-burning stove in the tent that was on most of the night, and I am sure that during the night, I have taken in sufficient carbon monoxide to satisfy my life time quota. All and all, that was not an experience that one longs to savor and to repeat. My only regret was, since I was too indulged in myself getting some rest, I didn’t think of talking to some of the truck drivers to find out the many stories of their lives underneath those weather beaten faces and weary eyes.

I am proud of the fact that I survived. I slept very well that night. I was a lot happier about myself. I felt very blessed and loved. I have a happy family. I can enjoy many good things life has to offer and I can use my energy, network, knowledge and money to do the things I love. I am not looking for happiness, I am happy…… for the time being. I am also happy because I got my wish and took a picture with a day old Tibetan Antelope in my arms. I will be happy to
show you.

For a full set of photos accompanying this article, please click here.


Blogger Ho Kit May 何潔美 said...

Hi Malcolm:
This is a good story. How about a journal from your Africn trip? Any neat pictures?

12:40 AM  
Blogger Kwong Hoi Chau Martin 鄺海疇 said...

To see Malcolm's African trip pictures, please go to the post "Mara Crossing" of 8 Sept.

11:18 PM  

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