This post is the continuation of NanShan Montain Part I.
So after 3 days of being in the forest of this mountain, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and without contact with other humans but ourselves; we decided to go down to supply our bags with food and water. So we pack and head towards civilization.
Once at the foot of the mountain, we realize that it was Saturday, a day of picnics and family hikes. It is early in the morning, maybe around 9:00am. We see that there are many cars arriving and looking for a place to park and start having their fun. There are also horses with their owners whom offer walks and rides.
Many traditional campaign tents called “yurt” are open, welcoming the potential clients. Also there are many women who begin to cut and season the lamb meat with the intetion to attract the tourists to buy their succulent steak.
We go to a yurt where there is a woman that is preparing a few pieces of meat to make a few skewers. We ask for the prices of the food, but she tells us that this is only sold to groups of 4 people or more at a price of 500 RMB. We cannot accept it, but she kindly offers us traditional tea and and crackers of the region, apart from taking the time to explain to us the dynamics of the sales in the area. I.e., the client brings the meat to cook and rented the yurt with the grill, or the customer buys 500 RMB of meat, which is usually what is consumed by a family of 4.
We thank her for the information and undertake the march towards another site. It is a sunny day, with a clear and bright blue sky. We walk happy but hungry. The road is paved and is double track. Cars and horses pass by.
Suddenly a man in his late 50’s, strong in appearance and apparently of Kazakh descent approaches us and offers us a solidarity price for a good lunch. Its Kazakh accent when speaking Chinese makes it very difficult to understand him, but we get to hear the amount of 120 RMB for 2 kilos of meat made in the grill plus a soup.
The offer looks tempting, so we walk with him to his place. We are surprised to find three large yurts, clean and decorated in typical Kazakh way. The man made a phone call and asks us to wait. Soon after, he arrives with the leg of a lamb in hand. He cleans, cuts and season it by himself. Then thread the pieces on metal rods and prepare the grill for cooking. With the bones, fat and remaining meat, he assembles a pot with water and some species to make a soup.
When it comes to pay, we are surprised to see that the price has gone up to 240 RMB. We discuss a little with the man and at the end he explains that the charge is 120 RMB per kilo of meat and the leg of the lamb had 2 kilos. We feel deceived, but the meal was worth it.
Another family that has brought its own meat for cooking, plus a large salad and traditional bread; see our discontent , so they kindly serve us another plate full of meat and salad. We accept gratefully and of course, stop complaining .
Then, we undertake our journey in search of a new site where to camp.
The area is full of tourists, but we find a slope that seems challenging to climb. So we put our forces together and trace the steep until we finally reach the top of the hill.
There we accommodate ourselves and spend the afternoon taking a sun bath, chatting about our impressions and enjoying the sight and the visit of some curious children that come closer to say hello.
In the afternoon, around the 17 hours, when all the visitors retake their way back home and the mountain is now silent, we have a wonderful view.
Out of the visible wholes on the outskirts of the forest, small creatures looking like big rodents come out. They are marmots. Some very small, obviously calves that graze and eat slowly. Some larger ones, remain vigilant on the doors of the burrows and at the slightest movement of a strange entity, the bigger marmots begin to make sounds, like a very sharp scream or squeal. This is to alert the young eaters that they must return quickly to the burrow, because there is a danger nearby. What a natural spectacle! True natural beauty! especially for me that didn’t know these cute looking animals. Hanaffan takes the opportunity to professionally document these marmots behavior.
During the evening, many of the riders who work with the visitors, go to the top of our hill and remove the saddle from their horses making sure let them free in the area where in morning they expected to find them. The horses happily gallop to the forest.
At night we rejoice to see a spectacular sky covered with bright stars that give the impression that can be easily catch with the hand. Satellites and shooting stars stroll through the firmament.
Already at around 9:00 pm, we hear creatures, snorts and heavy steps near our tent. So close thatwe can feel the heat of the beast. They are curious cows coming to sniff us and see who we are. They make sure that we are not moving or a dangerous alien, then they accommodate themselves near the tent to rest. Another is thrown in a place a little more secluded. And thus in their pleasant company we fall asleep.
The next morning, we find large marks left by their big bodies in the fresh grassland.
Riders and cowboys go up to pick up their horses to work during the day. Many ask us if we have not seen this or that horse. Then, they enter into the forest calling their animals by their names, whistling or screaming in their language. It is definitely not easy to make them come back again!
We smile with a heart filled with joy for having had the opportunity to live this experience in the grasslands of the NanShan Mountain… Definitely, a place to come back!
Now, we go back to Urumqi to see our beloved friend Umit!