The second half of my travels with Sekine took us to the Magic Ghost City, a desolate point at the far western edge of Xinjiang's many expansive deserts. We camped out there in the dunes miles from civilization, built a gigantic bonfire, barbequed us some meat, and-- as it wasn't too cold-- I let Sekine take the tent, pushed my sleeping bag beside the dying embers of the fire, and slept beneath a sky of numberless stars. An excerpt from my diary:
I'm sitting on an nice ole' ledge looking out over the desert. Sekine, he's strolling around throwin' rocks into the air. The sun is just starting to think about settin', just as the clouds are getttin' ready to move on out of his way, and that's as it should be.
What do we got? I'm facing west, so I got the sun breaking through the clouds and catching two birds flying by, halfway betwee me and the green oasis strip that holds a highway and a city before giving way to more wasteland behind it.
To my left (that's south, mind you) we got the 魔鬼城, the ghost town, a bunch of pink crumbly rock formations and sandy canyons for the Chinese to film their Kung Fu flicks in. The desert scene in Crouching Tiger was shot here.
North, to my right, I ain't see nothing but rocky desert floor... some sand, but mostly rock, hard shale expansive mud of the ages, rippling with wind-carved trenches and expiring only with far-away mountains, blue with distance and dusk.
Behind me to the east, I'll have to check-- hold on a minute...
...yup, just as I suspected. More desert. Endless, unfathomably endless desert. Same as to the north, but no mountains on the horizon this time-- we're on the western edge of oblivion, facing-- what?-- hundreds if not a thousand miles of straight-out lonely canyon blues.
And here comes Seking stumbling back, still chucking rocks, just as the sun lands on my face for the first time all day.
Man, do I get lucky.
Dinner tonight: roast deer/donkey/horse meat with toasted Uighur bread, garnished with raisins, and finished off with an unlikely desert dessert of M+Ms and a full casaba melon that we hiked out here. As they say: "I rule!"
Lovin', lovin', lovin' it!