While I lived in Harbin, Heilongjiang in the late 1980s, I had always heard about Urumqi in the western part of China. Northeast China is a LOOOOnnnggg ways away. Just compare the distance of East Coast of the U.S. with the West Coast. I lived closer to Urumqi while I lived in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana. Missed my chance to see what used to be considered Uyghurstan or whatever spelling you choose for an ethnic group that was Muslim and did not look Oriental. I remember when I was visiting in Shanghai or Guangzhou, we would be bombarded outside of our hotel with “change money, change money…” by the Uyghurs. I wonder if they still do that or if they have become more sophisticated in making money off of the clueless foreigners.
Anyway, I know friends of mine who did cross the Kazakhstan border into China and it was an arduous task. Long waits and no service mentality to come to the aid of hapless travelers who didn’t know what they were in for except an adventure to China. I’m including a map of Kazakhstan and China’s border from a Chinese perspective. I would like to know more about this region of the world. I’ve suggested many times to my husband that we could always go to Mongolia to teach, another place I’d like to visit. We shall see. For now, maybe I should just rent out the movie “Close to Eden.” Besides wonderful cinematography, it shows a clash of Chinese and Mongolian and Russian cultures all in one mix.
I’m also wondering about human trafficking between the borders of China and Kazakhstan (or Kyrgyzstan for that matter), how easy is it to cross illegally over the Tien Shan mountains? I need to find someone who knows the geography of this little known area in Central Asia. Of course, the traffickers know where the leaky places are and perhaps they have also greased the palms of those who are in charge of law enforcement at the borders. So much corruption on both sides, too many victims will sadly fall prey to the traffickers deceitful lies.