Wednesday, August 13, 2008

True blue

Tourist locations are perennially sprucing up their image, using Photoshop to often comical, outrageous affect. We’ve all seen it before. The murky, rough English Channel transformed into an azure, flat Caribbean paradise on postcards for sale near Dover or tourist brochures extolling the stunning blue skies of Beijing.
So it was with some apprehension that I unfolded a tourist map of Xinjiang nine days ago to see where I was heading from the provincial capital Urumqi. There way up in the far north, on the border of Russia and Mongolia, was an image of Lake Kanas (sometimes written Hanas). The picture was of a piece of stunning chalky turquoise water. Simply unbelievable.
36 hours and another 1,200 kilometres later though I got to see that this was no figment of an imaginative tourist board’s mind. Measuring 24 kilometres long and up to 188 metres deep this huge domestic tourist draw set in a gorgeous, gigantic Alpine valley, just two valleys away from desert, has a mythical creature in it like Loch Ness in Scotland.
Eagles soar, nomads roam, and for the brief three months of the year that constitutes summer the Chinese mob this spectacular location. However, walk for five miles and you’ll have the place to yourself, everyone else contents themselves with taking a high speed boat to tour the area. Go there!

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