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Robbie Hey everybody!! This journal was set up to keep everyone up to date with my travels through China and Vietnam. I will be volunteering in China up in the north west part of the country in a city called Urumqi for 13 weeks, helping out (hopefully) with teaching english. I will then have some time in Beijing to explore the sights. I then move on to Vietnam to meet up with my mum for a few days in Ho Chi Minh then fly up to Hanoi to volunteer with a local volunteer agency SJ Vietnam for 10 weeks. Then I fly home just in time for my 21st birthday. This journal will keep you up to date with all my volunteering adventures!!

The Kashgar experience..

CHINA | Tuesday, 8 May 2007 | Views [4992] | Comments [7]

Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China.

Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China.

Hello everyone.  Thankyou for all the comforting words and all the news from home.  I am missing everyone, but I'm also having the best time, with some amazing experiences.

Wow, so its been a while since I last updated, sorry..  A lot has happened in the last week.  It started on saturday 28th April, I went on an excursion with the school to Urumqi's wild animal zoo.  I have never seen so many kids, so many buses, I felt sorry for whoever had to organise it, but I got to go along for free so I was very lucky.  It was my first time to go outside of the city, I now realise Urumqi is an island in the middle of the desert.  The zoo took about 1 1/2 hrs to get to.  It was huge and very open, you can get very close to the animals.  I was also a bit worried about going to the zoo, I wasn't sure what the conditions would be like, on the whole they were pretty good.  Some animals seemed a bit distressed, but a polar bear really doesn't belong in the desert :-(  It was great to see outside of the city and the day was really good, but most of the kids were to shy to talk to me, they were from the middle school where I stay not from the primary school.

The next day, Sunday I departed with my friend Aliya for Kashgar.  It was a 23hr train ride, its not like the ICE trains in Europe, more like Australia's country link service.  It was really comfortable though, we had sleeper beds and shared with two other people.  It was a very beautiful train ride through the mountains then into the flat desert, people lived out there in the middle of no where.  Arrival at Kashgars train station was a rush to get out of the gates, I suppose everyone was sick of being on the train. 

We stayed in Kashgar for 2 nights (monday and Tuesday) at Aliyas friends place, which was awsome because we didn't have to pay for accomodation.  We slept on the floor and you also eat on the floor (on mats).  The apartment had a squat toilet, but no shower (yes I was a little freaked out, but did not convey this to Aliya, you just have to go with the flow) it had running water though so you could wash your face.  For the week that I was away I faced a lot of fears and phobia's (but it was just a normal week for you megan) I only got to have one shower :-{  We had to pay for a shower in a communal shower room, I was quickly in and out....

This was all amazing though, I really got to experience Kashgar differently from the usual tourist, no comforts.  It was the best week of my life, to really see how lucky we are in Australia, to be able to drink water from the tap, to have space, our houses are huge.  When I come home I will get lost at home hehe...So in Kashgar everyone was so generous and helpful.  It was like you have gone to another country, the language changes to Uiger and the faces change, although captialism is slowly being leaked into the city and the beautiful old part of the city is slowly being demolished, China is really trying to turn all parts into the west.  We visited the big mosque (Id Kah) and the huge Bazarr, I got some really good bargains, I am getting better at bargaining.  The neighbour of the flat we stayed in also invited us in for lunch one day and showed us around Kashgar.  She took us to a dance club...Wow its not like at home, it was like stepping back in time, it was all formal dancing, I had no idea what was going on, but it was an experience.  From Kashgar on wednesday afternoon, we moved on to Aliya's family home, in the country.

The bus ride was ment to take 2hrs but it was very slow and the roads are not to good, so it took 4 hrs, very happy to get off :-)  The area was very poor, and very dry.  It was farm land, but in the desert, I don't know how things grow.  This really was a highlight to be invited to Aliya's home.  Her mum picked us up from the bus stop by donkey cart, the poor donkey had a heavy load to pull.  Aliya's family were so lovely and generous, for people who have so little, they fed and housed me for 3 nights.  Her dad even killed a sheep for us which made many meals, they cook the whole thing, even the head, which they told me is the best meat...They work so hard, and everything from cooking, to looking after the farm is a big job as they cook outside on a fire and they manually look after their crops (wheat and water melons).  I did get quite sick while I was there, lets just say things did not want to stay down, but they kept telling me to eat more you will feel better, I didn't want to be rude so I did, but it just came back up.  I felt so bad for the family they were so worried they had poisened me, but I reasured them I'm OK I'm OK.  Her dad even went into town and got me medicine.  It was such kindness, I was very touched.  By the way I feel fine, the next day we boarded another bus back to Urumqi (21 hrs), not quite as comfortable as the train, but you could lie down.

This trip really was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  The people and the culture was so beautufil and generous, I am so grateful to have met Aliya.  I really wanted to learn about the different cultures, the Uiger people are so different from the Chinese, in all aspects.  I am so happy that I came to Urumqi, I have really got to see another side of China not seen in the east of the country. 

I am now back at school, teaching.  Last night I had a real treat, from the farm life to the rich city life, I ate in a 5 star hotel, buffet all you can eat, steak, ice cream, cake.  So that's all the update for now.  I hope everyone is well back home.  Lots of love Katie XXXXXX

Tags: Adventures



Katie what an awesome experience- we are very proud of you

Love Mum and Dadxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  katie_rose May 9, 2007 7:37 AM


Hi Katie
Wow! You are certainly having some great experiences and its wonderful to read your journal. Take Care Love Jenny

  Jenny May 9, 2007 9:54 AM


Hi Katie
Glad you're enjoying the differences and able to write and share the experiences. I've also found the personal encounters are so special and the most memorable parts of it all. Hey, you used the word I was trying to remember
"Uiger", so you can teach me how to say it. Keep going w the flow - or without showers!
Cheers Lesley

  Lesley Bond May 9, 2007 10:20 AM


Wow Robbie!!!!!Your handling things really well,very proud your learning to get a sense of direction(hehehe)Missing you so much and wish i could visit XXXX Lots of love and hugs Megan
P.S.what flavour cakes did you get at the buffet????

  Megan May 9, 2007 1:50 PM


Hi kate, we have been reading all your stories and it makes us envious.You are having a wow of a time.
Rick , phuong and the baby arrived in sydney last sunday, they will come to our place this weekend. That's when we find out more about the job in vietnam. looking forward to read more about your adventures, love from uncle and aunt.

  uncle henry and aunt lesley May 25, 2007 7:17 AM


Hi Katie !!

Fortunately I saw you infront of the biggest mosque in China.So I can take that picture for my collection.Thanks Katie !! Have A nice trip to the next

Lovely Maqmur

  Maqmur Ahmin - Medan - Indonesia Dec 8, 2007 1:49 PM


Hi Katie!

Where did you volunteer? Please put me in touch with them, I am in Kashgar now, planning to stay in this province for another month.

email me!

  Annelisa Sep 22, 2013 10:54 PM



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