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Mike's China


The Tien Shan are accessible from Urumqi and fleets of buses take tourists
on day trips. You can join the crowds and travel on cable cars to scenic
valleys with lakes and Chinese temples or you can wander down county lanes
and explore Kazakh villages.
Many ethnic Kazakhs live in the Tien Shan. Some still lead a nomadic life,
taking their flocks into the mountain pastures in spring and returning to the
valleys in late autumn. The government has established winter campsites for
them along the main roads. The sites are equipped with modern facilities and
widely used.
The herds people still live in yurts, similar to those of the Mongolians to the
north. These highly functional, demountable dwellings may be likened to
huge baskets covered in watertight materials and insulated inside. In the past
they were transported by ponies. Today, lorries are used. The yurts are
snug, warm and fitted out with the essentials of modern living, including
television sets.
It is a mistake to think of the herds people as poor. Some are but many
families are prosperous. In a sense they are like ranchers who move around
with their animals. Some have large herds and own property in the city.
Many Kazakhs live in Urumqi and work in offices and factories. In the
weekends some like to head for the hills and live like grandma o nce did. A
thriving industry has developed to cater for them. It supplies on-site yurts
equipped with modern toilets, running water and electricity. Grandma would
be envious.
I met one young entrepreneur and his mum (photo). The guy is well over
six foot tall and towers over his diminutive mother. He speaks Kazakh,
Mandarin, English and German. He translated for his proud mum who told us
that she had been born in a yurt. Her son was born in hospital and attended
school in Urumqi. In the space of five years he established a thriving yurt
business and plans to buy a small bus for guided tours . There's a lot of
business acumen in China and it's not confined to the Han Chinese.
15 Kashi
Kashi (also known as Kashgar) is where the northern and southern
branches of the Silk Road come back together after they have skirted
 
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