Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.
Episode 8: Urumqi, Censorship and Horror
Alright sexy boys,
This is going to be a shocking article. First, let's get back on tracks :
I started the trip 1st of July 2009 and at this point of the report its been more than one month and a half on the road. Incredible China, amazing travel, gorgeous sights.
I am now in Western China and I am entering the Xinjiang Province, the largest of all Chinese province: 1.6 million km².
Xinjiang borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region. It is dry and dusty, hot and sandy (and must be extremely cold in the winter).
I am now alone on the motorcycle, a Yamaha XT250X, a prototype for the Japanese market (does not exist in Europe or North-America).
As soon as I entered Xinjiang province, things were smelling bad:
- I could not make any calls with my phone, it seemed like they were blocked.
- I then tried to use Internet in the first city I crossed, Internet was blocked. Yes, the WHOLE internet access to Xinjiang was closed by the Chinese government.
Think about all the companies there, all the World of Warcraft addicts, how could they possibly survive ? It was going to be bankrupt for the firsts and obligation to get a social life for the WoW addicts.
More seriously, there was huge riots of the Uyghur minority. I will not get into details and will let you get your own information about that if you are interested.
Some estimations speak of hundred of dead people (Han and Uyghur), other of thousands.
So, I reached the city of Urumqi.
Wikipedia time :
"With an urban population of over 2.5 million people, Ürümqi, whose name means "beautiful pasture" in the Mongolian language of the Dzungar people, is the largest city in China's western interior."
"Ürümqi has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world. It is about 1,400 miles (2,500 km) from the nearest coastline as Ürümqi is the closest major city to the Eurasian pole of inaccessibility"
And these were wrong times to be there, army checkpoints everywhere, people scared, windows shattered.
I saw videos filmed by local people, scenes of murder. Cruelty and anger were at peak level. Han Chinese (the "normal" Chinese person as you imagine it, is a Han) and Uyghur Chinese (people from the Uyghur minority) were killing each other with sticks, bricks, axes, list goes on...
Feelings of hate and revenge were flooding the city, Han were attacking Uyghur parts of the city as revenge of first murders by some Uyghur, Uyghur were also making raids, etc.
I am not going to get on any side of this.
My personal opinion is that the 2 ethnies were put in situations where this was bound to happen by government decisions. The big responsible for me is the Chinese government (I hope that the forum is not hosted on any chinese server).
Here are some videos, just to show you the kind of horror that hapenned there :
As you obviously remember, my camera was drowned in Episode 4 – Floods, Vultures and Tibetans. I was using the one of my Chinese friend Leo, who was riding with me on the back of the Yamaha but before entering Xinjiang he went an other way, traveling on his own and getting back home.
So I did not have any camera for this part of the trip. I bought a new one in Urumqi, so you will have pictures for the next article.
For the next article, I will be reaching the border between China and Kazakhstan. Vehicles with Chinese plates are not supposed to leave China, learn how I did it in the next article.
Next episode: Episode 9 - Going from one world to another one. Leaving China and entering Kazakhstan.
Writing from the City of Light, Paris.
8th of July 2011.