i'd trade our food here for their's

tibetans have never been know for their culinary prowess. to be honest tibetan fare is far too fair. boiled mutton, tsampa (barley dough), butter, milk and butter tea, yogurt, dumplings, tintu (noodle soup) and some yak of course. that is really the extent of it. needless to say, these items get a little boring after a while. although i must say the tibetan dumplings are the best i've ever eaten.

now, it's a different story out in kashgar. rice pilaf, roasted pidgin, roasted chicken, kebabs of every kind, fresh melons by the slice, figs, dates, dried fruit by the ton, quality wine produced locally, local dark beer, high altitude fish (from glacial lakes above 20,000 ft), nan bread, laghman noodles, and the most surprising of all, tortellini. that is just the uyghur food. there was also pakistani food--think indian--to sate the pallet. for me it was a gastronomic extravaganza.

i guess the desert is the place to be for foods. i truly had some of the most enjoyable meals i've ever eaten in xinjiang, especially the roasted pidgin. i mean, come on, how can a place that claims to have taught the italians how to make pasta, tortellini, and pizza not have good food. like i said, i would trade qinghai food for xinjiang food in a second.


dance the night away

so, i guess i must apologize for failing to fulfill my promise to post a new update everyday. as many of you know i have been ill the last 3 days. it seems i have giardia for the third time.

anyway, on to better things. the night of sept. 19th will stand as one of the highlights of all my travels, along with diving pulah weh in sumatra, hiking the west coast trail on vancouver island, and the people and beauty of all tibetan areas.

there was such an energy in that little house. i was joined by more than 20 tajiks to eat and dance. the food was more or less unextrodinary, but after eating the dancing began. before i started dancing with the men the mood in the house remained indifferent. but after, my goodness, after was a different story. up i jumped to dance, with an incredible amount of expectation that i would look ridiculous. i first danced with one of the brothers, who all looked like adrian brodie. around and around we danced in circles. i must have looked like a a fool to the onlookers, but i must have been an endearing fool, as the crowd cheered and clapped. later i danced with another brother, but this time i began to understand the dance moves. i began to anticipate his moves and keep up with them. hoots and hollers began to drift into my ears. as my focus moved from intense concentration on copying the dance moves to the experience and people i was among, i was overcome with pleasure. my like for dancing had paid off with admirable tajik dancing abilities, though it was much harder and more intricate than it first appeared.

as i sat down to catch my breath the patriarch of the family came and sat down next to me. an 80 year-old grandfather, with the most prominent of his family's nose, who was loved by all his grandchildren. he sat beside me and leaned over, putting his hand upon my thigh and resting his weight upon my shoulder. i was in awe of this. here is a man of stature and maturity, who i'd only just met, and elder of regard, and he bestowed upon me honor and respect through this action. all boundaries of culture, stature, age and belief were torn asunder by this mans gentle display. it honored and humbled me greatly. after that i decided that i absolutely must have my picture taken with him and dance with him. i did both. dancing with him was more difficult than with his sons because he danced differently. but what an honor it was. after half or so of the song he turned to me with folded arms and bowed. each of the brother had done the same, but what a blessing to dance and bow to the patriarch of the family.

other than a few more pictures this was the end of the night. what a night! one to remember and cherish forever. a gift from above. you cannot make these things happen. we went from being strangers, even more than strangers we were a part of a business transaction, buying and selling a cultural experience. but by the end of the night we had hurdled many boundaries to become friends. i will never see those men again, but i will always remember them. even more so, i will always remember their actions and how they drew me into their inner circle with gentle and honest touches and glances.


pic's from my trip into xinjiang

the muztagh ata mountain, at well over 23,000ft, as seen from the karakorum highway.
thisd mountain stood like a giant above the valley. nearby stands a taller kongur mountain, at 24,000 ft, but it was shrouded in clouds.

muztagh ata again, with yurts in forground.

a kyrgyz man selling jewelry along the karakorum highway.

spices, etc. at the kashgar market.
among the bags are dried hedgehog skins and whole frogs.

a uyghur man viewing livestock at the sunday livestock market.

a girl playing among the sheep at the market. i just loved her expression.

a woodworker in kashgar. like his products, to me
his face looks like it was carved out with awls and knives.

a boy at play in the streets of the old city in kashgar.

a young boy in the his family courtyard.

the tomb of aba hoja. it was beautiful with all of the colors
beginning to glow in the morning's first rays of light.

a closer view of the aba hoja tomb.


it's alive

that's right, i'm still alive and kickin, and my will be blog now that i have traded the backpack and weary eyes of train travel for a permanent home. i appologize to all you faithful readers--no scoffing, there might a handful--but now i am back and promise a new update everyday for the next 5 days. tales, woes and pictures galore await you, just not today. after all, i only arrived yesterday from a 2000km train ride and moved into a new apartment today. patience grasshopper.


i know what i want for christmas

well, apple unveiled the long rumored touch screen ipod this week. and i want one. i think i first heard the rumors of such two or three years ago. i know they came out with that iphone, but who can afford it, and who wants an ipod with only 8gigs of memory. so, all you who want to buy me something for christmas, this is it, an ipod touch, with as much memory as possible. and as a bonus, who ever buys it for me can have my three year-old ipod in return. ha, that's a fair exchange.

on second thought. well, my dear brother has alerted me to my mistake, the iopd touch also only comes with 8 or 16 gigs. too small for me. i guess my mind added a zero behind that eight. too bad. i'll just wait till they get their act together and produce one with a nice size drive.


an ode to my family

i was just sitting and thinking this morning, and i started to think about my family. i didn't have to realize how great they are or anything like that, but i wanted to remind myself, and them, how much i love them and how i appreciate them.

i come from a family where my brother and i were taught to be fairly independent, thinking and acting for ourselves, and reaping the consequences for ourselves. so when i travel i travel i don't call home very often. in fact, i don't when i am in the states either. i feel fine leaving things for a while without worrying about the relationship. but that does not mean that i don't miss them, or that the connections are weak. i think the opposite, in fact. i love my mother, i love my father, and i love my brother deeply. just not always through a phone call.

i realize this is beginning to sound cheesy, but you can stop reading any time you like.

the more time i spend away from my family, the more important they become in my life, and the more i realize their influences. like has been said a million times before, i am who i am because of them. i like to think of myself, in a prideful way, as being self made. but that is not true. i don't know exactly what or how i learned from them, but i am my father's and my mother's son. you see me, you see them. good or bad. however, i have realized some things that i've learned from them. from my father i learned a perseverance to keep trying and to believe in the ability within you, even if it takes more tries than you would like. it's a stubbornness not to be defeated by an outcome. from my mother i learned a heart of compassion, to see deep but not to judge, and to value the weak things. and from my brother i have learned what it means to be forgiven by someone and then for that person to be a friend closer than a brother, regardless of how poorly i treated him when we were kids.

to the majority of you this may have little meaning. but i felt it important to honor those who acted as chisels and hammers, not to mention fine grain sandpaper, in making me the ryan you all know.

the end of an era

well, i have both great and sad news for you all. today i sold my long time car. that's right, you will no longer see the white yukon when you see me. thanks to my dad and my Dad for working out all the details while i am tramping the far east. it's sad because that was the only car i wanted when i got it back in 1998, and i loved driving it. it really was a beast of a vehicle. but it is great because just this morning i asked for His provision for the next few months, and here it is. i even got full asking price. also, now i can get that vespa when i return home. casey and i can start that scooter gang i've always talked about.