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May 23, 2005

Tian Chi (Heaven Lake) and Xian


Hey everyone-

This is Aimee. Just a little update & pix from 2 places (although this is about 2 weeks past). We're in Bangkok now and heading down to an island for relaxing. During that time we're going to work on some pix from Kashgar - a really cool place that we want to share. I'll also be posting something soon about our kick-ass Star Wars movie expereince in Bangkok. Until then, here's some stuff from Heaven Lake (Tian Chi) and Xian.

Heaven Lake (Tian Chi) lies at about 2000m in the far Western region of China. Its turquoise waters and grassy meadows are a far cry from the dusty desert and dirty cities in the area. The area is inhabited seasonally with Kazakh people, who are semi-nomadic and live in yurts on the lake and in the valleys. The people are beautiful - dark skin, light eyes. Many had features that reminded me of Tibeteans. Apparently many had not come back to this area yet (it's the end of the off season) so we literally had the whole area to ourselves. During the day we hiked through the valley with towering snow-capped mountains always in view. At night we stayed at a yurt on the lake (one of the only ones there at this time) with four other travelers.

The yurt itself and the whole cluster of them reminded me of something someone would make a burning man. The blankets used on the inside were bright colors and the outsides were often decorated with large stencils. Inside was a burning stove which kept us plenty warm. If any of you have ever rented a tent cabin in Big Basin you know what it's like to have too much heat. It turns into a sweat lodge of sorts where you're down to shorts and a tank despite it being cold outside. We slept well tho, a little too well. After oversleeping our 9am horse ride "appointment" (due to some late night drinking of cheap Chinese booze), we all eventually got out of bed about 12pm and rode the horses up some steep mountains to get some amazing views.

This place was one of my favorites in China. It was such a retreat from the pollution and the noise. Plus, I'm a huge fan of mountain areas like this not matter where in the world I am- spruce/pine trees, grassy meadows, the sound of the air when you're deep in a valley. Ahhhh….peaceful, happy. I'll take it anytime.

Check out the photos here:

We also have some photos of the Terracotta Army in Xian.  For those of you who aren't familiar with this here's a little info (courtesy of Nate): Discovered in only 1974(?), the Terracotta warriors are (self-)billed as the "8th wonder of the world". From about 200 BC, they are an ~8000-strong lifesize army of exact replica soldiers, in formation, that were designed to protect the tomb of their emperor (Qin - the same emperor as in the movie Hero). From the torso down they are from one of a few molds, but from the waist up they are all unique. Unique faces, unique hair styles and hats, custom real armor, and real weapons. Though their armor and weapons have deteriorated in the last 2000+ years (hilts, blades and arrow heads still exist), they originally were completely armed and ready for battle. There are regiments of archers, horsemen with lifesize horses, swordsmen, spearmen, sergeants, generals and all the others, exactly as they were in the flesh at the time. In fact, it's said that they're an exact replica of the actualarmy at the time, down to this faces and hair. Part of the story is that the 200,000 craftsmen who created this secret army to guard the secret tomb (both secret even at the time) were buried with the army so that the secret wouldn't get out. It took a farmer digging a well less than 30 years ago to discover them.

It's totally amazing to think about, but it doesn't really warrant a stop to Xian. Xian is a walled city which means that there's tons of people with no where to go. Although there were some interesting things, it was very crowded and dirty/polluted (just like any other city) so I didn't enjoy it much. This is partially attributed to me needing some country-time at this point tho so that my opinions with that in mind. Really tho, seeing the Terracotta Army in real life wasn't much more stimulating that the millions of pictures of them. You can see our contribution of photos at:

More to stuff coming soon. Really looking forward to beach, beer and Thai food. Smile. If anyone wants to join us, the hut door is open.

May 23, 2005 at 10:43 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Dec 9, 2005 4:56:30 PM


Fantastic photos and text. I want a yurt.
All sounds fab for you two. We love all your posts and am amazed how much reading them makes it seem like we're with you.

Love, Dad

Posted by: Bob Koechley | May 24, 2005 8:24:51 AM

Yeah, what Bob said.

Nate and Aimee, I just can't tell you how hopeful you guys make me feel. Many, many congrats on all your choices. Somehow, Heaven Lake especially. I'm so very appreciative for what I'm learning from your travels on a zillion levels!

Thank you friends.

Rick Terrien

Posted by: Rick Terrien | Jun 25, 2005 9:46:37 PM

Didn't get a chance to read everything but I read the blog on your moment in a temple with the monks and the photographers that came in and interrupted the moment....I'm into eastern philosophies, meditation and yoga, so I enjoyed reading that, those moments are very special, those moments of inner conection and peace, it makes the moment sacred :).

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thanks for sharing about it.

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