My next destination was Lake Kanas (喀纳斯湖), in the very north of Xinjiang, next to the boarders to Russia (50km), Mongolia (55km) and Kazakhstan (20km). The Lake is pretty far away from Ürümqi so I decided to make a stop in Buerjin, sleep there for one night and take the first bus to Lake Kanas the next morning.
The night bus ride to Buerjin (布尔津) was so nice! I took a sleeper bus from Ürümqi to Buerjin, had a bed in the very front and it was hard to close the eyes due to the fact that the sunset was so beautiful to observe! I had a really good sleep in the bus and when I woke up the next morning, I witnessed the sunrise in the Jungar-Basin desert, saw dozens of camels, horses and sheeps, it was so beautiful!
As soon as I arrived in Buerjin, I recognized that I forgot my shoes in Ürümqi! How’s that possible?! Well, I just chose Flip Flops to take the bus and didn’t remember to also pack my shoes in the bag, when I left the hostel in Ürümqi. Fine, some new shoes are due anyway, so I had a task for today: buy some new shoes. Buerjin doesn’t offer plenty of activities anyway so why not go shopping. Here’s the result:
It’s not that easy to find shoes in my size in China (European size 45) but I was successful and found some satisfying models at the third store I visited.
After being the proud owner of shoes, I decided to have some lunch. I found a restaurant and met really nice guys. One Han Chinese, one Hui Chinese. They insisted on paying the full meal for me and invited me for a beer. I tried my best to pay the bill but they were very familiar with the boss so in the end I had no chance.
In the afternoon I went to the very south of Buerjin, to the Erqis River, because my travel book told me to do so. The river flows eventually into the arctic Ocean. The only major river in China to do so. Well as soon as I arrived there, I found out that there was actually nothing to see besides some tombs.
I decided to go back to the hostel via tried hitch hiking. Very soon a guy from Henan Province stopped and took me back and we even found out we were neighbors! He lives right next to my hostel. We had a great talk in the car and thus I asked for a selfie. Like a real Chinese.
Buerjin is maybe the place where the most people took photos with me, so far. I guess it’s a city (60,000 inhabitants) where not too many foreigners stop by, since there’s nothing much to see. Thus it was also really hard to find a hostel that could host foreigners. The town’s population is mainly Kazakh, but there are also Russians, Han, Uighurs and Tuvans.
The friendly guy from Henan Province recommended me to go to the night market. Specializing in grilled fish and fresh yogurt, this riverside night market makes for very atmospheric dining.
Buerjin was the place where I first really realized, that I’m so far in the west. I was texting with a friend who was in Xi’an and the heaven in Xi’an was so dark while the heaven over Buerjin was still super bright at 10pm.
The next morning I took a bus to Lake Kanas. It took 4.5 hours for only 160km, which proves that the roads in northern Xinjiang are not the best.
The bus ride was interesting again, since two highly armed persons checked my (and ONLY my) passport, asked thousands of questions about my occupation, which hotel I stay, how long I stay, what’s my underwears color and so on..
The Kanas Lake is a long finger of water nestled in the southernmost reaches of the sibirian taiga ecosystem. Most of the local inhabitants are Kazakh or Tuvan.
Arriving at the Lake Kanas, I recognized it’s super cold up high in the mountains of subsibiria. I immediately catched a cold and rested for a full day in and around the hotel and drank tea.
It was hard to stay home all day in such a beautiful area, so the second day I went out for a hike. I went to the area south of the lake and followed the river several kilometers. The views were very nice!
I even saw some wild cows
These carvings were also very impressive. The early nomadic people carved them into the stone.
The next morning, my roommate woke me up at 5.30 o’clock in the morning in order to show me the dawn in the mountains. The air was so fresh and pure, really nice.
I decided to take a walk at the east side of the Lake Kanasi.
I met some people there and we walked together for some hours. It was great fun.
We split later, because they wanted to go back to their hotel while I felt like keep going, climb a little bit higher. I saw the mountains that I wanted to conquer the next day:
Afterwards I took a rest at the lake and watched the sunset.
As I already indicated, the sunset in Xinjiang is pretty late, so there was absolutely no bus shuttle bus back to the hotel after the sunset.
So I needed to take the walk back, about 8km. It was getting really cold and I had difficulties finding the way..
I walked for 5 kilometers when suddenly a motorbike with two Mongolians passed by. I stopped them and asked them whether they would take me with them far as possible and they agree. And guess what. They lived right next to my hotel.. Again… They even taught me some Mongolian. Hello sounds pretty close to the Chinese word for 360 (sanbailiu), so that’s why I still remember it!
The next day, I decided to leave and the only bus back to Buerjin left at 3pm. I already told you that I wanted to climb up the mountain in order to see the lake from above, so I hab to hurry, since I woke up pretty late!
I was rushing uphill and was totally exhausted when I arrived uphill!
It is said that you can see Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan from here.
The rush was totally worth the awesome view! But I miscalculated and I was about to miss the bus. When on the way back downhill, a police car passed by. I asked whether they want to take me downhill and the nice Kazakh police officer agreed. To my big surprise, there were already two other visitors in the balcony of the police car who seemed to have the same request.
The first bus was 50 RMB and I needed to transfer at Jiadengyu on order to get to Buerjin. The ticket woman at the first bus station still remembered me because we took photos together and she taught me some Kazhak phrases. I was about to pay the 50RMB for the bus ride but she denying lying said:”friends don’t need to pay.”
Thank you dear Kazhak friend!