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  4. THU | En route from Beijing to Islamabad,I saw the real Xinjiang

THU | En route from Beijing to Islamabad,I saw the real Xinjiang

Views:755 Time:12/10/2021 12:00:00 AM


third-year postgraduate student at Tsinghua University's School of Materials Science and Engineeringis something of an adventurer, always stepping outside his comfort zone and doing things that inspire others to dream big. 

In 2018, he, with a friend, set out on a 28-day motorcycle road trip from Beijing all the way to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. 

The trip, which covered a distance of around 6,000 kilometers, took them past the picturesque rolling grasslands in Inner Mongoliathe vast sandy expanse of the Gobi Desert in Gansu, and the lush green mountains and deep blue lakes in Xinjiang. 

They also rode their bikes through rural areas and cities, stopping in between, interacting with people they came across, and trying out local food. 

Following a day-long ride, they would put up their tents alongside mountains and rivers and settle down for the night only to wake up the next morning to ride further.

From Kashgar, the bordering city in Xinjiang which was an important trading center on the ancient Silk Road, they made their way through the winding Karakoram Highway, also known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway, to Islamabad. One of the world's highest paved roads, the highway arguably offers some of the most spectacular views of snow-capped mountain peaks and rugged mountainous terrain.

Exciting as the trip was, it also came with its own set of challenges. Riding a bike under the scorching sun through the desert for hours with no signs of life was no easy task for the two friends. Also, the lack of good foods at times would make them question their decision to go on a road trip. But then again, they would cheer each other up and keep going.  

Harood still remembers with pleasure how a random local biker in Xinjiang approached them with a friendly greeting while they were waiting at a road interaction for the traffic light to turn green, at whose house they would eventually end up staying for a night. He says he was moved by the biker's hospitality. 

Before going to Xinjiang, he had noticed some foreign media reports that claimed some kind of genocide happening there, but he found the region nothing like it was described in those reports. 

He says there were security checkpoints in places, but they were for the region’s safety, and he didn’t see anyone crying in Xinjiang. The officials he met were accommodating, and no one ever checked his belongings or tried to stop him while he was on the road. The Muslims living there were willing to share their happy lives with them and were looking forward to welcoming more foreign tourists so that they could see the true Xinjiang for themselves, he says.  

Harood has gathered many valuable and memorable experiences during his time in China. 

He joined as a volunteer in 2020 for the official website of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. He, likewise, worked to correct the spelling and grammatical mistakes on the public display signs at different Olympics venues. He says the motto of the Winter Games 2022, “Together for a Shared Future,” has inspired him to live up to the ideals of the motto. 

Looking forward, Harood, who is impressed by the development and progress in China, wants to bring back the knowledge he has learned in China to help develop his country, Pakistan.

Source: Tsinghua University & Beijing Review