What kind of people love the wilderness? Why is it so desirable? For people who have lived in cities and modern civilization for a long time, the image of “wilderness” seems to have a natural attraction, representing freedom, danger, breaking free from shackles, and allowing us to stay away from modern civilization for a moment. Walk into the wilderness and seek a kind of beauty, natural, wild, and thrilling from the edge of the city.
Timely separation from urban civilization may also allow us to see more clearly the nature and relationship between ourselves and the outside world, and to come into contact with life that we have never experienced or never knew.
Writer, reporter. He graduated from the Chinese Department of Peking University and a visiting researcher at the Reuters Institute of Journalism, University of Oxford. Previously worked in “Southern People Weekly XGQ Zhizu”. His published works “Lost Satellite” “Arriving Before Midnight” “Along the Monsoon Direction”, won the Bookstore Literature Award. Travel Writing Award of the Year. Other translations include “The City of Surprise”, “The Flowing Feast”, “The Long Farewell” and so on.
Liu Zichao: Crossing the Pamirs
Oral: Liu Zichao Photography: Liu Zichao
After about thirty, travellers are more willing to choose places with few people. It didn’t take long for us to put on the cloak of civilization like a dog. I feel that human civilization is vulnerable to nature in the face of nature.
In the summer of 2018, I decided to go to the Pamirs. To the east from Langar, the mountains rise and the valleys are deep, and soon the real Pamirs are reached. This is a sparsely populated area that is frozen by snow and ice for months every year. Only some powerful Kyrgyz herdsmen drove their livestock and moved their families among the mountain pastures. I’m going to climb a mountain pass, through no man’s land, to Lake Brunkuri, and observe the most remote settlement on the Pamirs.
For this trip, I hired a Russian Jeep in Langar. The driver Bahorom was from Wakhan, not tall and thin. He had been educated for several years and went to work in Russia, and now he is idle. I persuaded him to send me to Blen Curry for a hundred dollars. After entering the mountain, climb up with the rugged mountain road. The Pamir River, another tributary of the Amu Darya, emerged from the crevices of the black mountains, and the road gradually turned into an indifferent trace. Rolling rocks can be seen everywhere on the hillside, there is almost no vegetation, and no people can be seen. The mountains on the other side of the valley are also desolate, and there is no vitality. Driving out of the gorge, you enter a flat plateau. The golden Pamir River was rolling not far away, and the banks were scattered with boulders, like eggs left by giants inadvertently. Otherwise, the world is as desolate as the surface of the moon. Looking around, I didn’t see any traces of human beings.
Later, I met a few British people on the road, they were going to cross the Wakhan Valley, and then along the Pamir Highway, all the way to Dushanbe. Bahorom couldn’t understand that kind of travel, let alone why some people traveled to the Pamirs and drove around in their cars. He must also think I’m crazy.
We passed by a lonely Kyrgyz tent and begged for a cup of tea. Bahorom said that the Kyrgyz people who live here are very poor and only have naan and hot tea for each meal. After drinking the tea, we thanked the host and continued on the road. After passing the Kargusz checkpoint at an altitude of 4,300 meters, and finally turning on the Pamir Highway, I suddenly felt that I was back in the civilized world.
Along the way, Bahorom suggested that I should go to Aliqiu, because Aliqiu is on the Pamir highway. It’s a wonderful place to eat and live there, but Brunculi has nothing. I make no compromises. We turned off the Pamir Highway, crossed the Aliqiuer Mountains in Vietnam, and plunged into the uninhabited land. Sure enough, as Bahorrom said, the road conditions were so bad that there was no road at all, and we were like driving on an eternal washboard. The little jeep jumped up and down, as if going crazy.
Arriving in Brunculi, an isolated dirt house appeared in front of him. This is the most remote settlement in the entire Pamirs, with winter temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees. I spent twenty dollars to live in a local guest house, “Niso House Accommodation”, whose surname is Niso. There are two plateau lakes nearby, namely Brunkuri Lake and the larger Yashkuri Lake. I want to visit Yashkuri Lake, but I can’t get to the lake. The dry yellow thatch was gradually cut apart by many small swamps, and the ankle was gone as soon as one stepped on it.
After days, the temperature dropped sharply. There is no dust in the atmosphere at high altitudes, and the air is fresh and transparent. The sky is like a curtain full of pushpins, like another piece of lights billions of light years away.
Nisso said that her husband had a small bread and could take me to Ariqiul. We drove onto the Pamir Highway and ran towards Aliqiu. Ariqiul is just a supply station on the Pamir Highway, scattered with two khaki settlements, and there are hotels and restaurants for truck drivers on the side of the road. I asked Nisso’s husband to put me in a small restaurant on the side of the road, and waited for a passing driver to take me to Murghab, more than sixty kilometers away.
When it was almost noon, I got on a heavy truck. The driver is a Tajik. He runs Dushanbe-Kashgar all year round to transport Chinese goods back to Tajikistan. He was on the way to Kashgar to buy goods and promised to take me to Murghab. I don’t speak the language with the driver, and I can’t chat with the driver to relieve my boredom. Fortunately, after noon, there were some signs of busyness on the Pamir Highway.
Mulghab is the last stop before entering China. I checked into the only hotel in town-Pamir Hotel. Since late October, Murghab was covered by heavy snow, and the Pamir Hotel closed its doors. In summer, this is the “New Dragon Inn” in the Pamirs, bringing together travelers from all over the world. Most of them are Europeans, mostly French and Germans. Almost all are lunatics riding bicycles and crossing the “Silk Road”. In Murghab, I went to see the statue of Lenin, the highest altitude in the world, and then strolled around Bazaar. I plan to return home by land. Later, I met a German in the hotel and he wanted to go to China. We chartered a car together and walked the same road. On the way to the border, there were no people in sight, and there was a faint mist in the distance, giving people an infinite sense of desolation.
After going through the formalities at the Tajik port, going down the mountain from the border checkpoint, and passing through a 15-kilometer-long no-man’s land. The security guard stopped a truck and asked the Tajik driver to pick us off.
Although it is no man’s land, the roads on the Chinese side are smooth and smooth, and goats wandering around in the mountains can be seen. When we got to the bottom of the mountain, we looked back and found that the Pamir on the Chinese side had a better scenery. The Muztag Peak rose from the ground, magnificent, like an insurmountable barrier. The road is a dark black asphalt road-straight, flat and full of surrealism. Along this highway, going north is Kashgar, and going south is Taxkorgan.
I shook hands with the German and bid farewell, like two strangers who have shared secrets. After that, the Germans got on their bicycles and rode south, while I stood on the side of the road, waiting for any car that was willing to stop and take me in any direction.
There is a kind of unkindness and abundance in the wilderness
CHIC: In your impressions, which places you have been to are considered wild?
Liu Zichao: The nuclear explosion test site on the Kazakh prairie, the Pal Plateau, and the Sahara Desert
CHIC: What is the most intuitive impact they bring to you?
Liu Zichao: A sense of magnanimity and abundance of inhumanity.
CHIC: The wilderness generally symbolizes freedom, danger, distance from social order, etc. Even if there is nothing there, it is still desirable. What do you think attracts you to such a place?
Liu Zichao: After being kept in captivity in urban civilization for too long, you can turn yourself into a beast again.
CHIC: What is the most interesting thing you have encountered in the wilderness?
Liu Zichao: There is a “New Dragon Inn” on the Pamirs that only operates in summer. It brings together friends from all over the world, who are all riding the “Silk Road”.
CHIC: Have you encountered some dangerous moments? Describe a paragraph.
Liu Zichao: We broke down in the nuclear explosion test field on the Kazakh prairie. The surrounding radiation value is still above the standard…
CHIC: What does the wilderness mean to people today?
Liu Zichao: I understand awe and cherish.
CHIC: Tell me about some favorite wilderness literature, or film and television works.
Liu Zichao: Gary Snyder, “Meditation in the Wilderness”, Naughty Dog “The Last of Us.”
Wilderness Meteorological Observatory: The wilderness and inner belonging of modern people
Oral: Andy Photography: Xiao Yuhan CaliHot
In 2018, the Wilderness Meteorological Observatory did a topic selection. At that time, a couple from the United States traveled around the world. They gave up high-paying jobs and spent a year traveling across three continents. Unfortunately, they were attacked by ISIS in the Middle East. At that time, some people on the Internet ridiculed them, saying that they were too naive. We were very angry when we saw this, and we wondered how we could turn this highly political content into travel content. The couple recorded their cycling life and travel details on the blog. We translated these travel diaries and restored the truth of the whole incident through a simple and intuitive presentation. Although this journey has a very tragic ending, it is very memorable. What it conveys is a way to travel to the wilderness, to an unknown life beyond your control.
Young people born in the Internet generation have unprecedented curiosity about the world. They have more convenient conditions to get in touch with global topics and issues. Modern civilization is actually people’s imagination of a good life, and it has been built to provide a more convenient and convenient life. Now when it comes to wilderness, I feel a sense of nostalgia. Nowadays, most of the people who walk into the wilderness are sightseeing. It is really difficult for our generation to enjoy the ultimate experience. Because you have to abandon a lot of things. In such a natural environment, you can’t buy things with money, and you will really take some life safety risks.
I am a person who prefers to travel where there is no one. When I was a child, I spent a third of my time in the mountains. At that time, I was going to herd sheep. I drove the sheep to the old forest in the mountains and played by myself. I couldn’t see anyone around. I was so scared. Even now, I can still recall that feeling. When a person’s body directly talks to mountains and forests, what you see is completely different from what you see in pictures, videos, and movies. The sound of the wind, the sound of birds… only when you are in the wilderness will you really feel a mystic atmosphere.
One year I went to Meili Snow Mountain with my friends in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan. We went to many places like glaciers. Regardless of the geographical environment and cultural environment, the entire region is far from our modern life. I get a headache in the morning, which is the most basic altitude sickness. Seeing the lifestyle of the locals, you will want to understand why they are doing this. In fact, it is a way of life that is difficult to understand, such as their view of life and death, and their respect for the snow-capped mountains. In that environment, nature is too strong.
Those who go there have to answer themselves a question: Why are you going, and what is your purpose? You will find that traveling is not just about enjoyment, it can also be purely looking at the scenery or things you don’t know.
Wilderness Weather Station
Being in a city, but determined to “get out of the office”, the Wilderness Meteorological Observatory flies all over the world, explores the world’s thousands of things, shares different lifestyles and travel inspirations with readers, and provides another perspective and perspective to observe the world.
For our generation, the wilderness is really a symbol, a spiritual belonging, an imagination of the unknown world. It may also represent some more environmentally friendly and sustainable life concepts. For the Wilderness Meteorological Observatory, this is also the meaning. Walking into the wilderness, it also advocates a self-sufficient primitive lifestyle, a non-consumable way of survival. We often say that a new life is the wilderness you are about to go to.
It’s better to go alone in the wilderness