Monday, February 5, 2018

Carpe Diem #1363 Taklamakan Desert (the "Sea of Death")(Northern route)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Kai. This month we are traveling back in time while we are "trodding" along the ancient Silk Road. We are following the Northern Route that brings us along the Taklamakan Desert and later this month as we are returning home we will also take the Southern Route, also along the Taklamakan Desert.

The Taklamakan Desert is a very important issue this month, so I love to tell you little bit more about this Desert.

The Taklamakan Desert was once inhabited as excavations have proven

The Taklamakan Desert is one of largest shifting sand deserts in the world. It is intensely dry and located farther from an ocean than any other desert. Hemmed between China’s Kunlun and Tian Shan Mountains, this Chinese desert sprawls across an area of 100,000 square miles (270,000 square kilometres) and 85 percent of the total area consists of mobile sand dunes. The Taklamakan Desert has no permanent population, and few travelers brave crossing it due to its inhospitable terrain. This infamous expanse is often referred to as the "sea of death" or the "place of no return."

The Taklamakan Desert is distinguished by its constantly moving sand dunes. Its vast sea of gold sand is whipped into crescent-shaped sand dunes, some of which soar to 800 to 1,650 feet tall when winds reach hurricane force. Camels are the only animals able to tackle these monstrous dunes -- the way their feet splay outwards stops them from sinking into the sand.
The Taklamakan Desert supports small populations of animals like wild Bactrian camels, Asian wild asses, wolves, foxes, gazelles and wild boars. Camels, in particular, can tolerate the dryness of the desert area, and they are able to seal their slit-like nostrils closed, keeping out sand and dust.
Bactrian Camel

The Taklamakan Desert is almost devoid of vegetation. Tamarisk, nitre bushes and reeds are the only types of greenery found in the depressions between the dunes; however, plant life is much richer along the edges of the desert area. 
Locals recount tales that ancient cities filled with treasure lie lost and buried beneath the unknown depths of the Taklamakan Desert. In the late 1980s, an archaeological dig unearthed mummies in this remote region, some dating back to over 4,000 years. The mummies found show the wide range of peoples who have passed through the Chinese region; many exhibit Caucasoid features, and many were wearing European twill fabrics.
 The interest in these mummies exists largely because of their extraordinarily well-preserved state. One of the most famous mummies unearthed from the Taklamakan Desert is that of "Cherchen Man." He had reddish brown hair, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard.

Cherchen Man
The trails that border the Taklamakan Desert once formed parts of the Silk Road, the trading routes of the past that are still being used in the early 21st century.

There is no water on the Taklamakan Desert and it was hazardous to cross. "Takla Makan" means "go in and you'll never come out". Merchant caravans on the Silk Road would stop for relief at the thriving oasis towns. The key oasis towns, watered by rainfall from the mountains, were Kashgar, Marin, Niya, Yarkand, and Khotan (Hetian) to the south, Kuqa and Turfan in the north, and Loulan and Dunhuang in the east. Now many, such as Marin and Gaochang are ruined cities in sparsely inhabited dusty spots with poor roads and minimal transportation.
[...] "A goal stood before Siddhartha, a single goal: to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of wishing, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow. Dead to himself, not to be a self any more, to find tranquility with an emptied heard, to be open to miracles in unselfish thoughts, that was his goal. Once all of my self was overcome and had died, once every desire and every urge was silent in the heart, then the ultimate part of me had to awake, the innermost of my being, which is no longer myself, the great secret.
Silently, Siddhartha exposed himself to burning rays of the sun directly above, glowing with pain, glowing with thirst, and stood there, until he neither felt any pain nor thirst any more. Silently, he stood there in the rainy season, from his hair the water was dripping over freezing shoulders, over freezing hips and legs, and the penitent stood there, until he could not feel the cold in his shoulders and legs any more, until they were silent, until they were quiet. Silently, he cowered in the thorny bushes, blood dripped from the burning skin, from festering wounds dripped pus, and Siddhartha stayed rigidly, stayed motionless, until no blood flowed any more, until nothing stung any more, until nothing burned any more." [...]
(Source: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)

The above fragment from "Siddhartha" could have been easilyt placed in this surroundings. in the Taklamakan Desert. In the Taklamakan Desert the weather conditions are as extreme as above described in the fragment.

Maybe Taklamakan Desert is a place to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of wishing, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow. but as I read the information and look at the images than to me it's a place that I would love to visit ... it seems awesome.

sand dunes
protecting fragile life
from the sun

© Chèvrefeuille

Not a very strong haiku, but I think I have caught the essence of the Taklamakan Desert.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 12th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Tian Shan Mountains (Northern route), later on. For now ... have fun!

1 comment:

  1. I'm only just catching up with this month's theme, but already enjoying the wealth of detail and wonderful imagery :)