A few years ago while my wife and I were working in China, we went for a long holiday in Xinjiang Province, which is the most westerly and northern province in China, bordering onto Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and several other Stans. By the way, “Stan” is a Farsi word which simply means “place of ……. People” So Pakistan means “Place of the Paki People” and so on.
Anyhow, we had just completed a 36 hour ride in a sleeper bus from Urumji and arrived at a small town near the Kazakh boarder and were sort of standing beside the bus wondering what to do next, when a couple of young Chinese girls and their tiny kid brother who had also been on the same bus as us came over and and started to talk to us.
This resulted in an invitation from them to rejoin them on the bus and head on off to the end point of the bus’s journey where there was apparently a very beautiful area of alpine countryside.
So, having no other pressing appointments, we agreed, clambered back onto the bus and headed off for another 5 or 6 hours driving and duly arrived at the small provincial town near to this especially beautiful landscape.
With their help we booked into a reasonable small hotel and enjoyed an evening in the town with them and their tiny little brother.
The next morning we hired a taxi for the day and headed off with our friendly Chinese girls to explore the famous area of natural beauty.
As we approached it, we ran into a serious Chinese Police road block – machine guns and so on very much in evidence sadly, and here our passports were checked extremely carefully. There seemed to be some sort of problem with our passports, but it wasn’t made clear what the problem was, so we were told to leave them with the cops, and carry on into the hills.