Well, I've been all the way around the stinkin' Taklamakan Desert. By the way, did you know that this name is a Mongolian name meaning "Enter but never return"? Well I entered and I definitely returned. I still haven't ridden my camel and camped overnight yet, but I did climb a sand dune when our bus made a bathroom stop. More about that later. For now, I will give a brief status update and reveal our plans for the rest of this trip. Angelyn and I are alive. We're back in Urumqi (the furthest city from the ocean in the whole wide world). We were planning on going to Turpan, about two hours from here, and spend a few days taking in the sights and maybe camping in the sand dunes. One reason to do this was to pass the time until next weekend when our friend Orange (yes, that's her name) would be coming home to Urumqi and we could spend two or three days hanging out with her and her family. Two days ago, while lying exhausted in a hotel in Khotan, I received a message from Orange saying that she still isn't sure if she can come home or not. That kind of pushed us over the edge of our exhaustion, so Angelyn and I immediately went out and arranged transport home to Shiyan. Tomorrow we'll fly to Xi'an and the next morning we'll take our final 8 hour leg of the trip by train and arrive in Shiyan. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to my apartment. A lot! Anyhoo, we cut out the Turpan, desert camping, camel riding part of the trip, which really stinks. I'll find a way to make up for it before I die. At least we got to do the Karakul Lake, mountain climbing, glacier viewing, Kyrgyz yurt sleeping part. Now I'm going to shower and go to bed because I am really really tired after last night's bus. I didn't exactly fit in the crevice they provided on the sleeper bus so I'm sore today. Plus Orange's parents tracked us down this morning and force fed us for about 7 hours straight. It tasted good but I think I exploded so violently about 5 hours into it that I actually landed back together in one piece. Weird, I know. I'm signing off until I'm back in my own place, so I'll catch you guys and dolls in two days!
P.S. - I lost my phone on the bus last night. :(