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The Characteristics of Nature
(Tianshannet) Updated: 2008-January-11 17:57:50


The nature of Xinjiang is very unique, and it is also very fascinating.

Sayram Lake

When we say it is unique, that is because it stands in the centre of the Eurasian Continent, so each part of the place is very different, and each shape is also unbelievable. Thus it brings heart-quaked effects to people, and the inspiration it brings to people is particularly refreshing.

When we say it is very fascinating, it is because the most remarkable peak, plateau, desert, basin, oasis and inland river on the globe all happen to gather here, just like a fanciful design arrangement.

The nature of Xinjiang is far different from that of southern China, and it is totally different from most of the northern regions. This is not an unnecessary complement. It helps us perfect our understandings of nature.

Overlooking the scenery of Xinjiang, mystery arises spontaneously, while lure flows out continuously, and it is hard to control our desire as the vision tries to escape from our eyes, and the eagerness becomes so severe that our arms long to become a pair of wings. Feeling disappointed that we can not fully enjoy these desires, we are still unwilling to leave.

The mysterious Xinjiang benefits from its far away and isolated position, but the enchantment lies in its uniqueness and distinctness. Faraway is not only a kind of place-choice, but also a kind of saving value. The distance produces gravitation, and also stirs up pleasant impressions.

The attraction of Xinjiang benefits from its desolation and vastness, but the loveliness lies in its flavor and graceful style. Desolation is not only a kind of sparse charm, but also an alternative mode of enjoyment. The tragedy brings sadness, and also produces kindness.

The nature of Xinjiang, regardless of its outward appearance or inner content, is so abundant that a monograph may not cover all of it. So, let’s take the mountains, waters and deserts as an example and take a glance.

There are many mountains in Xinjiang, especially the huge cordilleras, and they all have their own specialties.

For example, the relation and distribution between human and nature at Tianshan Mountain is very interesting.

Tianshan Mountain is the landmark of Xinjiang, which lies in the central part of Xinjiang and extends over 1,000 kilometers from the east to the south, with most of its altitude ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 meters. The above 4,000 meters altitudinal places are covered with snow all the year round; most of the 2,000 meters altitudinal districts are covered with forest; following the forest is the grassland; the wastelands are located below the grassland; continuing downwards is plain oasis. The borders between snow mountain, forest, grassland, wasteland and oasis are definite, and they are well-ordered. The structure of the vertically-altitudinal belts make the mountain look brief and direct, and full of profundity, adding a three-dimensional effect. The character of the mountain also influences the villagers who live in this mountain area.

Tianshan snow lotus

The hunters hunt in the forest, the shepherds herd on the veldt, the farmers cultivate in the oasis, and the businessmen come and go between them. The hunters are good at playing musical instruments, the shepherds like singing, the farmers prefer dancing, and the businessmen enjoy talking. As for the citizens who live by the river, they know everything, and they can do everything.

Life and thinking-originally can be so simple, relaxed and meaningful!

In fact, the reason for Tianshan Mountain being like this is also quite simple; it stands alone in the driest district in Asia.

Because of the lesser rainfall but quick evaporation, all the lives here are lived on snow mountain and glacier. The melted snow flows down from the top of the mountain, feeding the forest, grassland and oasis one by one in order. At the end of the stream is the pitiful Gobi and desert. No matter whether it’s the satisfied forest and steppe, the singing and dancing oasis, or the helpless Gobi and desert, they always keep in order for thousands of years, and tightly get together around the mountain. We do not know if this is the power of mountain or the intelligence of the lives. But one thing that can be confirmed is that the mountain brings up the people and educates people simultaneously, while people depend on the mountain and respect the mountain in return.

The inborn inferior position does not stunt its development, but rather helps shape its virtue.

Probably because of this, Tianshan Mountain is so old, kind and fatalistic. It remains as pure, passionate and free as a kid.

No matter where it is, the mountain range has no other choice. This seems to be its destined fate. But water; although it is usually a good partner of any mountain, is too diversified.

In the ocean, water dominates all lives. In the river, water is immortal stars made by the splash of the waves. But in Xinjiang, water is a natural law, and it is the dimension to measure destiny. When there is water, there are lives; without water, deathly solitude will prevail there.

But the water neither shows its cruelty, nor shows off its sweet charm, and it always protects and manages nature as a real Queen Mother.

Many people think that Xinjiang is a barren land of extreme water shortage, which is in fact a widely spread misunderstanding. There are 570 rivers and more than 100 lakes in Xinjiang, with annual runoff surface water reaching 88,000 million cubic meters, the quantity of the groundwater also exceeds 20,000 million cubic meters, and the theoretical water resource storage here ranks fourth in China. Most of the Yili River and Ergis River flow into the foreign countries, that is to say, not all the water resources are channeled and used.

It may be hard for you to believe that Xinjiang has a history of shipping. In the 1950s, there was a shipping route hundreds of kilometers long along the Yili and Ergis River, and during that period, the to-and-fro steamers became one of the most important transportations for the cargo exchanges between China and Russia at the northwest place in China. At that time, the boats and ships were also familiar vehicles on the Tarim River and Peacock River.

Even the extremely droughty place, the Tarim Basin, may conceal many water secrets. Thinking about such a well closed-in basin, surrounded by the Tarim, Kaidu, Peacock, Weigan, Aksu, Yerqiang, Kaxgar, Hetian and Cheerchen rivers, most of the floating water seeps into the underground except for that which evaporates. The seepage water will eventually find its home, and may not go too far. Long ago, in the past years, people thought the water hid underground, appearing in Qinghai province thousands of miles away, and the real headstream of the Yellow River. Now people know that this is an obvious mistake. But if one day you may hear reports from the media saying that a huge underground reservoir is found in the Tarim Basin, it is good news that is to come sooner or later.

In such a dry place, water is neither a princess in the palm, nor a funny woman in the village; as a place that is far from the ocean, the performance of water is so fascinating as to be out of your imagination. Seeing from the appearance, there are solid snow and ice, liquid water and dew, and also gaseous cloud and fog; seeing from the position, snow mountain, glacier, river, lake and groundwater are available everywhere; seeing from the alignment, the rivers flows to the east, west, north and south, in all directions; and seeing from the ending, there are numerous inland rivers, and also China’s only outflow river that heads to the Arctic Ocean. The waters express their elegant appearance thoroughly, and their simpleness and freedom make people’s plight an enviable one. Strangely, the precious and lovely waters do not cause madness and fighting. Wherever the waters go, the plants follow. Wherever the waters retreat, the plants will disappear. Water comes and goes on this earth, attracting numerous animals, plants and people, leaving numerous extinct living creatures and a lost civilization.

You’ll find it hard to believe that even a desert can get along well with water. To people’s surprise, the rivers and deserts in the Tarim Basin, with an area of 600,000 square kilometers, are interlaced, and live in the same geography environment. In the east of the basin, the Peacock River goes deep into the hinterland of the Kuruk Desert, while in the west of the basin the Hetian River goes across the desert from the south to north. The Cheerchen River walks through the south of the desert, and the mainstream of the Tarim River, with over 1,000 kilometers long, flows in the north brink of the Taklamakan Desert. Although the branches of the rivers occasionally stretch into the desert, feeding a field of Euphrates Poplars, and sometimes filling in river channel, what is evident is their invariable belonging.

With a topography of "Three Mountains and Two Basins" as its background, the water is able to fully showcase its personality. It supplies lives with milk, and eternally comforts desolation. Animals, plants and mankind pursue the water, and they infinitely respect it. Gobi, desert, and wasteland accompany the water, although the water is near, it is hard to get. However they seems all the time with no regret. This kind of scene, which looks as intentional in arrangements as a play script, is just so fascinating and meaningful!

The desert is another leading role with fresh and clear personality which also boasts Xinjiang’s name card.

Taklimakam Desert

There are many deserts, especially big deserts, in Xinjiang. They are as big as the area of several provinces in China, so that even if you open the door you will meet them. The types of deserts are various; there are flowing deserts, fixed or half-fixed deserts, basin deserts, valley deserts, and plateau deserts as well.

Many people have never seen a desert, but they keep deep in their mind a fear about the desert. We cannot say this rooted fear has not reasons, but it certainly conceals much beguilement and ignorance.

In fact, driving along the highway across the Taklamakan Desert, seeing the vast and huge sand dunes jumping vividly in front of your eyes, you will experience something as if you were personally on the scene, just as if you saw the ocean for the first time, in addition to the excitement.

Being in the desert, which is densely covered by drip irrigation pipes, seeing the situation of the trees growing up in the desert, all complaints about the desert are gone. If you cover yourself up in the warm sands to have a sand-therapy, the contact between your skin and the sand is very pleasing, and at the same time, all illness is dispelled, so your sensation about the desert is increasing. These dramatic endings are usually surprising, but they often happen in the desert.

You will find it fantastic if you stay in a hotel in the desert for several days, visiting the oil-field, observing the lives, waiting for the sunset, and feeling the intimate contact with the desert.

The topography of the vegetation carpet is certainly very nice, but the bare Gobi and the desert do not necessarily refer to ugliness. The bareness is a kind of practical demand that cannot be prohibited; this rule is suitable for humans, and likewise nature.

And standing on the mountains, Gobi and deserts, you can directly enjoy a general picture about the beautiful natural outlines and lines, getting a more solid effects about the clearly contrast between the high and low places, the bright and dark colors, observing numerous details about the evolution of nature.

The naked desert express a lot of self-evident meanings, but what a pity that people never read them carefully. However, the camels may feel comfortable about the soft sands, and the red willows may feel satisfied about moist places in the desert. These are a cognitive standpoint and a state without the need for complicated analysis.

It is hard to imagine, but if we didn’t have the nature of the desert, not only would the nature of the world become disabled, it would also bring disasters on human beings, just like the earth without the cover of the ice in South Pole.

Anyway, after a glance at the natural environment of Xinjiang, your curiosity regarding this mysterious land could be satisfied to some extent. However, what is more important, the power of nature is thought-provoking, giving you more spiritual enlightenment.

(SOURCES:XJTS)Editor: 吴文彬
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