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Hiking to Hemu

Dearest family and friends,

It has been a busy last week traveling from Dunhuang to Kashgar, Kashgar to Turpan, and Turpan to Hemu, a small village on the borders of Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan! We are currently enjoying cool, rainy, mountain weather, which we are welcoming with open arms after the sweltering heat of Turpan.

On the morning of the 28th, we all boarded a small bus with our essentials packed on our backs, and set off on our two day trek into Hemu. We hired three local guides to help us navigate the 35km trek, and they urged us along the way, all the while mounted on horses, challenging Diego and Max to arm wrestling competitions. As we neared our stopping point for lunch, we crested a large hill, and looked down in awe at our surroundings.  Winding through a vibrant green valley spotted with yurts was a turqouise river, clearer than any of us had ever seen. We stopped in this oasis to eat lunch, admire Felix, the local cat (from a very respectful distance), and absorb our surroundings.

After one full day of trekking, we slept in a local guesthouse, and woke early in the morning to continue on to Hemu. We hiked the 15km in silence, allowing all of us to truly reflect on the beauty of the landscape, and embrace the small details we might not normally notice in passing. This silence encouraged introspection in each and every one of us. Upon arriving in town, we feasted on baozi, steamed buns filled with pork. I think we might have cleared the entire village of their supply!

We are comfortably settled in Hemu for the next two days, where we plan on exploring the surrounding area and taking a few well deserved naps. Tomorrow, some of the students will lead us in an expedition day in which they assess and discuss the effects of the tourism industry in this region of China. More very soon!