[ Sept.1996 ] We decided to join the Starry Sky Tour run by the driver of the donkey carriage which we had taken when we were looking for a hotel in Turpan in China.
It started at 9 pm.
Before that, we still had some time, so we went out around 8 pm and found a market of street foods.
I enjoyed Shish Kebab here, which I had not been able to find during the day.
It cost only 2 yuan per skewer ($1 = 8.28 yuan in those days).
And it was delicious as the guidebooks praised.
We enjoyed walking around the market and tried a skewer of fried fish, too (1 yuan) and it was also very good.
This market was full of energy and had a lovely atmosphere.
The local people seemed to have dinner here as most of the tables were occupied.
Now the Starry Sky Tour started.
This Uighur driver was learning Japanese language and apparently his teacher named him ‘Kazuo Yamamoto’.
And because of that, his customers were Japanese: two young women and one young man.
The carriage went slowly jolting along the dark streets without any street lights.
One of the young women said “This is the mood of ‘Dona Dona'”.
Along the way, I peeped at the residential houses with the light on and found that many of the people had their beds outside their houses.
According to ‘Mr. Yamamoto’, our destination was ‘Hospitable Desert’.
It took long time to get there and during our journey, ‘Mr. Yamamoto’ kept talking in Japanese.
He said that he had been doing this job for 6 years and now he was 20 years old.
Did he start working at the age of 14, then?
wanted to get married to a Japanese woman.
He said earnestly “Maybe because I do not have money, no one comes, so now I am saving money” and “I guide Japanese people every day, but no one stays…” and so on.
The sky was clear when we were travelling, but when we arrived finally at around 11:30 pm, there were some clouds.
It was pitch-black, so I could not tell the landscape around here, but anyway, we sat on the blanket spread on the ground and looked up at the sky.
Every time someone saw a shooting star, a voice was raised.
But I kept missing it.
‘Mr. Yamamoto’ told us that the number of the shooting stars you saw was the number of the children you would have in the future.
Oh I see, that was why I did not see any.
But on the way back, I saw one for the first time in my life.
It was so quick that I could not pray to the gods anything.
It was funny that while we were all watching the sky, only ‘Mr. Yamamoto’ was sleeping deeply.
So it was a great fun, but when we were finally back in the town of Turpan, it was 3 am.
And we were shocked to see the gate of the hotel was closed.
The security guard was sleeping on a bed inside the gate and would not wake up.
We had no choice but to clime over the gate.
Luckily, the door of the building itself was not locked.
The last hurdle was the room door and we had to wake the person who was in charge for the floor.
She opened our door without a fuss and even smiled to us, which was a nice surprise.