The valley that would be flooded after the completion of the dam in 7 years time. Work has barely started now, with the arrival of some engineers from Urumqi Water Works and other Geologists. There were only around 100 workers at that time and we were told that in the later construction stage, there can be a few thousands of people, literally turning this valley from a ghost site to a village! A small uphill path on the right leads to the KKH, the same way we have ridden in.
(Xinjiang,China … 12.05.05 to 05.06.05)
The current, temporary brick shelter with 20 rooms built by the Szechuans for the engineers. The site lies on the foot of the hills, facing the valley that is supposed to be flooded. While the engineers stay in the quarters, the Szechuan labourers were sleeping in the tentage outside.
Engineers from Urumqi at work, making some kind of funnel that would separate the different kinds of rocks for the initial foundation of part of the dam.
Dinner with the Director and Vice-Director of the Urumqi Water Works. Mdm Zhu, the Director (lady in picture) travelled all the way from Urumqi by train and pickup with her colleague, Mr.Luo (the Vice-Director, man beside her in pic)to visit the site and her team of engineers. We actually met them while riding into the valley as they were driving out. It was back at the site when they heard about us and invited us to have dinner with them, along with their special treat that night – 2nd class protected highland river fishes called “Xue-Tun”). They had caught those fishes when they went fishing in the rivers. According to them, sale of these fishes in Tashkurgan ‘black’ market (illegal since protected) would fetch
~USD15/kg and the fish is only 10~15cm long! However, the atmosphere in this dinner was unlike the previous dinner(s) we had with the labourers. It was more liked eating with your boss, very business-liked atmosphere. The engineers were respectively asked to join in and in return, they repeatedly sang praises of their bosses and toasting them with alcohol (60%). The repeated praising by the humble staffs really made us very uncomfortable in the dinner. Eventually we declared in a most humble fashion of our desire to turn in for the night. *grin*
The “Xia-Ban-Di” Dam Central Command camp, about 3km from the Urumqi Water Works site. This would be the site where the dam is to be built. A plaque indicated that the dam site at 2902m (ie. where the photo was taken).
3km from the base camp, another team of Geologists from ShanXi were at work. (pic)An engineer entering a 60m hole to collect rock samples at different depths. The samples would be brought back to ShanXi for in-depth study and analyzing to ascertain the available and suitable rocks there for the construction of the dam wall. Some of the team members have been collecting rock samples for the past 3 years. In fact, according to the head of the Geologist team, study on the region for the supply of water and energy and its possible influence in climatic changes has been on-going for 20 years already!
Drilling the hole for collection of rock samples. The depth can be from 20m-60m. Crates of rock samples can be seen around the drill site. Photography was only allowed at the permission of the head of the Geologist team (who, coincidentally was an avid photographer and head of some photography club).
Workers separating the rocks of different sizes and depths.
Ou proudly displaying the “SuoYang” herb that he and Sean have picked that morning. According to them, his herb is also good for the male ‘organ’. *grin* The look and shape of the herb already suggested something of that nature … *blink*
Hu-jie making ramen (Xinjiang handmade noodles) for the 20+ Urumqi engineers. Her husband is the site doctor and she followed him there to cook for the team, and to earn extra income for their family. It was through her that we learnt of the social status difference between blue and white collar workers in present China. The engineers are considered the upper class and the Szechuan labourers are coined as the people’s workers (or min-gong). She was surprised that we could stay and eat with the Szechuans and was even particularly concerned that we were not fed well enough. As such, during our 2 nights stay there, she repeatedly brought food for us, sometimes discreetly to avoid the Engineers’ knowledge. Her husband even gave us free blood pressure checking during the day, just to see how healthy we were at such altitude and long period of cycling.
A family of Tajik in their traditional costumes. They bring their livestocks into the valley for grazing during the spring and summer seasons. Their house is in the valley, barely few hundred metres from the work site. In few years time, their grazing ground would vanish.
Another team of Szechuan labourers working on a piping wall for the Urumqi Engineers.
With the team of Szechuans on our departure day. They have infact finished their work there and were waiting for the salary before leaving. However, unhappiness arose when their boss returned with the news that he could not get full payment from the Urumqi authorities (even though it is state-owned organisation!). As such, the workers have to contend with only partial payment and a “I.O.U” slip for late reimbursements. Delay or no salary payment issues were quite commonly heard during our numerous interaction with the Chinese workers along KKH.