National Geographic : 2017 Dec
SPIRITS OF THE SILK ROAD 141 invaded his canteen. (For me the micro-lawns and containerized buildings at Karakuduk shim- mer like Coleridge’s fantasy khanate of Xanadu: Its hot showers and air-conditioning are “a mir- acle of rare device, / A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!”) No. Mr. Liu is worried about safety. We have somehow breached the oil field’s 10-mile-wide security core without tripping elaborate rings of motion sensors. A company guard escorts us politely off the property. He stands beside his car for a long time, staring us back into the glistening Kazakh plain. Cumulonimbi are dragging their purple skirts of rain through a yellow sunset. To the overalled inmates of Karakuduk, we are jinn. MARcO POLO gets star treatment. But many others walked the old Silk Road. Ibn Battuta, the tireless Arab traveler, spent three decades roaming the East from Morocco along branches of the trade route. Hindu warriors A Soviet-era passenger jet looms outside a café in Andijon, Uzbekistan, a key stopping point on the old Silk Road. The city was the site of a government massacre in 2005, when military forces fired into a crowd of people protesting the country’s economic and political conditions, killing more than 700 people.