mountain air

In the last few years of living overseas I have learned so much about myself - thru different cultures, cultural challenges, health issues, language learning, etc - and the biggest thing is: we all need to find a place to recharge! For me, getting outside the city does wonders for this nature gal. Just the fresh mountain air seems to give me new energy to press on.

I think I could even live in one of these Kazakh Yurts.

There are lots of mountains surrounding our massive city - about 1-4 hours away, depending which valley you prefer (or how long your kids can handle the non-AC drive). This specific valley is called Shui Xi Gou (水西沟) and its only about 1 hour away. The drive is very dusty & bleak until you reach the mountains - then everything is green! We live in one of the worlds' largest deserts, so you can imagine the brown dusty roads....turning green when we reach nature. There is a small creek coming down the mountain, which is actually glacial melt from higher up. The creek is so fun!

These valleys are home to many Kazakh's living in this province. They live a very simple life, raising horses, sheep & goats, and entertaining tourists! The villages are very inviting - since they are the closest piece of nature all around. Many Kazakh families will rent out their yurts for the day, roast an entire sheep for you, or take you riding into the mountains on their personal horses. They are so friendly & kind, though you need to know fair prices - or you might get taken advantage of.

On this particular visit - Asia & daddy played soccer with some local kids, and I took Eden & Sydney up the mountain on a horse. We rented a horse from this guy for 30 kuai - which is about $4.50! I wanted an old horse that wouldn't jump or be nervous with two kids on back. Yes, all three of us, on one bony horse. The girls LOVE it! Every time we ride a horse, they make sure to give it a name. Today, our horse was named Chocolate Kiss....and this is how we fit on CK:

After our horse ride, we hiked up the creek a bit and put our feet in the cold water to cool off. We also made a small friend.

More friends:

Riding back down the mountain, one on front, one on back:

Justin's preferred mode of transportation:

We also had fun picking flowers, finding bugs and enjoying the outdoors. Here's a few more picts just because.