|Raiders of the lost Arch
Within the true travellers nature lies the wish to find that one special place nobody has been to or at least only few. Ward, a guy from Belgium we have met, had read a story in the National Geographic Magazine about Shipton¡¯s Arch, A lost arch that had recently be re-discovered near Kashgar. The article described the arch as the highest and tallest natural arch (bridge) in the world. Ward had asked around in Kashgar and searched the internet for details. Not a lot of people had heard about it but he managed to arrange a four wheel drive car, a driver and a guide. He also arranged a small group to join him. So there we were... Raiders of the lost Arch. 2 Americans, Barry and Chris, Ward from Belgium and us!
We leave Kashgar early in the morning and are all excited. Our guide has seen the arch from a distance he tells us. The journey takes us 50 kilometers outside Kashgar. There we have to drive for half an hour through a river bed untill the driver sais it was too much for his car. Our guide, well guide is a big word doesn¡¯t seem to know the way as he had seen it from the point where we stop.
We see the arch, majestically but small in the distance. We have to see it from closeby. The only way to get there is to cross a desert and climb the mountains. We have no idea what to expect and scout the terrain with binoculars. After agreeing which direction to take we start walking. 5 adventurers in search for a passage to the lost Arch. Luckily it isn¡¯t hot but the terrain isn¡¯t easy. We cross several riverbeds and then follow another one to what we think is a canyon that will lead us to Shipton¡¯s Arch. But when we climb the last hill, we come across a deep ravine. Then we look at the mountains and realise that the arch cannot not be reached via this side at all. We feel bad and great at the same time. We have been one of the first to see it, although it isn¡¯t from closeby. We now know that if you want to see it from closeby, you have to approach it from behind and stay the night at the arch. We sit down and have fun. We all know this place will become touristy and joke about Archie¡¯s guesthouse, Archies restaurant, Archies bungeejumping from the Arch and a trainride past the graves of 5 stupid foreigners who died trying to approach it from the wrong side!
Then we nortice a cave and Chris, the american thinks it resembles the Torra Bora caves in Afghanistan. He reckones bin laden is hidding there and starts calling him. We all laugh our pants of. As we know we can¡¯t get any closer we return to the car through the desert. Before we get to the car we make an agreement to have a reunion in ten years from now............ at Archie¡¯s Guesthouse.