I just spent the past eight days working on a documentary with BBC World in Khorgos, on the Kazakh border with China.
The film is about how a clutch of large-scale development projects that are changing the surrounding society and impacting lives. It’s one of the best examples of how the New Silk Road is changing places, cultures, and people.
What’s extremely interesting about Khorgos is just how remote and improbable it is. The place sits a tick or two from the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility — the farthest point on the planet from an ocean; perhaps the very definition of remote. Just five years ago there was nothing there. If you look at a satellite image from then of where Khorgos is today you will see nothing but sand dunes. At that time Khorgos wasn’t on any maps, it didn’t even have a name. Literally, it wasn’t even a place yet. But today the place is emerging as an epicenter of cross-border trade, and the people there are leveraging the new opportunities.
The shooting locations for the film range from a state of the art, $250 million dry port and a booming free trade zone to the camp of a family of nomadic camel herders. The landscape is a montage of snow capped mountains, deep ravines, desert. . . There are train rides and crane rides and horse rides.
I have to admit that after that it’s a little difficult returning to text-based journalism.
I will have a vlog entry up about this soon.
For now, a special thanks goes out to my old friend Dmitri, who reads this blog and really bailed out BBC and myself big time with a huge favor. Thank you, man, we all really appreciated it.