Mother Na­ture opens up her paint box in the shadow of the sec­ond-high­est peak in the world

China Daily (Canada) - - XINJIANG -

Af­ter apri­cot trees bloom, farm­ers get out in the fields. Be­cause they of­ten have only small plots dot­ted with apri­cot trees, they fol­low the tra­di­tional way of turn­ing the earth, us­ing two oxen pulling a plow.

More than 400 Ta­jik fam­i­lies are scat­tered across the town­ship’s val­leys. Most of them are farm­ers. Be­cause the bloom­ing apri­cot flow­ers have be­come a tourist at­trac­tion over the past few years, sev­eral fam­i­lies have be­gun pro­vid­ing home­s­tays for tourists. For a price of 50 yuan ($7.74) to 80 yuan, a vis­i­tor can stay overnight and re­ceive three meals.

Since the flower sea­son started in late March, Kukik, a Ta­jik home­s­tay owner, said his fam­ily has earned more than 1,000 yuan a day for sev­eral days. Through farm­ing and sheep herd­ing, his fam­ily could barely earn 3,000 yuan a year.

From the city of Kash­gar, a vis­i­tor needs at least a day to reach the town­ship by car. Hid­den deep in the moun­tains, many town­ship herders are still liv­ing in poverty. The an­nual in­come pro­vided by a herd is only 2,000 yuan, on av­er­age, said Meng Meng, the town­ship’s Party chief.

The country has placed poverty-al­le­vi­a­tion on the top of its agenda, and over the next five years, the lo­cal govern­ment will en­act a se­ries of mea­sures to im­prove the vil­lagers’ lives, in­clud­ing road and elec­tri­cal projects, Meng said.

With im­proved in­fras­truc­ture, Ma­mat­bag Izbag, a lo­cal of­fi­cial, said he ex­pects more vis­i­tors in the fu­ture.

Farm­ers use a wooden hang­ing bridge to cross a rush­ing river.

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