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Christoph Rehage
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Tokmok means "Hammer" in Kyrgyz. It is one of the biggest industrial settlements in the country, and everyone who comes here seems to be looking for something.

When Germans come to Tokmok, they want to find Germans.
When Chinese come to Tokmok, they want to find poets.
When Americans come to Tokmok, they want to find terrorists.

I came with the night, looking for everything.

It was dark, and some of the buildings seemed to be empty. I set up the tripod in a hidden spot, wanting to stay unseen, but the night sent me a group of young men. They were dressed in black, and one of them was wearing a skinhead. He introduced himself as Ruslan. It turned out they were all very nice.

I told them I was taking footage for a project about Kyrgyzstan, and Ruslan said the buildings were dangerous. Bad people were living in them, was I not able to hear their voices? He pointed to his ear, and yes, there were faint sounds coming from the hollow insides of the buldings. He offered to take me there the next day, but I never heard from him again.

I stayed for a few days, and I found the terrorists first. Or rather, I found the place where they used to live, where they went to school, where they played with their friends before they moved to the US and blew up the Boston Marathon. People knew them still, but they seemed tired of foreigners asking questions, so I looked at the unloading of sugar beet instead. Lots and lots of sugar beet. I figured I had found my terrorists.

Then I went looking for the poet. I took a cab and told the driver to go in a direction southwest of town. We went on and on until I pointed to a place with a few holes in the ground. The driver shook his head and left, and I set down my gear and gently stroked past the ruins that were once Suyab, the supposed birthplace of Li Bai, one of the greatest poets in history. I looked at the green valley and at the mountains in the distance, and it slowly dawned on me that they hadn't changed much during the last one and a half millenia. I had found my poet.

The next day I took another cab to a place called Rotfront, a former German village. Life had never been easy for the residents, but it got worse when Stalin enslaved them into gigantic construction projects while their children were growing up with nomads in the pastures. Decades later, when the Soviet Union fell, most of them somehow ended up back in Germany, a place that they had not set foot in for two hundred years, a place where people looked at them as "Russians". I stayed with Wilhelm, a gentleman from Germany who had moved here to teach the language and keep the memory alive. He advised me to visit the graveyard, which I did.

At the graveyard, I found an old man who was putting down flowers at another old man's grave. He was of Russian descent, and he didn't mind talking. "This was my best friend," he said, pointing at the grave stone. I read the name on the plate. It was Rudolf, one of the children of the pasture.
I asked a stupid question: "Was he your very best friend?"
The old man laughed: "When Rudolf came down from the mountains, he was about 10 years old, and his Kyrgyz was better than his German or his Russian. We were the same age, and we became friends right there and then. We never left this village. He was the best friend I ever had!"
I could see the old guy's eyes turn a bit watery, so I bid my good-bye and walked around the graveyard some more. I didn't expect to come across an inscription that would burn itself right into my soul:

I AM HOME. ARE YOU COMING, TOO?

I had found my Germans.



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INFO:
This footage was taken in October 2014 in and around Tokmok, the Kyrgyz industrial town on the border to Kazakhstan.

▶GPS: N42.84391 E75.29810
▶Shot with DLSR 15mm 55mm
▶Soundtrack: Geroeva Alena - "Sad Heart"

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvkG4an-DUw
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1:39 Bamm, nice!
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I had heard about a certain sanatorium from the Soviet era. Its name Jeti-Oguz was supposed to mean "seven cows", and it was located somewhere in the mountains south of Issyk Kul. I like cows, so I decided to walk there. Walking was still hard. At night I stayed in a small room in the back of a restaurant and slept like a rock. The next morning I went on with my quest, until at some point there was this guy with a shovel and a car who told me that he would kindly take me up to the sanatorium. I got in and we started talking about gas prices and the economic situation. He had been digging up roots in a field, that's what the shovel was for. I ended up paying for the ride.
Upon arrival at Jeti-Oguz, I ran into a German couple and we started drinking. After the first bottle, we were joined by a Kyrgyz guy who could really put them away. It was perfect until at some point I decided to play with a bunch of dogs outside and they ended up stealing my hat. I found it the next day, torn up and dirty. Someone had put it on a fence so that the dogs would leave it alone. I washed it and put it back on. I only had one hat.
Jeti-Oguz was more beautiful than I had expected. There was a small hamlet and a river there. The "seven cows" consisted of a bunch of red hills that looked like cattle if you really wanted them to. The sanatorium lay dormant in the valley, very big and very empty, a crumbling testament to a fallen empire. When I walked down its corridors and heard my own echo, I found myself picturing what it must have been like half a century before.
Nighttime was the best time. Every evening after ten p.m., when the sheep and the horses had returned from the pastures and the lights went out one by one, you could see the milky way appearing up in the sky, turning ever so slowly, so huge that it was beyond anything imaginable.
It felt almost unreal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV8JNCXXIJo
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Reviewed another book about China for my site bookslap.com - this time it's Stephen Spender's and David Hockney's "China Diary", an illustrated account of a few weeks in China in 1981. http://bookslap.com/stephen-spender/
Review of Stephen Spender's "China Diary" - is this a coffeetable book or a regular travelogue, and is it worth a read?
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I took this footage in and around the village of Kaji-Say (Кажы-Сай in Kyrgyzstan, also transliterated as Kadji Say) in September 2014.
GPS-location: 42° 8'28.22"N 77°10'46.45"E
When I arrived and made my first step off the bus, a Russian guy said "welcome to the USSR" and smirked. And he turned out to be right: there was a certain morbid fascination to it all. I got a room in a sanatorium that had orange, smelly water coming out of the shower and attracted guests precisely for this reason (there was supposed to be "radon" in the water, whatever that meant). The tourism season was already over though, I was practically the only guest in the house.
The next few days I spent my time wandering around on the shores of the lake and in the village of Kaji-Say. The people were very friendly. I heard about the uranium mine that used to be there, and about the industry that had left after the fall of the Soviet Union. There were not many young people who had been able to resist the call of the city.
I found a tiny restaurant right next to the lake, and I would go there every day to have lunch or dinner, and when the weather was right I would plunge into the cool waves of Issyk-kul. It felt like magic: sunrays piercing through the water, white mountains towering over me, everything suddenly making sense somehow.
I would wait until I felt thoroughly cold, then lay down on the sand and let the sun dry off the water on my body. There was a bottle of vodka in my room. Sometimes I would take it up to the roof of the sanatorium and sit there, overlooking the beautiful village.
And I would think to myself: why was it that everything here seem so forgotten?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EsbaOP7YGE
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+Christoph Rehage Radon is a radioactive gas found in water and air. In the USSR it was believed to have almost miraculous effects on health, my late grandpa used to say that the mineral water springs next to our country house had radon in them. I have no idea if it's really true and if radon has any positive effect on health (if anything that sounds fishy), but it's a popular myth in the ex-Soviet world, if any mineral water had healing effects it would be just written off as radon water, which is (I'm almost certain) not always the case. I like your videos a lot, they're very beautiful and the music is always apt, thanks for making them :3 consider visiting Georgia whenever you feel like travelling again, it's a gem ^__^
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Second video I see by Jason Unruhe. Second video that was completely wrong. Second video that made a mockery of the many victims of Maoism in China. Second video to which I would like to add: Jason, please, learn some Chinese! 你在这儿帮毛胖胖洗地,你爸妈知道吗?
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He looks like a pram anyway
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Christoph Rehage

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When I arrived in Cholpon-Ata, everyone was gone.

Gone were the Soviet holidaymakers from decades past, gone were the tourists from yesterday. There was a heavy wind, and I leaned against it while I was stumbling down the main road. Much to my surprise, I managed to find a place to sleep. Again, I was the only guest. At night I used my sleeping bag and two blankets to keep warm. It was only October, but there was a wintry cold that came creeping down from the mountains.

I stayed in Cholpon-Ata for a week. I looked at old rocks with rock carvings on them. I climbed some of the hills to look at the cold mountains. I played with a cat and bought some sausage for it. Then the cat was gone and I ended up feeding all of the sausage to some mean dogs on the way. They looked very ill-tempered, and I wanted to be their friend. Especially so since I had to cross their way every night when I came back from my favorite spot: the mirror.

The mirror was actually a small lake next to Issyk-Kul. I liked to think of it as a mirror, because it was so calm and so clear you could see the sky twice. And the clouds. And the stars. I stayed next to the mirror for hours, and I wasn't alone. There were two little animals building something there. I figured they were beavers, and I realized that my presence annoyed the hell out of them. But after a while they apparently got bored of me and just decided to go on with their business. They would even come over to inspect my camera equipment. Rob and Bob we should call them, said the owner of the hostel where I was staying. Rob and Bob, the gay beaver couple.
And there was Hogan. I called him Hogan because he was very big. He would wait until I was almost asleep, then come leaping out of the mirror and into the clear air of the day, and then go splashing back down with a mighty sound. Hogan was a perfect showman. Or rather, a showfish.
And there were the crows. Every evening precisely at sunset they would come in the thousands, and they would sit it the highest branches of the tallest trees. The sun would go down and turn the sky pink and purple for a few minutes, and then, when darkness had just begun to sink in, they would leave for a different place.
I wondered if the crows came just to look at the sunset.

One time I ran into an old guy at the beach of lake Issyk-Kul. He had been to East Germany in the 70s, as a soldier. It was also the place where he saw his very first porn magazine. He laughed and told me about the time he went swimming in the Baltic Sea. It turned out there were myriads of jellyfish in the water, and he never went swimming there again.
Then he said: "Everything used to be better back then!"
When?
"In Soviet times of course!"
Back then, he said, there was no trash anywhere. You would buy milk in a glass bottle and then take the bottle back if you wanted more milk. Life was simple, the beach was clean, and the state paid for your holiday. Today, everything cost money! Back then, there were no rich people!
Are rich people bad? I wanted to know.
He looked at me, then made a gesture that encompassed everything around us: "What is it all for? They eat different bread and drink different tea. But what for?"
Then he left, his silhouette becoming smaller and smaller in the distance.

I heard a seagull cawing. I saw a plastic bag floating in the lake. The water was gently playing with the plastic bag, reminding me of a jellyfish.

 


Drop by on my site: ▶ http://www.crehage.com or add me on FB: ▶ https://facebook.com/crehage on TW: ▶ https://twitter.com/crehage

INFO:

This footage was taken in October 2014 in and around Cholpon-Ata, the old spa on the northern shore of Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan.

▶GPS: N42.63833 E77.09026
▶Shot with: DSLR 15mm + 55mm
▶Soundtrack: Sky-Productions - "Piano"

If you have any ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS, please refer to:
▶▶▶ http://crehage.com/faq


CONNECT WITH ME:
▶OFFICIAL SITE: http://crehage.com
▶FACEBOOK: https://facebook.com/crehage
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▶▶▶SUBSCRIBE to my channel: http://bit.ly/1BcQ6Ol

REISEERZÄHLUNG "THE LONGEST WAY" (PIPER/MALIK) ERHÄLTLICH:
▶Amazon: http://amzn.to/177iCpG
▶Hugendubel: http://bit.ly/1rJj5rc
▶Thalia: http://bit.ly/14hoJXr

BILDBAND "CHINA ZU FUSS" (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC) ERHÄLTLICH:
▶Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xAd7ve
▶Hugendubel: http://bit.ly/1zZqcP4
▶Thalia: http://bit.ly/1BqvYWR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRCbncvOBCA
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Those time-lapses are mesmerising!
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Christoph Rehage

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This footage was taken in October 2014 in and around Karakol, the biggest town on the shores of Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. (GPS: 42°29'1.02"N 78°24'6.25"E)
When I arrived in Karakol, I got a bunk in an eight-bed room. I was by myself, the only two other guests in the hostel were from Switzerland and Uzbekistan. Over the next few days, I made noodles that tasted like crap, I made vareniki that tasted a bit better, and finally I made pelmeni that tasted okay. I drank huge amounts of kvass.
When I went out, I found out that Karakol felt a bit like Kansas: wide avenues, single-storeyed houses with fences in front of them, crumbling plaster here and there and some vacant stores, but also a few well-kept houses with flowers in their front yards.
One time I saw two kids eyeing me from behind a tree when I was walking by. I figured it was a game where we would tail each other, so I also hid behind a tree and spied on them. They were very confused.
Another time I got lost in the mountains. I was resting on a pasture, looking at the sunset and at the clouds hovering over the mountains, when darkness covered the land. I walked back on twisting paths, and when I passed a road, I asked a driver for directions. He told me to avoid a certain area, because there were supposed to be bad people there. So I turned around.
There was another path, and it was absolutely dark. I was wearing my flashlight on my head, and suddenly two shiny dots appeared in front of me. Where they green or blue? Or yellow? They were moving, and after a while they turned out to be the eyes of a horse. The rider showed me the way to a factory where I found a lady called Marina She was working the nightshift burning bricks. There were holes in the ground, there was glowing coal to be put into the holes, and there was a shovel.
It felt like 100 years ago.
"Do you know how old our factory is?" she asked me. It was eighty years old, from the Soviet era. Marina was chubby and cheerful, she looked a bit older than thirty-eight, and her daughter was fourteen and had just started studying German. She showed me a nice new brick. "This is what houses are built with," she said.
I stood there, looking at the brick in her hands that were dark from handling the coal, and I suddenly remembered what the name "Karakol" was supposed to mean in Kyrgyz: black hand.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6CgFxNBdUA
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wow that sounded really really really really bad.
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+moonlily1 much edgy
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The Russian title means "The biggest fool under the sun" - love it!
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+Christoph Rehage Как раз в Китай собираюсь. Хорошее произношение)
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This is some footage I took during a three day trip to the biggest concentration/extermination camp that we, the Germans, built in WW2. Some of the footage is slow-motion captured by phone, and some of it is time-lapse captured by DSLR. I made some of the shots run backwards.
It just felt right that way.
While I was standing there, in front of the gate of Auschwitz-Birkenau, taking my photographs, a man appeared and asked me what I was doing.
Photographing, I told him. What for, he wanted to know, for business? I didn't know how to answer, so I told him it was for a project. Actually, it wasn't. Standing in front of these things for a long time, carefully taking pictures of them, just seemed like a good way to deal with it all.
"Where are you from?" I asked him.
"Israel", he said.
I just stood there.
"And where are you from?" he asked me.
"Germany", I said.
We both stood there, united in awkwardness, and I decided to make a joke. "I am one of the bad guys", I said, hoping he'd understand that I was making fun of me, not of him.
"Oh", he said.
We continued to stand there for a while.
"Do you know why I am here?" he finally asked.
I didn't know.
He looked at me as if he was waiting for an answer, and I heard myself fumbling for something to say: "We are all here looking for something, I mean, you are here looking for something, I am here looking for something..." Then I fell silent. I knew my words were utter and complete bullshit.
He apparently knew, too.
"I am here", he said, "because even Hitler didn't succeed. He wanted to wipe us out, but we are still here. I am here to say fuck you to all of this!"
He raised his hand towards the gate of Auschwitz-Birkenau, extending his middle-finger. One million or more had perished behind that gate. He knew very well why he was here.
We shook hands, then he left.
I turned around to my camera: it was still doing what it had been doing. The Polish sky was beautiful, low clouds rolling across the horizon.
And suddenly I knew what it was I had wanted to say to him: of course I couldn't claim to really understand why he was here. But at least I could have given him a no-bullshit answer as to why I was.
I was here because I didn't want to forget.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cM7He0wydw
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I visited Auschwitz too. And I am from Germany too. It was really sad and terrible to be there where thousand people died... :(
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The most hilarious thing about this video is that it is filed under "Education". Jason Unruhe should make an effort to learn Chinese and talk to some people from China for a change. His reasoning reminds me those neo-nazis who are denying the Holocaust: it all seems to make sense as long as you accept the premise that Hitler/Mao fell victim to a worldwide conspiracy. Don't bother watching this video, it is making a mockery of the millions and millions who starved to death during the so-called Great Leap Forward. Not worth anyone's time. Good luck to this Western Maoist with his China studies though: 林子大了什么鸟都有嘛。
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+Zippertrain85 go check the statistics of populuation in China per year.
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Munich
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Hanover - Wichita - Frankfurt am Main - Paris - Beijing
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I take walks sometimes.
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My books about the walk are finally out - find them on Amazon or in the bookstore of your choice!
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like camels
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  • LMU Munich
    China Studies, 2003 - 2014
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