Text by Chu Jiwang
In September 2013, following thehonor of joining a delegation travelingwith President Xi Jinping to theConference on the Establishmentof the Sino-Kazakhstan EntrepreneursCommittee in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan,I joined several other Chineseentrepreneurs in setting off from Alma-Atato Bishkek, the capital of Kyrghyzstan, toattend a meeting of the Business Councilof the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), held lakeside of Issyk-kul.
On our way to the lake by bus rollingthrough ravines and across deserts, wesaw no shadows of birds or animals andonly the desolation of the great wilderness.“What pitiful land,” some complained.“Nature is fair,” another argued. “It hasabundant untouched reserves of gold, coal,petroleum, and natural gas. If it was developed,it would become a busy metropolis.”
We finally arrived at the lake after a16-hour drive. The world was totally different.Seeing nothing but a vast expanse ofdesert for 300 kilometers, we were stunnedby almost everything along the lake feeding our eyes – every blade of grass, fresh andalive, every little flower bud, and a pool ofcrystal water – full of vigor and vitality, notto mention the surface of the world’s secondlargest alpine lake.
The lake became especially charmingafter our tour guide recounted a legend.There were no residents prior to a foreigninvasion. After fleeing their homes, theKirghizs saw the beautiful scenery ofIssyk-kul and the fear and panic causedby invasion melted. They took off theirclothes and threw themselves into the lake,enjoying the gift nature bestowed, and thepursuing forces arrived. Also astonishedby the beauty of the lake, the soldiers weresuddenly softened by the people bathing inthe lake: “War is nothing but a sin,” theyrealized. “Massacre is brutal.” With that, avillage shared by settlers and soldiers wasestablished, where they lived contentedlytogether for centuries.
That legend isn’t alone. The mostpopular, perhaps, alleges that GenghisKhan was buried under the lake in a sarcophagusalong with six other coffins filledwith priceless treasure. No physical evidencehas lent credibility to the tale, but ithas still attracted numerous treasure huntersand archaeologists.