2004.05.28 Urumchi, China

I've decided that brief profiles of some of the characters who appear throughout the pages of davidwong.com is in order. Some readers have sent e-mail asking, "Who is that a photograph of?" Others have noted that I've neglected to caption the majority of the photos on my gallery pages, so most offer little context. I've figured that even those closest to me might not be able to connect the narrative to faces, or recall just how I became acquainted with whom.

I apologize to all those I write of. I'm sure that my one-paragraph snippets are far from whatever auto-biography they themselves would compose.

Mike Mike

My closest friend since high school. Currently exploiting the "educational training re-imbursement" terms of a lay-off package by studying computer programming in Bangalore, India. We both left Seattle at the beginning of autumn 2003 to set off on journeys of 1 to 2 years. He's the one accompanying me around Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Xinjiang throughout the first entries of the travelogue.

First referenced in Hospitality


Joyce a.k.a. Wu Jing 吴婧

A dear friend who has been helping me out since we met. We became acquainted in Sost, Pakistan. She'd been backpacking around Xinjiang, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, as well. Joyce helped connect me to foreign admissions directors at schools in Kashgar and Urumchi. She's served as my interpreter in all manner of situations, most recently when I sought medical aid in Beijing. It was at her apartment I was staying for the first two months of 2004, while my application to Kashgar Teachers' College was pending.

Joyce is an ethnic Tu Jia 土家, (one of China's 54 recognized minorities)

First referenced in Destination Reached

Paul Paul a.k.a. Polat

Master Spy, as well as the guy who lives across the hall from me. Adept at Turkic languages, Uighur included. Returning to the US after this term to pursue graduate study in the hard sciences. He's the one who encouraged me to start working out. We went in together on an acoustic guitar, which we trade off on who gets to keep for the night.

First referenced in Fight II

Zhi Shuang

Zhi Shuang 支爽

Owner of a pleasant cafe on the Xinjiang University campus. Majored in journalism, but couldn't find work in the field after graduation. Started up the cafe instead, and is now being lauded by the local authorities as the epitome of China's model entrepreneur. Has a cute puppy she brings in to work occasionally. She's the one I mention taking me around various Urumchi hospitals after my hand injury.

Zhi Shuang is Han (Chinese), who are of course the largest ethnic group in the country (or the planet, for that matter.)

First referenced in Hand Injury

Nisagul Nisagul

Mathematics major at XU. I met Nisagul through a classmate I've fallen out of contact with. She's a good conversation partner, as our abilities in each other's language are roughly par. She's also the one who lent me keen calligraphy cards.

Nisagul is an ethnic Uighur, the largest group among China's minorities.

First referenced in Preliminary Intelligence

Shahnaz Shahnaz a.k.a. Christina

I met Shahnaz at the cafe on campus--she's a friend of Zhi Shuang's. She actually attends a different school, Urumchi's Education College. We were introduced the night before I flew back to Beijing to find a hand specialist. We met up again after my return, just a few days ago. The photo was taken at one of Urumchi's night markets, where we split a dish of jiao ma ji.

Shahnaz is also Uighur.

First referenced in Cast of Characters