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Posted on Monday, November 07 - 2005

" The moon is barely a crescent in the sky as dusk darkens the milky green surface of Lake Kanasi.Four people huddle on the edge of a floating wooden dock, eyes scanning this mountain lake near China's remote northwestern frontier with Central Asia. Small waves lap at their shoes. In a sof..."


The moon is barely a crescent in the sky as dusk darkens the milky green surface of LLake Kanasiake Kanasi.Four people huddle on the edge of a floating wooden dock, eyes scanning this mountain lake near China's remote northwestern frontier with Central Asia. Small waves lap at their shoes. In a soft voice, Yuan Guoying recounts his two sightings of the creatures. The first over there, from a cliff, Yuan says. Then again, 19 years later. From the group comes a squeal as tiny, silver fish dart at hunks of bread they have dropped in."Look! There are so many of them!" says one girl. "But where's the lake monster?" Another40 minutes pass.

A chill breeze kicks up. Yuan is unfazed. "We can wait all night," he says. "Let's see if this is our fate." They have come by the tens of thousands over the years - skeptical scientists, curious tourists - answering the lure of the mysterious "Kanasi Huguai," China's very own version of the Loch Ness monster. On this particular trip, part class reunion, part tour package, there are a handful of Yuan's university buddies and their wives (mostly retired professors from Beijing with graying hair and quiet humor), three teachers, a nurse, a local reporter, a university student, a lab technician and her mother. They have flown thousands of miles to Xinjiang Province and been driven 15 hours to get to the lake and commemorate the20th anniversary of Yuan's first sighting of the monsters. The outing shows how far 40 years of economic reform have taken China and how much more time and money people have to explore interests that were squelched as superstition, an offense to communist dogma. In today's society, myth-making and chasing are a big business, and the supernatural and the paranormal are no longer taboo. Reports of a Chinese "Bigfoot" have been picked up by the official Xinhua News Agency, while tourists have searched for the "Xiao Yeren," small wild men. UFO sightings are treated with great seriousness. A conference on the topic was held in September, and UFO buffs claim support from eminent scientists and liaisons with the country's secretive military. Yuan, a researcher at the Xinjiang Institute ofEnvi......


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