On 9/11 I was traveling in Xingjiang Province in China, waiting for the night train from Turpan Zhan to Dunhuang. By chance, there was an Internet cafe next to the train station, so I went in and found a computer between some Chinese soldiers and a young Uyghur man chatting online with friends. Most Western news organizations were blocked in China, but Excite.com, where I had an email account, somehow got past the censors. When the page loaded, I saw the news that the WTC had been hit by a plane.
It just so happened that my girlfriend in Japan (now my wife) was online and so she relayed to me the news she was watching on her television. Occasionally, I would look around, only to find that the Chinese world was still unaware of what was happening on the other side of the planet.
When it came time to board my train, I was left in the dark. How many more planes were out there? Who was doing it? What would the world look like when I had a chance to check the Internet the next day. Looking around at the Chinese web surfers, I knew that nobody within hundreds of miles had heard the news. In fact, it would be another day before the Muslim inhabitants of Western China were allowed to hear about the attacks. And so, I had only my dark thoughts on that long, lonely trip.
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