Published: April 26th 2012April 2nd 2012
That was a place where had conflict between Uyghur and Han, so there are always special force of police around
Now I am back to my journey, I went to Xinjiang, the province of China from extreme west, gateway to Pakistan. Xinjiang province has huge area, also a Muslim province, so people there are different from Han ethnic, they are Uyghur, and the most of them look like western people, even some of them has green eyes.
This time I went there with Hao, a friend from last company where I was working in China, she got a 9 days vacation, we got a train from Shanghai to Lanzhou, then tried to get a train from Lanzhou to Turpan, but that was impossible, because of holiday so many Chinese were moving, there was no train ticket for next 5 days, so we had no choose, only by bus for a 22 hours of journey. Just to remeber, don't travel in holiday in China, or you should book the ticket as early as possible.
In Turpan, we rent a bicycle to see around by 2 days, that wasn't a common business there, so we paid a little expensive to rent, RMB 50 each per day. The first day we went to visit Flaming Mountain and Beziklik grotto, about 30km from Turpan to
Every time we got a bus to Urumqi, there was always policeman checking the ID of passengers.
east. The Flaming Mountain is the hottest place from China, in summer the temperature can go to more than 50 Celsius degrees, and temperature from the surface can reach more than 80 degrees, enough to cook a egg if you bury it into the land. Beziklik grotto was a place of religion carving and painting, but nowadays there are only some signals of those arts, the original were moved to museum or stolen. On the path we met another girl riding bicycle as well, she calls Margaret, a mix of Taiwanese and American, a very interesting girl teaching English in Xinjiang, and she speaks Chinese as well, we thought we were only one riding the bicycle to the place until we met her.
Next day we went to visit Turpan museum, Jiaohe ancient town and Karez well, without Margaret, she went back to Shihezi, where she teaches English. Jiaohe ancient town was one of greatest city in the past, even nowadays only left walls, but you can see how it was big in that time. Karez well was one of the biggest engineering from the past, around 2000 years ago, they made a underground canal to bring the water from
flaming mountain to the desert, the water come from the snow of celestial mountain, some canal can be more than hundreds km, and depth of well can reach 90 meters.
Arriving in Urumqi, we met again a Chinese guy from Lanzhou, then we were exploring the city, I didn't go far because my mom, Cicero from Brazil and JeongEun from Korea are coming to travel with me for a while, so I just stayed in Urumqi until they come, and that should one day after Hao leave. And there is a very rare scene in China, special force police, after 2008 in Tibet, I never saw so much special force roaming around on the streets, the Chinese government is really taking care of the place.
Actually there are no such things to see in Urumqi, the International Bazar, Hongshan park (Red hill park) and Xinjiang museum are basically the sights of Urumqi. Around Bazar you can see a lot of Uyghur people and their customs, like clothes and foods. Hongshan park is a beautiful place and if you go to the top you can have a great view of Urumqi. The Xinjiang museum is full of material about silk road,
where Xinjiang was main gateway, and also a lot information about the ancient kingdoms in Xinjiang, like Loulan. Even there were no such things to see in Urumqi, I spent a lot of time to visit them slowly, specially to be with my mom, after this time my mom probably will see me again only when I finish my trip, it is a little sad to her, but she seems OK now, specially she got a lot of jobs to do with my Brazilian friend Cicero.
We went to Celestial mountain, one and half hour from Urumqi, that is where the water come from to Karez well in Turpan, the important resource for the people in desert, and to plant grapes in Turpan. The ticket to access the mountain was expensive, RMB 190, little more than USD 30, this is China, making the tourism industry, anyhow the view is very beautiful with the famous celestial lake, that still has frozen surface, only will be fully melted in the middle of May.
My plan was to take a train to Kashgar, then take a bus to Pakistan by Karakorum highway, but the road will be officially opened for tourist on May
1st, so I decided not to wait until the date, and I booked a flight from Urumqi to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan on April 15th. Now it is the time to say goodbye to my mom, they have one more day in Urumqi, and I already settled a travel agency to them for one day trip, and I am ready to restart my journey.
The trips to Harbin with family, to Malaysia and Philippines with wife and to Xinjiang were not exactly like a backpacker, maybe yes for Xinjiang, so I didn't put the final accounting in these blogs, but next will have for sure.
There are more photos below