Day 11: Exploring Minfeng (Niya)

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March 7th 2018
Published: March 7th 2018
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lBreakfast at Minfeng Dihuang International Hotel starts at 9.00 Beijing time and we decided on a long-lie so arrived at 9.30 (i.e. 7.30 local time) to discover it had all been eaten! After salvaging something from the remains, Christa and Maghnus went off to discover bus times for tomorrow, Minfeng to Qiemo. It transpires that the bus leaves here at 7pm, and we know from experience that it averages 20 mph due to the administrative arrangements en route, so might well reach Qiemo about 4 am, possibly rather later. So, the next stage is to be by hired car, 700 yuan (about £90). Whilst investigating the small but neat, friendly and relatively rural town, C and M found themselves in the middle of a "Dad's Army" scenario and were ushered into a wee fruit shop until it was all over. A later, full strength expedition saw us in the market area, which was very impressive in the range and quality of fruits, vegetables, nuts, raisins etc. We enjoyed a nice "set-meal" lunch in an unusually ambitious small Uighir restaurant; the main buildings have been rebuilt and this venture was in a double unit, with every effort to be clean, bright and welcoming. If tourists do start to come in measurable numbers, it will do well; even now, it is likely to attract many of the younger generation, with children. Moving on, we were struck by the detailed gradations of many items, there could be twenty differing types of raisins, almonds, brazil nuts etc. on offer on a single stall and clearly people are able to distinguish between them. Maghnus and Christa decided on an al frescopudding, a yoghurt and a rather hard, lumpy, baked item; at that point a very loud, lengthy and curious parade of official vehicles reached our vicinity, wending its way through the entire town (streets having been closed off to facilitate the process). Kevin, not eating a pudding, idly watched the parade go past, thinking back to the days of Carnival Parades when he was young, and was a little surprised when he was approached by a group of four officials and asked to hand over his camera. This was inspected carefully, and at least the picture of the condom rack in our hotel raised a laugh; oddly enough, the parade had not been of enough interest to have been photographed; maybe we have bigger ones in
Al Fresco pudding consumptionAl Fresco pudding consumptionAl Fresco pudding consumption

The yoghurt is fine, not quite so sure about the unusually hard, lumpy breadlike thing

The dust settled at last, the sun came out and our very pleasant rambles led us through cultivated areas and back to the hotel. Dinner was in the same restaurant as the night before, and we even went so far as to ask for some potatoes. In fact we had noodles and kebab, but were presented with two splendid (and entire) bulbs of garlic! Possibly the phrase-book word for "potato" is ambiguous. Atmosphere was brilliant, Christa checked out the kitchen where the noodle-maker was working flat out, and as flambuoyantly as if he were on stage; equally flambuoyant was the giant wok, from which sheets of flame shot to the ceiling every few minutes. All good stuff.

Additional photos below
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Nan bread ovenNan bread oven
Nan bread oven

This is made of welded steels strips by a local artisan; it is normally buried and the bread, whilst baking, adheres to the inside walls. This example has been exhumed due to housing redevelopment process.
Avenue approach to MinfengAvenue approach to Minfeng
Avenue approach to Minfeng

Avenues like this, for local access, pedestrians and putputs, flank the very wide highway approach to Minfeng. The lengthy vine trellis is made of concrete, painted like wood. An enormous investment, aimed to enhance the town as a tourist destination. We were the only non-Chinese in town.

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