Day 13: Exploring Qiemo (Cherchen)

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March 8th 2018
Published: March 8th 2018
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Camels on a smallholdingCamels on a smallholdingCamels on a smallholding

Maybe they are used during the tourist season? It is hard to imagine that they are in normally productive work.
We are at Qiemo, about to move on tomorrow (by bus?) to Ruoqiang.

An excellent breakfast, after which we decided to explore. Oddly enough we noticed that the reception staff, so helpful last night, were the opposite today – very nearly rude, and unwilling to divulge such information as the way to the bus station (1000 metres straight along the road!). Anyway, we set off and I may say that we received information about tomorrow’s bus (sadly wrong, but given in good faith), although for various reasons we were unable to go to the bus station ourselves. Those who know me will forgive a slightly gnomic account of this day’s events and doubtless read amongst the horizontals; suffice perhaps to say that it was a fascinating day, hugely interesting in every way, and that the very many people with whom we had dealings were correct, courteous and well-intentioned.

We decided it was time for some exercise, and that we would visit certain tombs at Zaghunluk, also the important architectural tourist attraction of Toghraklek Manor, near Lalulik. This meant a walk of maybe 5km each way, or rather longer if any routes happened to be unavailable. It was an excellent
Fire woodFire woodFire wood

It is amazing that such a large population can gather so much wood from an apparently difficult environment, without there seeming to be any risk to the resource itself.
walk, along flat, well-paved ground and in very warm conditions (for us), maybe 25 degrees or so. On the way we saw some adobe houses, also many more modern traditional houses, also beautifully cultivated fields. We were particularly pleased to come across a croft which had taken to breeding camels, one step up from alpacas. Our little trio did attract plenty of attention, and at one stage a person accompanied us for quite a long distance, although he was quite heavily dressed and probably had not intended to join us.

Eventually he called a colleague, who kindly hastened after us to catch up, despite the heat. It turned out that the places we wanted to visit were closed and that certain hazards lay ahead, but it was a great day and we were happy enough to ramble back by another route. This brought us past a large and very impressive cemetery; by this stage photography was no longer possible but it did appear that many of the inhumations are in a lengthy pre-built sepulchre, with each section (presumably) being walled up progressively. If so, it would seem to be a continuation of a practice going back at least 1,000 years in this vicinity. Our ramble continued, and we were at one stage offered a lift back into town; everyone was very helpful and we were given a special telephone number to call if we encountered ANY sort of difficulty. By chance, when we were eventually back in town and trying to get a late lunch, that telephone number proved very helpful in resolving a misunderstanding.

Lunch was good (we went back to the Chinese restaurant) and then we were able to go direct to the bus station; it seems there is a bus at 10.00 am tomorrow, to reach Ruoqiang at 5pm (196 miles). We have our doubts, but we intend to give it a whirl. Dinner, after a wee stroll about town, was in a seriously top range establishment, I will add a picture of its card; it is upstairs – leave Yudu hotel, walk across the road and straight ahead to the corner, then plunge into a staircase on your left, it is on the 1st floor as we know it (one stage above the ground). Really good, really smart, splendid design – and, by chance, a brilliant local Chinese wine – all I can do
Chinese traditional lionChinese traditional lionChinese traditional lion

These are everywhere, goodness knows what they must cost. The all have a free-rolling large ball in their growling mouths, a ball that looks perfect and seemingly had to be carved in situ.
is to add the barcode. The wine was not cheap (about 350 Rmb) but one of the best, although wildly outside of our normal price range.
All in all, a memorable day in Qiemo.

Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


Seriously good red wineSeriously good red wine
Seriously good red wine

I intend to look this up, when I get back to using Mr. G.
Very nice Chinese restaurant, QiemoVery nice Chinese restaurant, Qiemo
Very nice Chinese restaurant, Qiemo

The Yudu Hotel is good, this restaurant nearby, meals inexpensive and normal range wines and beers are also on offer. Both establishments have good housekeeping standards.

14th March 2018

You wrote "It turned out that the places we wanted to visit were closed". Do you know if the Toghraklek Manor is definitively closed or is it a refection period, or is it the weekly closure day (I would have imagine a Monday, not a Thursday)? Thank you in advance for your answer, which may be useful for my trip preparation. Fabrice
15th March 2018

Was the Manor closed?
I personally suspect that it may simply have been that the police wanted to discourage us. They had made it very difficult and eventually one of them walked with us, but after a couple of km he was very hot and could not easily keep up. My advice is: do not walk out to the manor, take a taxi; that might work, but be prepared for a great deal of difficulty. The authorities were extremely strict, but it was early in the season and they might relax a bit later on.
19th March 2018

Toghraklek Manor visit
From what I've been reading on this subject, the Manor is closed normally (visits are rare), and you need to enter first the museum at Cherchen. Someone with the key will go with you (by taxi) to the Manor and make the visit possible.
20th March 2018

Yes, we had read something like that; in fact the key is supposed to be available at the manor for the second place. The main point is that the police are hyper-sensitive, it is very much less tourist friendly than can be usefully described here. If you can get a non-Uighir taxi it might be best; or possibly hire a CITS guide. Any normal behaviour is really not acceptable (or was not when we were there a fortnight ago.... maybe the national congress meeting was a factor?
27th March 2018

So grateful
Many thanks Roz and Chris - without you, this amazing trip could never have been so much fun, thank you. We miss everyone, especially Lola, but hope to enjoy our final 10 days. Are in luxurious hotel just now, off to see terracotta warriors tomorrow - all love xx

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