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Published: November 25th 2010
TURPAN 150m below sea level
14/8/10: We caught the bus back to Urumqi at 11:00am. It was going to be another 24+hour hot and sweaty bus journey back to Urumqi, the bus companies are too tight too use the A.C. We both listened to audio books.
We arrived at Urumqi around 12:00 midday. We quickly brought another bus ticket to Turpan getting on the bus within minutes. The bus took two hours to reach Turpan. Straight off the bus we were approached by a guy that runs day trips. We took a card anyway uninterested in the day trip that cost 80yuan each for a full day. We tried to get a room in the Turpan hotel, this was supposed to be the cheapest option. We asked how much a room was, knowing that another fellow traveler stayed for 70yuan/night in a private room. They said 200yuan, we explained how our friend stayed here for 70yuan only five days prior, they didn't believe us even though it was true. We asked if they had dorms they said yes, we then asked how much the dorm was, they said 50yuan each, we knew we didn't want to stay in their
dorms as we had heard somewhere that they weren’t very nice. We tossed around a few idea and asked them if they had anything else available that was better than a dorm or cheaper than a double room or did they know of another hotel close by that was also cheap. They only knew of one hotel, she gave directions simultaneously pointing to the left but said to go right, I went for a walk while Jacinta waited at the reception. I came back 10min later without finding the hotel. We conceded to a dorm, we asked if we could look at the dorm first. If the dorms were bad we could always stay at another hotel that charged 120yuan/night for a private room back at the bus station. She replied “the dorms are full.” She said this with the most stupid look on her face. See the one question I forgot to ask when I said “do you have a dorm?” was “is there beds available in that dorm?” Anyone in their right mind would assume you didn’t have to ask this question as it would automatically be answered, but not in this situation. I raised my arms and
shrugged my shoulder saying that information might have been handy when we first asked, she just looked at me with that same stupid look. I dropped my hands with a slap shaking my head as I walked away. I wasn't in the mood for anyone wasting my time, I was tired and wanted to wash the sweat and dust off from the bus trip. We walked back to the bus station instead of catching a taxi, it was only 1km away and that walk did us good. We checked into the other hotel next to the bus stop and had a nice hot shower to wash away the grime. Accommodation was to expensive to hang around in this town so we accepted the day tour for 80yuan each that would take us to all the attractions in one day and then catch the bus back to Uramuqi where we would recharge our batteries for 6days. We hit the markets late in the afternoon, we bought some ruby red tomatoes an onion and some hot freshly baked bread. This was our dinner and it was the greatest thing that had happened on this day.
16/8/10: We checked out of our room
and left our bags with reception. We were picked up by a van at 8:30 on the dot. That's the one thing I like about the Chinese they are on time. I can’t remember the first sight we visited because we didn't go in, nor did the other 7 Chinese in our group. Instead we climbed up the desert sandy hill and looked down onto the attraction. The old village was in a valley that had a stream running beside it. This was the only way anything would be able to survive out here as it literally is in one of the driest desert. The eroded hills made for interesting colours and landscapes.
The next attraction was only 500m away and resemble something out of a theme park than a ancient cultural attraction. After this we drove 20min to a mountain called Flaming Mountain, this was a mountain void of vegetation with eroded closely packed valleys and ridges steaming vertically. It was supposed to resemble a mountain on fire, the red earth help to play an illusion on ones eyes. The entrance fee was 40yuan/ person. The mountain was right beside the highway and it was just another attempt by
the Chinese to turn nature into a tourist attraction. We walked 40m back onto the highway and 40m away from the entrance and took photos. There were other attractions inside the building that we weren’t really interested in, in fact we really weren’t interested in anything these days, the grip of travelers fatigue still did not let up.
We waited for the others to regroup before heading into a desert oasis another 20min away. This was where they grew most of the grapes in Turpan. It was so green and lush, the ominous desert mountains threaten to engulf the vineyards, some were cliff faces that separated a direct line between life giving greenery on one side deathly dry arid desert on the other. The further we drove in the more lush it got, there was a maze of canals that were the life blood the vineyards. The temperature dropped by a good 5deg Celsius making it comfortable 42C. It was a dry heat and even I was surprised at how hot it was when I looked at my thermometer. We had lunch, the driver said to be back in one hour. We sat under the grape vines and waited to
go. Even though the Chinese are usually on time one family decided to test this by being spending twos for lunch instead of one. The bus driver looked for them and finally gave up. We were happy to leave them behind but just before we drove out the gate they saw us and came running. I would rather had left them behind to teach them a lesson.
We then drove to another ancient village, this also looked uninteresting so we chose not to go in. The main attraction we wanted to go into was the Ancient City of Jiahoe. This was a huge clay city around 2000years old. A lot of the city was in ruins and it was the first thing I have seen in China that hasn't been done up or rebuilt to please the tourist eye. It was in its original state apart from the footpaths and barriers to stop people climbing them. I don't know to much about the Jiahoe City, if we had seen it 3 months ago I would be able to tell you all about the culture, but at this point in time I’m just having trouble keeping up with my blogs. We
finished our day tour back where we started. We bought a bus ticket to Uramuqi and 2.5hrs later checked back into the Silver Birches hostel.
17/8/10- 20/8/10: We did nothing accept eat sleep and internet. It was great. We were still tired after this huge rest. What is wrong with us?
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