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Published: December 12th 2010
A Sheep for the Guests in the Mountains of Yining County, Xinjiang
When special guests are expected, the Uighurs, Kazaks, Tartars, Uzbeks and Tajiks, who inhabit Xinjiang, China's most western Province, will butcher a sheep to honor the visitors. In fact, on this day, 2 sheep gave up their lifes in our honor. Though I have witnessed the butchering of our house-pigs during my childhood in Germany, it was a difficult thing to watch their martyrdom, and I had a very guilty feeling for days to come. More photos of the process are attached below, though they may not be for the squeamish.
I have been able to recover one of my lost TravelBlogs, an entry I had prepared for publication many months ago. So as not to confuse this journey to the West of China two summers ago (2009) with last summers travels (2010), this 2009 journey was an official visit by the administration of Taizhou Teachers College to our Sister College in Yining, Xinjiang, in the far North-West corners of China.
Gratefully, I had been invited as part of the visiting delegation, as it was a more structured and organized visit to the city of Yining, on the border of Kazakhstan. I hope you enjoy the 124 photos of this exciting journey to a part of China, few foreign visitors have to privilege to experience.
For my vegetarian friends, and those, who are a more sensitive to the slaughter of domestic animals, please take note, that some of the photos below may cause you some anxious moments. But in this region of some of China's great Muslim minority groups, this is part of their daily life.
So this is Part 4, the last of the entries, highlighting my exciting visit along the Silk Road in the North West
My Fellow Travelers in Xinjiang
The administration of Taizhou Teachers College made me a part of the delegation, visiting our Sister College in Yining, Xinjiang. It was to become one of the most exciting journeys during my time in China.
of China during the Summer of "2009". The flight carried us across the expanse of China, from Shanghai to the small city of Yining, on the border of Kazakhstan.
Yining is a small (pop. 200,000) but pleasant and friendly city, with tree-lined streets, and is the capital city of the Yili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, about 400 miles to the West of Urumqi. It is located in a green river valley (the Yili River) in the very far North-West of China in the Autonomous Region known as Xinjiang.
Yining's access is made possible only by a small airport and some difficult roads, across deserts and steep mountains. There is no railway connection to other parts of the region. The border of Kazakhstan is only a short car-drive to the West of Yining.
The Russians have had a serious influence on this former transit point on the northern branch of the Silk Road. It was occupied by the Russians in 1872 and was then known as Kashgaria. During the period of Sino-Soviet friendship in the 1950's, a number of Russians resided here.
In the early 1960's, relations between China and the USSR broke down and there were violent
Lunch inside the traditional Kazakh Yurt
The sheep has become our lunch. "Talking about fresh meat"!
border clashes along the Ili River between Russia's and China's military.
In more recent history, Yining has been a hot-bed of unrest among the Uighur Muslim Minority, and the violence and the killing of almost 200 Han-Chinese during a 2 day period has been covered by the international news media extensively.
This region of China has been a troubled area for centuries , and continues to cause headaches for the central government in Beijing, which keeps a close eye on the activities of the local Uighurs. The strain and clash of cultures, tradions, and religions have echoed across this exotic mountenous and desert geography for many centuries, and the stark terrain once sheltered the great cultures of the Chinese Dynasties from the civilizations and the expansion of the empires to the West and North.
Ancient roads and precarious trails cross Xinjiang and these have served as the crossroad between East and West for times unknown. All of them connect to the "Historical Super-Highway of the Past", now known as the fabled "Silk Road", the ancient link between East and West.
Xinjiang Autonomous Region occupies a huge area in the North-west of China, and its size could
I did like the scewers of mutton-meat, but the image of a sheep did not leave my head.
AS soon I as finished one, another was handed me. But I did love the special bread and butter and those delicious, sweet grapes.
swallow many of the European countries. It is about 17 percent of China's total area and is the largest in land area among China's provincial regions, with a population of 20 million. Its terrain is so precarious and forboding, that it must have cost the lifes of many past pilgrims and merchants, who dared travel its length, as the climate wallows in extremes.
Known as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, it is located at the border area of Northwest China and opens its borders to Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the disputed Kashmir region of Pakistan and India. It is a region with the longest border line among the provincial regions, about 3,400 miles.
Of all the regions of China I have visited, Xinjiang has captured my great interest and much of my imagination. My journey through the region stays with me, and is often on my mind. It is a place that my heart repeatedly tells me to explore some more, and I did so again during this past summer, 2010.
The journey to Yining, Xinjiang was arranged by my kind friend, Arthur, and we became a group of seven, all collegues from Taizhou Teachers
The White Mountain Range near the border of Kazakhstan.
The drive through Yining County takes us through stunning scenery and lets me share some of the life of the Nomads, who inhabit this region.
College, headed by College President, Mr. Xu. One of the "Sister Schools" of Taizhou Teachers College is the Teachers College of Yining, and an exchange visit was being prepared between our two schools, and lucky me, I was invited.
The flight would take me from the very East of China, Shanghai to the the furtest borders in the North-West of China, Yining, Xinjiang. It was such an exciting thought, to be able to visit one of the most exotic regions of this vast and diverse country, and all the planning had been done for me. My only job was to enjoy! Thank you, Arthur.
We departed from Shanghai and changed planes in Yinchuan, Ningxia for a further flight to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang. From there, a prop-plane ferried us, thousands of feet above the Silk Road, to the small airport in Yining.
*****Dozens of these regional airports are being built across China, including now in my city of Taizhou. It is simply amazing the scale and the type of infra-structure near completion or under constructon, which continues to improve and connect even the furthest and most remote parts of this vast and diverse country.
Around Yining, Xinjiang and Yining County life has changed little.
Their Nomadic Life brings this Kazakh family into the mountains, surrounding the beautiful city of Yining in the far North-West of China. Here they will tend to their flocks of sheep and cows, as they graze. As the cold of winter arrives, they will return to their home in the valley. Please note the white balls of delicious cheese ripening on the roof of the "kitchen".
Airports are being expandet with some of the most modern new terminals, and dozens, modern, regional airports are under construction or completed, including the new airport near Taizhou, my home.
2. Super-Highway- and incredible Bridge- Construction is everywhere, and continues to increase the scope of an already exiting and extensive highway- net. (You will see some photos on some of the superhighways constructed in Xinjiang below.)
3. The "hight-speed" train-network, that is being constructed, would be the envy of any developed country. It's technology is under contract now with GE and the Chinese Techonology is beging exported to California, Turkey and other places around the world.
Super sleak trains are already beginning to travel great distances and reach speeds beyond 350 km per hour. At these speeds, the landscape of China passes as in a dream.
More Information about High Speed Train Travel in China:
China already has the world's largest high-speed rail network in service, much are rail-lines with top speeds of 350 km (220 mi). With generous funding from the Chinese government's economic stimulus program, 17,000 kilometers (11,000 mi) of high-speed lines are now under construction, with plans for a total network of
This sweet girl just wanted to pose.
We could not communicate, but she showed me her interest by posing for me. There are additional photos below.
50,000 kilometers (31,000 mi) by 2020. China's high speed train use a wide range of domestic and imported technologies from Germany, Canada, France, Japan, and Sweden. (USA is conspicuously absent ?)
The huge city of Wuhan, Shaanxi now connects to the mega-city of Guangzhou, 1,100km (700 mi) away, in 3 hours. The journey took at least 11 hours. The new train is called the Harmony Express, and reached a top speed of 394 km (250 mi) per hour in pre-launch trials, and travelled at an average speed of 350 km (220 mi) per hour on its debut. This compared with a maximum service speed of 300 km (220 mi) per hour for Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains and France's TGV service. (In America, Amtra's Acela "Express" service takes 3 1/2 hours to stroll between Boston and New York, a distance of only 300 km. (200 mi)
I have been reading reports, the Chinese government spent $17 billion on the Harmony Express line's construction over 4 years. The city of Wuhan invested $2.5 billion in a new French-designed train station, which boasts 20 tracks and 11 platforms. Tickets cost $115 for first class, and $70 for second. The country's airlines
Shy Kazakh children in the mountains surrounding Yining, Xinjiang
Children are similar no matter the country, and a dripping nose is part of a childhood.
are slashing fares to compete.
In total, the railway ministry intends to complete at least 17,000 km (11,000 mi) of high-speed rail lines by 2012, allowing passengers to travel between most Chinese provincial capitals in 8 hours or less.
We were greeted at the Yining airport by city officials and administrators and teachers from our "sister-college", Yining Teachers College, and they were the greatest hosts. They surprised us with the wonderful experiences I am sharing with you in the photo-essay of this TravelBlog, with some 124 pictures.
Our travels around Yining County came under tight security all around the Province of Xinjiang. Weeks earlier in the summer of 2009, an orchestrated and bloody attack took the lifes of some 200 innocent Han Chinese, and security controls were set up everywhere. But that did not diminish my excitement, having the opportunity to visit one of the exotic regions of China.
The Friendship Hotel in Yining became our home, and from here, everyone made sure, that our visit and time in this city would be special. Much gratitude to all of our new friends in Yining Teachers College, for sharing their time and for their exhaustive
Somehow I envy this nomadic simpler life.
Throughhout the mountain regions of norther Xinjiang we pass the local Nomads in their traditional tents called Yurts. A horse seems never far away. It is a necessary means of transport and herding in this mountain region.
efforts, escorting us to many roads "less travelled".
I will let the next 124 photos speak for themselves. More than any words, these capture the story of my visit to the beautiful city of Yining and the surrounding areas in the North-West corner of Xinjiang, China during the summer of 2009.
Please enlarge the photos for their special details and for greater appreciation of this beautiful region of far west China. As always, your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions are appreciated, as they encourage me to continue to share with you my adventures in this amazing country. Thank YOU !!
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