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Top 10 Travel Destinations Xinjiang

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24 travelers at this place

  • Day12

    Cold, yes.

    December 6, 2019 in China ⋅ ☁️ -2 °C

    Today was officially cold.
    Another ruined city, the Flaming Mountains (misnomer on both parts) and a small village which produces some of the raisins and sultanas which the region is known for. They are dried in buildings like the one pictured.
    Tomorrow we fly to Urumqi.
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  • Day15

    Flamin' heck!

    May 30, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    With temperatures in the mid-30s it seemed crazy to be heading to the rather ominous-sounding Flaming Mountains, also home to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha caves - another Buddhist monastery carved into the mountainside.

    Famous as a place where eggs can be baked in the sand, the Flaming Mountains proved to be spectacular but more for their size than their colour (or perhaps we'd been spoilt by the Rainbow Mountains?). An impossibly steep pathway reached to the mountain top, while the way down appeared to be facilitated by way of a slide - clever thinking!

    The Bezelklik caves, once decorated lavishly in much the same way as the more extensive Mogao Caves, had suffered at the hands of European and Japanese explorers, with statues and entire frescoes having been removed to far-away museums. As with all of the Buddhist monasteries we'd visited, it proved to be a place of tranquility and contemplation, even with a horde of Chinese tourists waving flags and sporting matching white outfits with orange caps!

    A 20 minute walk to visit Imin Ta turned into an hour-long slog in the uncomfortable heat. But it did give us a bit more of a look at the Muslim section of town. Constructed in 1778, the beautifully decorated minaret rises like a chimney beside the mosque. Clever brickwork creates a complex pattern that contrasts with the plainer mosque. Solemn cradle-like unmarked tombs formed rows in an adjacent cemetery.

    A quick trip to the impressive museum, complete with a rather gruesome but nonetheless fascinating collection of mummies excavated during highway construction, then it was back to the station for our final overnight train to Kashgar.
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  • Day14


    May 29, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    The oasis city of Turpan is located in the region of Xinjiang. Sharing borders with 8 countries, the region is primarily desert and grassland, fringed by some of the largest mountains in the world. Oasis towns are scattered along the Silk Road that skirts the northern and southern edges of the Taklamakan Desert.

    The predominance of "minority" ethnic groups (and especially the Uighur people) resulted, in 1955, in the declaration of the region as the Uigher Autonomous Region. The 15 police stations we observed on the 30 minute journey from the train station to our hotel reminded us, however, that we were still very much in China. Indeed it was rather disturbing to see police walking around the streets in full riot gear, as if this was a normal part of life.

    Turpan itself lies in the Turpan depression - one of the lowest points on earth. This was really the first place where we'd seen the influence of the Silk Road on ethnic diversity, with street and shop signs written in both Chinese and Arabic. The local people, their faces, their food, the architecture - all reflected the long history of the Uighur in this region. And of course there was plenty of lamb (and no pork)!

    The Jiaohe city ruins lie a short distance from the city centre. Founded as an administrative centre and garrison town by the Chinese in the 2nd century BC, it came under the influence of the Uighur people in the 6th century. While mostly comprised of ruins, it is still possible to appreciate the complexity and especially the building methods used to create this impressive place. Located on a steep plateau, many of the structures were created by digging down into the rock (rather than building on top) - a mammoth task! At its peak it supported about 700 households, mainly Buddhist Uighurs.

    Turpan is famous for its grape growing. Grape vines are everywhere, as is a great variety of fruit and vegetables. Grapes are dried in specially designed rooms, often located above houses. The area is truly an oasis and a complex aqueduct and irrigation system (known as a karez) supplies much-needed water to support the extensive agriculture we observed. There was some debate about the origin of the system, and perhaps this is a good example of the success of the Silk Road.

    The influence of the Turkic culture was also evident at our lunch at a local winery, where we were entertained with dancers in fabulous costumes. How they managed these energetic activities in 30+ degrees escaped us! Luckily there was plenty of local beer for us to quench our thirst.
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  • Day17

    Kashgar markets

    June 1, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    As the meeting point of the northern and southern Silk Roads and the gateway to the west, Kashgar was once a place of great significance. Established as a Chinese garrison in AD 78, the city didn't become part of the Chinese empire until the 18th century. Entering this city felt very much like entering a new country and our poor Chinese group leader William struggled at times to communicate with the locals!

    Our prime reason for visiting Kashgar was to visit the bazaar and the now separately located livestock market.

    Packed with Uighur men (and the occasional woman), the livestock market buzzes with the sounds of humans and animals alike. Fat-tailed sheep, super cute goats, donkeys, horses and cattle compete for the attention of would-be buyers. You didn't need to understand the language to see when the relative merits of an animal (or herd) were being discussed or when deals were being made. A handshake, a quick smile - all done! Animals are transported on anything from serious cattle trucks to motor scooters and even the odd donkey cart. And of course as largely a food animal market, there are plenty of opportunities to sample the potential goods!

    In contrast, the bazaar is the place to buy just about anything else. From stockings to large pots to medicinal herbs to brocade curtains, this is where the locals shop. Mind you, other than watermelon to quench our thirst in the sweltering heat, we resisted the temptation to add to our souvenir collection, preferring instead to pace our purchasing across the 3 additional countries on our schedule.
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  • Day17

    Islamic influences

    June 1, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    A large statue of Chairman Mao dominates Kashgar's physical city centre. However, it would seem that the Ida Kah Mosque provides it's spiritual centre. One of the largest mosques in China, it was probably built in 1738 but apparently stands on the site of a smaller, 15th century mosque. With a definite Central Asian, rather than Chinese, architectural style, the mosque was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution. Our visit was a reminder to me of the tragedy in Christchurch. The denigration of such a tranquil and contemplative place belies belief.

    According to our guide book, Islam arrived in China around the 9th century, about 200 years after Arab sailors landed in southern China. There are now more than 13 million Muslims in China, concentrated in the Xinjiang province in north western China (including Uighur, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Tatars and Uzbeks), as well as Chinese speaking Hui, who are scattered around the country. Islam became dominant in the Xinjiang region by the 15th century and Kashgar became an important Islamic centre.

    It was here that we also learnt from our guide that the entrance price for tourist attractions in China generally reflects the age of said attraction (price increases with age)!

    The Aba Khoja Mausoleum is another must-see on the Kashgar tourist trail. Considered one of the best examples of Islamic architecture in China, the mausoleum is the burial place of the family of Aba Khoja, a celebrated Islamic missionary. Built in the 17th century it retains much of its original tiling. Exquisite colours - blue, green, orange - adorn the exterior. Inside, blue-glazed tiles decorate the cradle-shaped tombs of family members. Tiny tombs tell sad stories of young ones lost.

    The mausoleum is also known as Xiangfei's Tomb. Xiangfei (or Ikparhan as she was known) was a descendant of Aba Khoja and had been forced to become the concubine of the Chinese Emperor. Depending on which story you believe, she refused to submit to the dastardly fellow and was either murdered or committed suicide. Or she may have lived to old age. Regardless, the story goes that after she died she continued to smell as sweetly fragrant as she did when alive, and so became known as the Fragrant Concubine. Two coffins were used to transport her from Bejing to her home in Kashgar, with one being constantly filled with fresh roses to maintain her perfumed state. Apparently it took 3 years for the journey. I feel sorry for the poor fellows charged with refreshing the roses around her rotting body!

    A nearby Friday (or Juma) mosque offered more insight into the Muslim world. Individually carved pillars detailed beautiful floral emblems and are considered amongst the finest examples of Uighur wood culture.

    Kashgar is a city of old and new and we spent time exploring the older parts of town that had undergone restoration to enhance their old world charm. A short distance from the main street and you entered a world of children playing in shared courtyards, old men and women sharing stories perched on tiny chairs, colorful doorways and ornate detailing. A wonderful contrast to the constant noise, the dusty air and the human shuffle.
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  • Day10

    Turfan (Tulufan)

    December 4, 2019 in China ⋅ ☁️ -9 °C

    Leaving our lovely guide Amy, fast train and modern hotel with SOFT bed and tasty dinner.

  • Day35


    March 22, 2015 in China ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Turpan - death valley of China. At night it is freezing cold but by day the weather rivals that of a hot British August afternoon. I arrived at the train station after another overnight train to a mob of men shouting aggressively 'Tulufana, Tulafana!', which in is the local word for Turpan. The province of xinjiang (where the rest of my time in China will be spent) is home to a minority called Uyghur, part of the Turkic ethnic group. They speak Turkic based language and they write in Arabic script. They are very conservative muslims so the women wear headscarfs and the men muslim hats. They don't look Chinese; more Turkish or middle eastern. It is a strange sight.
    I picked a taxi driver from the crowd and waited 45 minutes for the car to fill with other passengers... This involved doing some mainies of the station road shouting 'Tulufana!' out of the window. The landscape is grey and desolate. It is nearly 9am and the sun is only just rising; the whole of China works officially to Beijing time but over here they have 'local time', two hours behind to account for the discrepancy with the sun's movements. It makes organising events a tad confusing.
    I hired a bike from the hostel (where I was the only guest) and set off to explore the old parts of town. Due to the arrid climate of Turpan, houses are made of mud and ancient ruins can be found all over. The streets are lined with people baking naan bread, frying samsas (meat dumplings) and carving up animal meat which hangs off racks. Mosques are everywhere. The best part of cycling round the town, however, was admiring the ornate gates of peoples' houses, hiding a secret world of courtyards. They were fascinating; bright colours, intricate patterns and floral carvings.
    Late afternoon I went to the Emin Minaret. I was a little peeved at the $9 entry fee but when I went in there was a festival taking place. Turpan is known for growing lots of grapes and during winter they bury them underground. Today was the day they dug them up and it was heralded with traditional music and dance. I was in my element as I absorbed the thunderous drumming and shrill cry of the shawm-like instrument. One of the dancers dragged me up to join in. I guess that's what happens when you're the only white person in town...
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  • Day91

    Animal market in Kashgar

    August 12, 2018 in China ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Wir kalkulieren immer noch in Peking Zeit, obwohl wir bereits die erste offizielle Zeitverschiebung haben. Die lokale Bevölkerung spricht Chinesisch nur als Zweitsprache, was die Kommunikation selbst für LJ schwierig macht. Die Gesichtszüge der Menschen weisen auch nicht mehr darauf hin, dass wir immer noch in China sind. Um 10:30 (Peking Zeit) fahren wir im truck zum Markt. Dieser „animal market in Kashgar“* soll der größte in ganz Zentralasien sein. Deshalb widme ich dem einen eigenen Footprint. Fazit: der „animal market” war wirklich sensationell und eines der großen Highlights unserer ganzen Reise. Hier hört China auf und der Zentralasien mit seiner vorwiegend islamischen Prägung beginnt.

    Sunday Livestock Market: No visit to Kashgar is complete without a trip to the *Livestock Market, which takes place once a week on Sunday. The day begins with Uyghur farmers and herders trekking into the city from nearby villages. By lunchtime, just about every saleable sheep, camel, horse, cow and donkey within 50km has been squeezed through the bazaar gates. It’s dusty, smelly and crowded, and most people find it wonderful, though some visitors may find the treatment of the animals upsetting. Trading at the market is swift and boisterous between the old traders; animals are carefully inspected and haggling is done with finger motions. Keep an ear out for the phrase ‘Bosh-bosh!’ (‘Coming through!’) or you risk being ploughed over by a cartload of fat-tailed sheep. A few simple stalls offer delicious hot samsa (lamb meat buns) if you get peckish.

    Editiert am 04.01.2019
    Text von Wolfgang
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, Xinjiang, Région autonome de Xinjiang, Xinjiang Uyghur Zizhiqu, 新疆

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