“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough...” - Oprah Winfrey.
Day 07: 28 May 2013
TURPAN – URUMCHI.
|(A man-made lake next to the hotel)|
After breakfast, we took a short walk to the man-made recreational lake next to our hotel to snap some photos. We checked out around 09:00 and first place to visit was the Emin Minaret also known as Sugong Pagoda and also a mosque, completed in 1778. Situated 6 km southeast of Turpan City, it is the largest ancient Islamic tower in Xinjiang Province.
|(The Sugong Minaret and us)|
The architectural style of the pagoda displays both Uyghur and Han characteristics. It stands 37 meters high and 72 flights of stairs curl around the center leading to the top. The pagoda's body was built of brick and wood but it also contains beautiful carvings in various patterns of Uyghur traditional design, which makes the pagoda quite unique among the hundreds of pagodas in China.
|(Entrances to various chambers)|
|(Peeping through the entrance)|
|(The main prayer hall)|
At different levels on the body of the pagoda there are about 14 windows facing different directions. At the top, there is an observation room with four windows on each side of the room so that visitors can get a complete view of Turpan city.
|(The entrance to the Karez Museum)|
|(Vibrant blue wall decorating the walkway)|
|(The Grape Tower)|
|(The Karez Museum)|
|(A model brick wall for grapes drying house)|
Our next destination was Turpan Karez Paradise. The Karez Well is a unique irrigation systems made up of vertical wells, underground water system invented and built by ancient farmers from the various ethnic minorities of Turpan. This irrigation system is considered to be one of the three great ancient projects in China along with the Great Wall and Grand Beijing-Hangzhou Canal. The Karez well system consists of four parts: perpendicular wells, subterranean channels, above-ground channels and small pools.
|(Underground water drain)|
There are altogether 1100-odd Karez wells and the channels have a total length of over 5000 km in Turpan alone. The oldest Karez well is the Tuer Karez Well located in Zhuangzi village, Qiateka town, which has been used for over 470 years. We also had the opportunity to visit a model drying house for drying grapes into raisins.
|(An arm-wrestling contest with the iron-man)|
After lunch we started our 3-hour journey to Urumchi which is 180 km away. We passed 50 km of Gobi Desert before we crossed the Tianshan Mountain range. On the way, we passed the green grassland pasture, a salt lake and a fresh water lake. We also passed the largest Wind Farm in China and had glimpses of the wondering wild camels.
|(Unique graveyards in the desert)|
|(The salt lake)|
|(A wind mill and Tianshan Mountain beyond)|
|(Wondering skinny wild camels)|
We reached Urumchi late afternoon and performed our prayers in a mosque next to The International Grand Bazaar of Urumchi. The Grand Bazaar is one of Xinjiang’s main places of interest. With a total area of 100,000 sq meters, it is the largest bazaar in the world.
|(The mosque next to the Grand Bazaar)|
|(The spacious praying hall)|
Built in the traditional Muslim style, the buildings show distinctive ethnic and folk culture, such as No.1 Sightseeing Tower, Erdaoqiao Mosque, Banquet-Performance Grand Theatre, Merry Square and Sunny Pedestrian Street.
|(The Grand Bazaar, The Watch Tower and the Mosque)|
|(Shopping inside the Grand Bazaar)|
|(Raisins, nuts and spices).|
The Grand Bazaar has drawn widespread praise, winning such awards as ‘New Top Ten Landscapes of Urumchi’. The Grand Bazaar is also an artistic palace, housing various ethnic cultural relics including those of the Han, Uyghur, Hui and Khazak peoples. It brings together the arts of song and dance in Xinjiang, as well as Chinese food culture.
|(Sweet winter melons)|
|(Varieties of nan bread)|
Tonight we had pilaf dinner at one of the Muslim restaurants. The pilaf dish is equivalent to our briani rice cooked with chunks of meat. As usual, we still had our favorite lamb kebabs to go with the pilaf. After dinner we checked-in the Mirage Hotel for the night.
|(The spacious Hotel Suite)|