“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
Day 08: 29 May 2013
URUMCHI - KASHGAR
|(The city view from our hotel room)|
Urumchi is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the northwest of China. Urumchi was a major hub on the Silk Road during China's Tang Dynasty, and developed its reputation as a leading cultural and commercial center during the Qing Dynasty. Urumchi, whose name means ‘beautiful pasture’ in the Mongolian language of the Dzungar people, is the largest city in China's western interior.
|(The Tianshan Mountain Range)|
Urumchi has developed economically and now serves as a regional transport node, cultural, and commercial centre. Urumchi has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world. It is about 2,500 km from the nearest coastline.
|(The entrance to Tianchi National Geopark)|
|(A herd of sheep crossing the road)|
Breakfast was early. This morning excursion took us to the Heavenly Lake, located to the east of the Tianshan Mountain range, in the north of Bogda Peak, 97 km south of Urumchi. The tour bus sent us to the entrance complex at the foot of the Tianshan Mountain where we bought the entrance tickets. Going up the mountain, we were transported by a CNG-powered bus.
|(A warm reception with songs and music)|
|(Pretty young dancers)|
|(Tents in the wood)|
On the way, we stopped for an optional tour of a Khazakh Yurt village to allow us to see the nomadic life of Kazakhs in the mountains. We visited the small community there and were entertained with beautiful folk songs and dances. Some of us bought Khazakh’s colorful handicrafts for souvenirs. We had fun trying out their traditional costumes for photo shots and it’s for free. Later we were served with salty milk tea, a traditional Khazak’s drink, a taste to be acquired.
|(Adorning Kazakh’s colorful costumes)|
|(Vibrant colors of Kazakh's handicrafts)|
Half way up to the lake we had to again change transport mode by riding on a battery-powered buggy. I really respect their efforts to preserve the environment and avoid pollution by using CNG and battery-powered vehicles. The ascending road is winding and steep and the scenic view is picturesque. The beautiful Heavenly Lake is situated 1,910 meters above sea level, with an average depth of 60 meters.
|(Battery powered buggies)|
|(A first glimpse of the lake)|
The lake is a natural and typical alpine lake, which is 3,400 meters long and 1,500 meters wide, occupying an area of 4.9 sq km. The lake forms a crescent shape and the water is cool, crisp and clear. Surrounded by mountains, verdant forest and assorted flora and fauna, Heavenly Lake is rightly regarded as a jewel in the crown of Tianshan Mountain.
|(Heavenly Lake, breathtaking and tranquil)|
|(On a cruise ship)|
Heavenly Lake doubles as an equally ideal and appealing summer and winter alpine resort, and many athletes can be found here-especially during winter months-as they gather for training and competition. We had the opportunity to ride on a cruise boat across the lake. If we come during winter the lake water could be frozen!
|(Photo shot at vantage point)|
We had lunch at the base of the mountain and later we were transferred to Urumchi Airport for the 18:20 domestic flight to Kashgar. We had to wait quite a while to check in. At the boarding gate there was a long queue as passengers had to go through a thorough security screening, removing shoes and belts and even head scarves for the ladies. It was reported that all Xingjian airports boosts security checks after foiled high-jacking in 2012.
We arrived in Kashgar around 20:40 and were met by Yusuf, our tour guide in Kashgar. We had a late dinner at Miran Restaurant before we checked-in Yin Rui Lin International Hotel for the night.