Welcome to China's far Western region of Xinjiang. A place we were lucky enough to visit last week during the October holiday. It is safe to say that this is like no other place I've seen in China and I hope you learn something too and get inspired to visit this truly fascinating region.
Sightseeing. You're in for a treat!
Despite having only visited a tiny fraction of Xinjiang, my family and I were struck by its beauty and diversity. You can visit Swiss-like alpine lakes one day and feel like you're in the midst of an Indiana Jones movie set the next day. You can enjoy Chinese noodles at lunch and a lamb kebab with freshly baked naan for dinner.
The city of Kashgar in the far west is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Xinjiang. It is known for its old town, the hustle and bustle of its bazaars and livestock markets, and for various sights outside the city (such as the Mor buddhist pagoda). After this description, it may come as a surprise to you that we opted for the eastern past of Xinjiang. We decided to stay in the capital Urumqi mainly because of travel time and airfares - but also because I had my eyes set on two particular sights I wanted to visit:
Heavenly lake - or Tian chi - is an alpine lake. At 2200 metres above sea level, it is classified as the highest level scenic area in China. The site has undergone a recent multi-million restoration (providing, among other things, comfortable walking paths around the lake) and this place is the perfect spot for a day trip if you're staying in Urumqi. We found the Regional museum in Urumqi interesting and had a very nice, traditional Uyghyr dinner at "Miraj". But apart from that, we were not that impressed with the capital of Xinjiang. The area around Turpan was a whole different story. On our third day in Xinjiang, we set off on a day trip with a local Uygur guide and a (han Chinese) driver. It quickly became apparent that our programme was a bit too ambitious and we ended up feeling sorry for our exhausted driver - though he did not complain, Our "dream team" took us to some spectacular places - namely the Bezaklik Thousand Buddha Caves, the charming old village of Tuyoq, the majestic Flaming Mountains and the ancient city of Jiaohe. Should you decide to explore the Turpan area, I recommend that you stay at least one night in Turpan,
We only had 5 days in Xinjiang and I am sure I could have listed plenty of other famous sights if we had had time to explore them. Imagine how much time one would need to see all of France, Spain, Germany and Great Britain? Until next time. I am not done with Xinjiang.
Finally: enjoy some pictures
Inspiration and sources: Farwestchina.com, The Atlantic, South China Morning Post, Aljazeera.com,