Urumqi is the furthest city away from the sea in the world and is located near the geographical centre of the Asia continent. Surrounding the city is dry arid land as well as the famous Tianshan mountains.
Breathtaking views (One of the shots seen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon...the one where the guy from Xinjiang and the 'princess' are riding a horse together and riding down a lush hill overlooking a lake...that's Tianchi...and we rode up to that area from Rashit's yurt...) and exciting moments of crossing rivers and rocky paths in the mountains...
TIAN SHAN MOUNTAINS
This high mountains in the middle of Asia have always been a natural border. In between them and the Tibetan plateau passed the camels of the Silk Road. Also called theHeavenly Mountains, they offer landscapes of impressive beauty!
At the time of the Han dynasty, the Turpan oasis was a crucial point along the Northern Silk Road, and the cities of Jiaohe, and later Gaochang (both of whose ruins can be visited from Turpan), were important and wealthy centres of power. From the ninth to the thirteenth century, a rich intellectual and artistic culture developed in Gaochang, resulting from a fusion between the original Indo-European inhabitants and the (pre-Islamic) Uigurs. It was not until the fourteenth century that the Uigurs of Turpan converted to Islam
one fine day, take a bus in yellow color (no. 180) at southern main station..
This bus will direct you to a place call Heavenly lake; Tian Chi (“V’r), on the way there you may be able to see such Mogolian Tent.
visit the Grape Valley.....buy bags of raisins home..
an oasis located about 15km from the city centre of Turpan, an area synonymous with grapes. the valley is a world of unique beauty, a striking contrast to the hot, dry and barren outisde. here you'll find a world of green with brooks, canals, sparkling springs and lush grass and trees. the grapes, water melons and musk melons here are world famous.
Flaming Mountains (Huoyan Shan)
The Flaming Mountains are red sandstone hills on the northern edge of the Turpan Basin. The redness of the hills has been likened to burning flames and temperatures often reach a sweltering 55°C. The mountains were made famous in the 16th century Chinese classic novel 'Journey to the West' which describes Buddhist monk Xuan Zang's pilgrimage to India. In the novel the monk encounters a wall of flames, an apt description for these mountains, but is able to extinguish them with the help of the Monkey King.
The underground fresh water tunnels are claimed to be one of the greatest ancient contruction in China. The tunnels lead ice water from Tian Shan to hundred miles away - the hottest and driest place in China - Turpan.
The real highlights in Urumqi are the wonderful scenery in the nearby countryside, and the people - a rich and colorful array of nationalities inhabit this area allowing for a fascinating insight into as very different way of life than exists elsewhere in China.
The city itself is a pretty gray place, with huge ugly modern buildings dominating the skyline. The best area to explore is the Erdaoqiau district in the Uigur part of town. This is a great, lively district with a unique atmosphere. Restaurants and street traders spill their goods out onto the street and the market here is a great spot to pick up some Xinjiang souvenirs. The Minority Peoples' Museum is a fascinating place and even people not normally interested in traipsing round museums should be impressed.
The most spectacular sight of all in these parts, is Heaven's Lake. This is one of the most peaceful and pretty tourist spots in all of China. Snow-capped mountains, slopes covered with pine trees and a huge crystal clear lake make this spot special. Added to this, the friendly Kazakh families who set up camp here in the summer, and it is no surprise that the lake has been the source of inspiration for numerous writers and artists over the years. The Nanshan Grasslands are another slightly more remote spot, with some invigorating hiking and horseriding around the area. Swan Lake Nature reserve also has nice scenery and some rare wildlife.
Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Province. It is an industrial centre in the north-western part of China. The Yellow River(Huanghe)flows across the city and you can see from the photo why the river got its name.
The Flaming Mountain was formed in period of Himalayas orogenic movement, about 200,000,000 years ago. It lies across the middle of Turpan basin, stretches 100 km from east to west and within 10 km wide.The highest peak of the mountain is 851 metres above sea level. Most exposed stratums are gravel stone and red mudstone of Jurassic, Cretaceous and Tertiary periods.
No plant can be found on the mountain as the temperature of ground may reach 70 degrees celsius. Under the longtime sunshine, there are heat waves on the red rock and the mountain seems to be on fire. The book “Journey To The West” written by Wu Cheng En in Ming Dynasty described the adventures of monk Xuan Zang and the Monkey King on their way to Western Paradise for Buddhist Scriptures.When they got to the Flaming Mountain, the flame was 800 km long. This story made the mountain mystic and famous.
Tianshan Mountains and the Heavenly Lake(Tianchi)
Tianchi is one of the main tourist attraction and it is very very crowded especially at weekends.(Also the admission fee to Tianchi is terribly expensive---RMB60/person!!!I don’t think that’s worth of it.)You can take a boat ride on the lake, wander along the lake shore, horse riding or stay in one of the yurts for a night.(Be prepared that toilets are not available inside the yurt and you have to walk in the dark outside to find a toilet.)
Hundreds of caves with statues and frescoes describing the life and works of Buddha and his disciples. To get there you can take an hour’s speedy-boat ride from Liujiaxia(the big dam at the upper stream of the Yellow River)along the river to Binglingsi.
Abakh Khoja was thre ruler of Kashgar in the 17th century. All five generations of his family were buried within. Among those tombs the Xiangfei Tomb is the well-known one because there’s a legend about her. She was the grand-daughter of Abakh Khoja and concubine of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing period. She was called Xiangfei because of the delicate fragrance from her body. After her death her coffin was brought back to Kashgar(the trip took 3 years) and buried there.
Located in the centre of the city, is the largest mosque in China.The yellow and white structure has a central dome and flanking minarets, is much like mosques in Pakistan or Afghanistan. It will not be opened to travellers on Fridays.