Sit down, please

Urumqi Travel Blog

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There is, apparently, no town in the world further from the sea than Urumqi, plonked in the middle of Asia fourteen hundred miles from the Arctic Ocean or the Bay of Bengal or the Sea of Japan. Huge, cosmopolitan place, one direct train away from Kazakhstan - Chinese and Arabic and Latin and Cyrillic on the signs. (I spent much of my time there looking for a sign with all four scripts on, but no luck.)

Never did get my bearings. My bus from Turpan dropped me at about half seven in the evening in the middle of BFN. I stopped for noodle soup and mutton barbecue at some stall with a lot of outdoor seating in a garden. "Sit down please," said a little girl, so I did. I think that was the only English she knew. She spent the next twenty minutes running around chanting, "Sit down please, sit down please..."

It was eleven o'clock or so before i got to the hostel I wanted to stay at. I'd been contemplating a night awake in an internet cafe - hadn't had one of those since Xining - but I finally found someone whose English was good enough to translate the address I wanted into Chinese. Taxi to hostel. Bed. Everywhere I went in Urumqi (other than the Carrefour down the road), I got taxis. The place was huge, sprawling, and the LP map was worse than useless.

There wasn't much to do in the city, just the Xinjiang Provincial Museum which diverted me for about an hour. The best thing about that was its determinated portrayal of Xinjiang province as one big happy family, with lots and lots of different ethnicities coexisting peacefully in a glorious multinational patchwork. Meanwhile, your chocolate rations will fall tomorrow to 25g a day. Yes, that's right, your chocolate rations will rise to 25g a day!

Uighurs unbellyfeel doublethink.

Also Urumqi, I bought myself a new camera. And it's a hell of a lot better than the piece of Samsung crap I had nicked in Zhangye. Woo!
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photo by: AndySD