AsiaChinaTurpan

One of the coolest places ever!

Turpan Travel Blog

 › entry 327 of 658 › view all entries
Muslim vendor cuts a watermelon, whilst a man pours liquid in the background

People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Hannes (Sweden), Portia (USA), Colin (Canada)

Normally when i board a sleeper train, i find out from the ticket collector what time we are due to arrive, so as i can be ready to get off the train. When we got on our train from Liuyuan at 22.30, all the lights in the cabin were already off, so i wasn't able to write down the necessary Chinese characters, to be able to obtain the answer that i required. To be honest, this normally isn't a problem, as the conductor wakes you up before your stop.

I had a rough idea in my head that the train would get into Daheyan after 07.00, so when i was woken at 05.20, i thought the conductor had woken me way too early, which they occasionally do by mistake, so I drifted back to sleep.

Goods for sale in the Turpan bazaar
At 05.45 i was shaken violently by the leg and the conductor was jabbering something in Chinese. I looked out of the window, saw that the train was at a station and realised that this meant we had a matter of seconds to get off before it departed. Julia and I grabbed our belongings as fast as our weary bodies would move and just managed to collapse off the train as the whistle blew for it to set off.

Hannes and Portia had been in different carriages to us and were waiting and wondering what the hell we had been playing at, which i was kind of wondering too! After carrying our bags to the exit, we were confronted by the usual riff raff of drivers that are common at all Chinese train stations. The one thing to never forget when in this situation, is do not believe a word they say.
Cute little kids who wanted their photos taken
I think its pretty similar in most countries actually, that any form of hire vehicle at a station will normally charge more than a vehicle on the street, for exactly the same service.

Rather naively we didn't adhere to the rules and listened to a van driver who told us that he would take us to Turpan straight away for 7.5RMB ($1). I had experience with this before, they never leave until they are full, regardless of what they say, so i really shouldn't have set foot into the van. Over an hour later, we were still sat in a half empty van, watching our lives drift away. There was no sign of any other passengers and the taxi's at the station were telling Portia that the journey would be at least 80RMB.
Some guys play music in their stall, at the bazaar
Hannes and I agreed that it was pointless waiting any longer on the word of such dishonest characters, so walked up to the main street of the town and got a taxi for 50RMB within 30 seconds.

The journey to Turpan took an hour and we got to watch the sunrise from the car. Portia had already booked a hotel, whilst Colin, who we had met in Dunhuang, had arranged to try and find some cheap accommodation for us by the time that we arrived. A quick phone call to him was enough to discover that he had secured Julia and I a double room for 50RMB ($7), which was good value by Chinese standards.

It had been a short night and a miserable start to the day and added to this, Julia and I were feeling sick, so decided that the sensible option would be to go to bed for a few hours and try to let our bodies recover.
An old bearded man munches on a bowl of food
At midday we got up, as the room was getting pretty hot and we wanted a shower. Disappointingly some workmen outside had drilled a hole into the water pipe, so this was temporarily off the menu. Things weren't going our way!

Colin had met a South Korean guy called Jong on the way to Turpan, so he accompanied us to the bazaar, which was located conveniently just across the street from us. 10 minutes after getting there, Julia really wasn't feeling good, so decided that the best thing to do would be to go back home and lie down. I wasn't required to go, so stayed with the guys for lunch.

Quite simply put, the bazaar was incredible! It was like nothing I've ever seen, not so much the stalls, food or merchandise, but the people. Nowhere else in the World are you as likely to see the breathtaking mix of faces, clothing and languages as you do here.
Colin and Hannes buy their Uigher style hats
I bought some fantastic samosas, whilst Hannes got a mammoth portion of vegetables and noodles and we made ourselves comfortable at an energetic restaurant, where we spent the next hour people watching and talking with the friendly Uigher owner (via Colin's translations)

Trying to put into words what we saw is rather hard, but i will try my best. It felt like stepping back in time, ancient languages were been spoken, Uigher, Turkic, Kazakh, whilst traditional costumes could be found on the orators. Looking in a different direction transported you from China to Turkey to Iran or Kazakhstan. A town that had been built by people seeking prosperity on the silk road and who had laid down their roots from all around the World, then chosen not to leave.

We looked at them and they looked at is, and inevitably it ended up with us exchanging smiles.
Donkey cart passes us with 2 Uigher people aboard
I was so happy that Colin was with us, as the locals wanted to ask us questions and vice versa, even now we were participating in a form of trade, i was buzzing with excitement. Moving into an area of dried fruits, groceries and even donkeys, we met some bubbly young children, who were all desperate to be photographed and wanted to try and take pictures of each other. Showing them their faces on the screen, resulted in beaming smiles and shrieks, as they giggled at how they looked.

Some music was drifting from a stall and upon investigation, we found 2 Uigher men playing a drum and something similar to a two string guitar. The four of us stopped to listen, as a friendly old man wearing a skullcap offered us a toothless grin. Another aging man with a character filled face, complete with white wispy beard devoured a bowl of noodles, whilst a donkey sat on the ground not far away.
Emin Minaret
The guitarist began to sing a melody for us, money couldn't buy such an experience, i felt privileged to be witnessing such an authentic moment.

Moving into a different section of the bazaar, we came across a hat store, which was selling a range of traditional style head wear. Hannes and Colin began in some friendly bargaining and ended up purchasing two hats, which surprisingly i thought rather suited them! Leaving the bazaar with the two guys now donning some authentic gear brought even more friendly attention our way.

It was decided that after all the hospitality and kindness that we had received over the last 3 hours, it would make a nice gesture to print some photos of the people that we had met and hand them out as a small gift. The shop got the images of the required photos from Colin and Hannes' memory cards and told us to come back later to collect them.
Horse and cart make their way along the road


I went home to check on Julia, who was still not feeling great, but the promise of a chicken burger and chips was enough to get her out of bed. An energy packed meal really perked her up, but the idea of joining the three guys on a bike ride still seemed to be pushing it a little, so we agreed to meet them later at night and went out for a walk.

Even though it was after 18.00, the sun was still pounding down on China's hottest city, which is also the second lowest depression in the World, 189m???? below sea level. Thankfully we found some pleasant little lanes to walk down, including one with a grape lined trellis. It was fascinating to see the local Uigher population going about their everyday life and peeking into their large courtyards, imagining what had taken place in them over their generations of use.
Jiaohe city ruins


Donkeys pulled carts down the street and the other main form of transportation was motorcycles. Children smiled and said hello, old men and women eyed us with interest as we strolled by, some geese swam in a small stream, were we really walking down a 21st century road? Beijing all of a sudden seemed like it existed on a different planet.

A very small baby fell in its stroller way to close to the stream for comfort and was lucky not to drown. I wondered how many people died in the country per day in similar accidents, I'm guessing a lot. Meanwhile 5 young girls washed their laundry in the water, delighted to have their photos taken. Had they ever seen themselves on a picture before? Possibly not.

After 40 minutes we reached Emin Minaret, an impressive Mosque built in the 18th Century.
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally defended as the city is in a canyon!
To get to the entrance, we walked through a field of grapevines and spotted the guys high up in the structure. When we got to the ticket office i couldn't believe that they had raised the price to a whopping 50RMB ($7), which seemed absurd. Instead, we saved our money and just walked around the outside, where we got really good views, with a lovely mountain backdrop behind the Minaret. When we spoke to the guys later, they said there was nothing to see inside and they also wished they hadn't paid.

The walk back was equally pleasant and we capped off the journey with a delicious 1RMB ($0.15) chocolate ice cream, which kind of puts the ticket price into perspective! After showering, it was time for Dinner and we were accompanied by a Korean guy to Johns Information Cafe, where Portia also met up with us.
Uigher man sits in his house at Tuyoq village
Sadly the food was nowhere near as good as the outlet in Dunhuang, but at least we had good company.

Hannes, Colin and Jong met up with us around 22.45 and after walking Portia home, we went and sat at an outdoor night market, where we enjoyed some beers and kebabs. It was great to watch the people and chat the night away and we didn't make it to bed until 02.00.

Turpan has many surrounding attractions and Colin had organised for a mini bus to shuttle us around them the following day, for a bargain 40RMB ($6) per person. 09.00 at our hotel was the arranged meet up time and our first destination was the ancient city ruins of Jiaohe (admission 40RMB ($5.70), located less than 10km away.

Julia and I were both feeling pretty sick and the scorching heat wasn't doing much to improve our mood.
Tuyoq village
However, seeing the ruins for the first time certainly lifted my spirits and gave me an energy boost to explore. The city had been constructed during the Han dynasty and is sat on an island in the middle of a canyon, which is obviously a fantastic natural defensive barrier. The buildings are made from mud and in some areas look remarkably well preserved, although in others look very poorly restored.

Still clearly visible were a Temple, Stupa, Well, Grain storage and plenty of houses. It made for an interesting 90 minute walk, but i was pleased when it was finished and we could sit in the shade with a bottle of ice cold water and a slice of watermelon that Portia bought us all.

It was a 50km drive east to our next location, which was the traditional Uigher village of Tuyoq.
Buddhist murals in the grottoes at Tuyoq village
Entry here was a reasonable 30RMB ($4.30), which gained us admission into the village and surrounding Buddhist Grottoes. After just a few minutes Hannes, Julia and I were invited into one of the villagers houses, where we sat with them and they offered us raisins, fruit and showed us their living quarters. I left with 2 huge bags of delicious raisins, which only cost 5RMB ($0.75). In Dunhuang we had been asked for 35RMB ($5) for a smaller sized bag.

Having passed the village Mosque, the path led into a canyon, where there were burial caves to the left and the Grottoes to the right. In a small patch of trees a Uigher man and his Mum picked fruit from the trees. As it happened, the guy spoke passable English and was only there as a tourist from Turpan! Like all Uighers, he was very proud of his roots and made it clear that he was not Chinese!

The Grottoes were reached up a flight of wooden stairs and from the top there were nice views across the valley below.
Mr riding a camel outside Bezeklik Caves
3 of the caves were open and had nice paintings inside. There were heavy fines for photography ($5000), but i managed to take a picture anyway, naughty i know. On our way out of the village i bought another half kilo of raisins for 5RMB, they were too cheap not to!

From Tuyoq we were driven past the Flaming Mountains, which are said to resemble forks of fire and turn red in the midday sun. They were quite pretty, but nothing i would have gone out of my way to see. In fact, i found the scenery at our next destination far more stimulating.

The canyon that ran beside the Bezeklik Caves was so photogenic that all of us except Portia stayed outside and just enjoyed the views from the area around the car park. To fill some time we decided to get on some camels, as we thought it would make for a nice photo opportunity.
Jong (scissors), Me (paper), Hannes (rock), Colin (scissors) looking our best :)
As usual, i wanted to get as close as possible to get some nice shots and one white camel apparently felt that i was invading its personal space. I saw its face contorting, but it was too late, a moment later and it had vomited all over me!

Since this happened, i checked up on camels, as i believed that it had spat on me, but from research, i found that it was far worse. As a method of protection (I'd say arrogance too), camels have the ability to projectile vomit over anyone they feel like, a pretty neat trick that I'd also like to possess! It made for a funny experience and gave everyone a good laugh at my expense.

It was getting late, so we were taken back to Turpan, as we were all leaving on evening buses. First stop was to collect some photos that Hannes and Colin had developed from the previous day, to hand out to the people that we had taken the pictures of.
Flaming Mountains
Within minutes, we had half the bazaar searching for some kids and adults and incredibly we managed to track them all down. The looks on their face needed to be seen to be believed, they were absolutely ecstatic to receive them! It was a great ending to a memorable 2 days here and i felt sad to be boarding the bus to Urumqi.

worldcitizen says:
Hahaha "riff raff" of drivers... so true. It's easy to forget these kinds of things when you've just gotten off an overnight train in the early morning!
Posted on: May 28, 2008
Deats says:
Cheers, im having an amazing time. Some of the things i see just blow me away, this was certainly one of those instances. Thanks for following the blog!
Posted on: May 26, 2008
jennjeff1 says:
Looks like an amazing journey Deats! Glad you're safe! ~Jeff (and Jenny)
Posted on: May 26, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Muslim vendor cuts a watermelon, w…
Muslim vendor cuts a watermelon, …
Goods for sale in the Turpan bazaar
Goods for sale in the Turpan bazaar
Cute little kids who wanted their …
Cute little kids who wanted their…
Some guys play music in their stal…
Some guys play music in their sta…
An old bearded man munches on a bo…
An old bearded man munches on a b…
Colin and Hannes buy their Uigher …
Colin and Hannes buy their Uigher…
Donkey cart passes us with 2 Uighe…
Donkey cart passes us with 2 Uigh…
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Horse and cart make their way alon…
Horse and cart make their way alo…
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally defe…
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally def…
Uigher man sits in his house at Tu…
Uigher man sits in his house at T…
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Buddhist murals  in the grottoes a…
Buddhist murals in the grottoes …
Mr riding a camel outside Bezeklik…
Mr riding a camel outside Bezekli…
Jong (scissors), Me (paper), Hanne…
Jong (scissors), Me (paper), Hann…
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Turpan food bazaar
Turpan food bazaar
Man selling intestines, lungs etc …
Man selling intestines, lungs etc…
Guys making samosas
Guys making samosas
Colourful characters in the bazaar
Colourful characters in the bazaar
Colourful characters in the bazaar
Colourful characters in the bazaar
Owner of the restaurant we sat in …
Owner of the restaurant we sat in…
Kitchen in the bazaar
Kitchen in the bazaar
Bubbling liquid and a roaring stov…
Bubbling liquid and a roaring sto…
A range of produce for sale
A range of produce for sale
Fruits and nuts for sale
Fruits and nuts for sale
A communist book written in arabic
A communist book written in arabic
Red Camel, Turpans red bull rip of…
Red Camel, Turpans red bull rip o…
Colin drinking his Red Camel
Colin drinking his Red Camel
Rug for sale
Rug for sale
Turpan bazaar
Turpan bazaar
Lady walks past some rugs in the b…
Lady walks past some rugs in the …
Flying pigeon bicycle
Flying pigeon bicycle
Turpan bazaar
Turpan bazaar
Cute little kids who wanted their …
Cute little kids who wanted their…
Cute little kids who wanted their …
Cute little kids who wanted their…
Cute little kids who wanted their …
Cute little kids who wanted their…
Cute little kids who wanted their …
Cute little kids who wanted their…
Donkey in Turpan bazaar
Donkey in Turpan bazaar
Donkey in Turpan bazaar
Donkey in Turpan bazaar
Some guys play music in their stal…
Some guys play music in their sta…
Some guys play music in their stal…
Some guys play music in their sta…
Some guys play music in their stal…
Some guys play music in their sta…
Little children at the bazaar
Little children at the bazaar
Boy plays with water bottles, whil…
Boy plays with water bottles, whi…
Hannes and Colin show the kids the…
Hannes and Colin show the kids th…
Colin shows the kids their pictures
Colin shows the kids their pictures
Motorbike and donkey, both necessi…
Motorbike and donkey, both necess…
Small child chews on a motorbike h…
Small child chews on a motorbike …
Turpan bazaar
Turpan bazaar
Roadworks near our hotel
Roadworks near our hotel
Small child and woman walk past
Small child and woman walk past
3 men walk down the highstreet
3 men walk down the highstreet
Entrance to a road lined with grap…
Entrance to a road lined with gra…
A road lined with grape vines
A road lined with grape vines
Motorised vehicle and donkey cart …
Motorised vehicle and donkey cart…
Entrance to a mosque
Entrance to a mosque
Small Uigher girls wash their clot…
Small Uigher girls wash their clo…
2 geese
2 geese
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Uigher family pass us on the motor…
Uigher family pass us on the moto…
Grape vine
Grape vine
Grape vines
Grape vines
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret, with snow capped mou…
Emin Minaret, with snow capped mo…
Emin Minaret, with snow capped mou…
Emin Minaret, with snow capped mo…
Julia at Emin Minaret, with snow c…
Julia at Emin Minaret, with snow …
Uigher family pass us on a horse a…
Uigher family pass us on a horse …
Entrance to a traditional house
Entrance to a traditional house
Shady lane in Turpan
Shady lane in Turpan
Decor of Turpan Hotel
Decor of Turpan Hotel
Decor of Turpan Hotel
Decor of Turpan Hotel
Grape vines line a street at night
Grape vines line a street at night
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Portia and Julia at the Jiaohe cit…
Portia and Julia at the Jiaohe ci…
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins - Buddha carvings
Jiaohe city ruins - Buddha carvings
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins - some restorati…
Jiaohe city ruins - some restorat…
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Stupa at Jiaohe city ruins
Stupa at Jiaohe city ruins
Stupa at Jiaohe city ruins
Stupa at Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally defe…
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally def…
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally defe…
Jiaohe city ruins - naturally def…
Jiaohe city ruins, the monastery a…
Jiaohe city ruins, the monastery …
Julia at the Jiaohe city ruins
Julia at the Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Me at the Jiaohe city ruins
Me at the Jiaohe city ruins
Me at the Jiaohe city ruins
Me at the Jiaohe city ruins
Me at the Jiaohe city ruins
Me at the Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Jiaohe city ruins
Flaming mountains seen through our…
Flaming mountains seen through ou…
Flaming mountains
Flaming mountains
Mosque at Tuyoq village
Mosque at Tuyoq village
Entrance to a house in Tuyoq villa…
Entrance to a house in Tuyoq vill…
Old ladies bedroom at Tuyoq village
Old ladies bedroom at Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Uigher man picks fruit at Tuyoq vi…
Uigher man picks fruit at Tuyoq v…
Uigher lady at Tuyoq village
Uigher lady at Tuyoq village
Burial chambers at Tuyoq village
Burial chambers at Tuyoq village
Colin chats on his phone at Tuyoq …
Colin chats on his phone at Tuyoq…
Buddhist grottoes at Tuyoq village
Buddhist grottoes at Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Pretty bird at Tuyoq village
Pretty bird at Tuyoq village
Picking some fruit
Picking some fruit
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Cute billy goat
Cute billy goat
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Mosque at Tuyoq village
Mosque at Tuyoq village
Raisin seller at Tuyoq village
Raisin seller at Tuyoq village
Courtyard of a house at Tuyoq vill…
Courtyard of a house at Tuyoq vil…
Tuyoq village
Tuyoq village
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Flaming Mountains
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Mr riding a camel outside Bezeklik…
Mr riding a camel outside Bezekli…
Mr riding a camel outside Bezeklik…
Mr riding a camel outside Bezekli…
Me after the camel had just vomute…
Me after the camel had just vomut…
The camel that vomited on me
The camel that vomited on me
Hannes riding his attractive camel
Hannes riding his attractive camel
Julia gets on her camel
Julia gets on her camel
Julia on her camel
Julia on her camel
Julia on her camel
Julia on her camel
Julia on her camel
Julia on her camel
Camels outside Bezeklik Caves
Camels outside Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Scenery at Bezeklik Caves
Jong, Me, Colin and Hannes at Beze…
Jong, Me, Colin and Hannes at Bez…
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Scenery around Bezeklik Caves
Old Uigher man at the local bazaar
Old Uigher man at the local bazaar
Uigher family at the bazaar
Uigher family at the bazaar
Uigher family identify the kids in…
Uigher family identify the kids i…
Uigher family delighted to get the…
Uigher family delighted to get th…
Uigher family delighted to get the…
Uigher family delighted to get th…
Turpan
photo by: Biedjee