7 cent Ice cream
Turpan Travel Blog› entry 7 of 24 › view all entries
April 4th, 2009 – by: seattlejon
On the way to Turpan, there were fields of white wind driven power generators. We stopped along the road to pick up the driver's friend and drop him at the tourist information center where he works. The the information center was a family visiting from Xi'an with a young boy who was pretty surprised to see me. "Waiguoren ye qu Xinjiang?" (Foreigners go to Xinjiang too?) He asked in amazement. His family laughed and posed for photos with me. Then I got back in the taxi and continued to town.
At the hotel I paid the taxi, got out, and started walking to the door.
"Hi! I've been waiting for you," he said.
At first, I thought he was an english speaking meember of hotel staff, for some reason waiting to greet the foreigner. I quick glance at him took that thought from my mind though. He was young and not wearing a hotel uniform. I guessed he was a tout, maybe trying to get a finder's fee from the hotel for bringing me to them. This was a no-go though since I had mad a reservation online in advance.
I continued past him to the desk to check in and he followed, making small talk. While I was checking in, he continued asking me questions. A little annoyed, I asked him, "who are you?"
"The driver's brother," he answered. "He called me and told me you are comming.
Well, my driver had clearly been Chinese and the young man talking to me was Uighur.
When I had finished checking in, the young man asked if he could pitch some travel ideas to me. Why not. I didn't have any other ideas and the guide book did say that "the tour guides will find you." While we walked to the lounge to discuss tour options, I asked him, "You're not really the driver's brother are you? You don't look alike."
"You're right," he said. "Most foreigners would have fallen for that, but you're too smart."
Ahh, flattery. After talking to him a bit longer about tour options, I was feeling more comfortable, but still a little paranoid that he'd lied to me once and might do so again. I told him so. "You would have a deal now if you hadn't lied to me about being the driver's brother.
He seemed genuinely worried and apologetic about this and knocked another 100RMB off the price. That's how Mardan became my tour guide for my two days in Turpan.
As it turned out, Mardan was a very friendly and dependable guide. The first day, we went to see the Jiaohe Ruins, a Karez exhibit, Emin minaret, the market, and a mosque where Mardan and the driver took a break to pray while I explored the small streets in the old town nerby.
At a restaurant for lunch, we were approached by an Amway rep who asked me to write my contact information in his notebook so that "we can be friends". I flipped through the book, loaded with thousands of names and said, "you have a lot of friends!"
I was staying at one of the nicest hotels in town, and my guide was very curious to see the excercise and gaming facilities inside.
The next morning, Mardan and I met again to see the sights further from the city: Tuyoq, Khocho Ruins, Flaming Mountains, and Bezeklik Caves. In the afternoon, he returned again to the mosque to pray. While he was inside, I found a soft serve ice cream vendor in the market and got a tall refreshing cone. The flavor and the price were astonishing. For 0.5RMB (about $0.07 US) I had a tall, delicious, refreshing soft serve ice cream cone. It had traces of yellow color. I'm not sure about the flavor. Banana or pineapple I think.
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