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Urumqi Travel Blog

 › entry 3 of 24 › view all entries

The flight to Urumqi was quite straightforward. The plane had video screens every few rows, and after the safety demonstrations, we were treated to a short cartoon video, featuring rapping pigs, advising about swine flu.  Helpfully there were English subtitles, and to avoid catching it, apparently I have to "Keep good mood", "employ social morality" and "always boiling food". I must have missed the NHS passing on this vital information.

I had a few hours to kill in Urumqi before my onward flight to Kashgar, so I dumped my pack at the left luggage counter, and got a taxi to the museum. As we set off, the taxi driver offered me a cigarette. That's a first.

The guidebook warns of a half hour queue to get into this museum. I walked straight in to a virtually deserted building. That could be something to do with the the four heavily armed sentries standing under rather a sweet gazebo, and the twenty soldiers in full riot gear and shields, guarding the place. I don't think Urumqi is a place many tourists are heading for right now. It was a plus for me though, with so few people there. I can't think when I've ever enjoyed a museum so much. A fantastic new building with the most well preserved and displayed archaeological/anthropological collection I've seen. Amongst other things, beautiful, colourful fabrics, nearly 3,000 years old; bronze wind goggles (!) and incredibly detailed cakes - floral cakes, moon cakes, dumplings, dough twists  with no detail lost and looking almost edible. The mummies, in their original clothes were amazing - far better preserved than anything I've seen in the UK. I loved the place.

Back at the airport, I went through security, only to be told of a three hour (at least) delay. I begged my way back out again, as I knew that the same airline had another flight an hour before mine would depart, so I asked if I could be transferred to that. Better still, they transferred me to another airline's flight, departing in less than an hour. It was like an episode of 'Airline' - people rushing about getting my luggage back, getting me re-ticketed and checked in again in the nick of time.

On the flight, a Uighur couple behind me started to chat (anyone who speaks any English always wants to chat, in China) They were lovely - and the upshot of it all was that they insisted on taking me to my hotel, and invited me to their nephew's wedding tomorrow! Not a bad start to my Xinjiang sojourn.

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photo by: AndySD