Magical Mystery Tour
Turpan Travel Blog› entry 44 of 80 › view all entries
Turpan is in Xinyiang province and we have some fresh linguistic challenges; the locals speak Ugihur, a Turkish-like language, but Chinese is still the "official" language. One consequence of this is that places have 2 names, one Chinese and one Ugihur; Turpan is referred to as Tulufan by the Chinese and on all official documents such as railway timetables. The railway timetable is also a bit misleading in another respect as the railway does not actually pass through the town - the railway station is about 50 km away which is quite important when you are rushing to catch the next train to Kashgar.
Turpan really is an oasis town and lies in a wide depression almost 200m below sea level.
The sights around Turpan are very widely spread, many are about 50km from the town so unless you have a car the best practical way of seeing them is to take a day tour and the locals are switched on to this. Our tour, used to demanding Chinese clients, packs a lot into a very full day. We leave at 8:30am and arrive back at 7:30pm but only after pleading with the driver to take us back to the hotel and skipping out on the last 2 sights.
Turpan, despite the heat, is a pleasant place to stay. The town is known as the grape capital of China and a few of the streets in the centre are covered by grape trellis which is both scenic and provides good shade from the sun. Despite this area being Muslim, shops here sell locally produced wine, which is considered good stuff. Based on our previous experience of Chinese wine we stick to the beer. The food here is also a noticeable change from other parts of China. Kebabs, mainly mutton and liver, seem to be the popular dish and very tasty they are too.