Saturday, November 24, 2007


After arriving in Urumqi, we quickly got on a bus to Turpan. Our first thought on arrival to the brightly lit Chinese center of the city was "why do so many people recommend this place?" Once we began to wander through the old town with its traditional mud brick courtyard homes and old bearded men riding in donkey carts we began to see Turpan's charm. There was a night market where what by day was a clean, paved parking lot became an outdoor restaurant with many vendors selling dirt cheap shashlik, stir fry, and steamed dumplings, all cooked on portable coal grills. In one corner you could even find such delicacy's as cows lung and sheep head. We ate here nightly, with a bottle of Turpan wine, a steal at $1.60.

The Chinese are sometimes a bit weird. One thing we have seen in several towns is birds with noise makers. I first encountered these birds in Turpan, when I heard overhead a sound something like a large motored airplane. I looked up to see that it was a flock of birds, of which at least one had been caught and outfitted with a noisemaker.

We arrived into Turpan just in time for the raisin harvest. The grapes had been harvested and hung to dry and now people were sorting the raisins in huge piles on the oily pavement, after which they were bagged with garden shovels. Seeing this method of handling, Tim and I decided not to eat any. This really upset one young vendor. When we refused to purchase some he began screaming at us "please, please, my family raisin! please, it's my family raisin"

Another interesting thing we saw in Turpan was the city dump. Interesting because it was the way the entire thing was sorted into neat little piles-fabric scraps, metal, bicycle tires, cardboard, different thickness of paper, and plastic and glass containers of all sizes. There was even a cloths line hung between two trees where scavangable clothing was hung.

While Tim hung out in Turpan, I took a day trip one day by bus to a small Uyger village called Tuyoq . Here it seems like the people live like they must have for centuries. Their mud brick courtyard homes were interspersed throughout the crumbled homes of the past. Muezzins climbed to the mosque roof to call out the prayer call the old fashioned way, with no loudspeakers. But still, progress creeps in-there was an oil well in the middle of the fields.

Hanging out

Outdoor pool

Exercise in the park

An old Uyger man

A typical donkey cart

The Emin minaret behind some fields and large, well ventilated brick buildings used for drying grapes

Sorting raisins on the pavement


A typical courtyard home

Homes mixed in with the ruins of the past

I have recently gotten a hold of Mao's little red book in English. At the end of each blog in China, I will share a paragraph or so out of the book. Please note that I am doing so for informational purposes only and that the quotations I choose to share do not reflect my own opinions!

Mao's quote from the little red book for today:

"For instance, to arrest, try and sentence certain counter-revolutionaries, and to deprive landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists of their right to vote and their freedom of speech for a specified period of time-all this comes within the scope of our dictatorship. "

"Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung" 1966, Foreign Languages Press.

Please note that Mao's quotes are presented for informational purposes only, and do not reflect the opinions of the blog author!

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