I had a really great day today. We drove out early for the 2 hour journey across the desert to Turpan. The landscape was grey and shaley. Mountains were in the distance either side of us. We passed through masses of windfarms for over an hour of driving. There were warning signs about the wind. It gets so strong that it can flip your car over. They have a few of the flipped cars on display with signs about paying attention to the warnings. A few weeks ago 11 carriages of a coal train were blown off the track by the wind. It’s hard to imagine wind that strong.
The high speed rail is under construction and you will soon be able to catch a train to far off places like Kashgar. I’m glad we are able to go now before this occurs. There is road construction everywhere along the sparse barren part of China.
We passed through many road checkpoints. At one checkpoint there was a guard with a sub machine gun – something I have never seen before. They also had these long metal spike things – we asked what they were and found out they were an electrified weapon of some sort…. I was too scared to take a photo. It felt very intimidating. Last night at the markets, a band of a dozen police with riot shields came running through. We were a bit concerned but everyone else carried on shopping so we did the same.
So finally we approached Turpan. What a beautiful place! The air is reasonably clear and dry. The streets are lined with trees. It’s really beautiful and the architecture is unique. The buildings are a coffee coloured clay and many old buildings remain. Grapes grow here – apparently the sweetest in the world. Much is being invested in creating a tourist town. they are knocking down the ancient madrassa style buildings but replacing them with similar ones. There is a big effort to preserve the style of the city.
We arrived at a Government hotel – clean, luxurious, and just lovely. This city feels warm and welcoming. The locals are very friendly. This is so different from the surly atmosphere of Urumqi.