Category: Xinjiang

Dec 27 2009

Urumqi to Turpan(TuLuFan) to LiuYuan, China

Went to the train station in the morning

and took the 9.36am train 544 to Turpan (TuLuFan).


In Urumqi, the sky only lit up at around 9.30am Beijing time.

There were workers cleaning the train, sweeping and mopping every now and then. There were also many Carts selling food running around the aisle. Many Chinese were eating all kinds of fruits and junk foods, to me, even western China seems quite well off compared to Central Asian and Eastern European countries.

Got to Turpan at around 12pm.

The train station in Turpan is actually located in DeHeYan and is around 40km away from the city. Bought another night train ticket (164 Yuna, upper berth sleeper, ShangPu YingZhuo)to LiuYuan which is a stepping point to DunHuang.

Passengers waiting in line

Stored my bag at a hotel for 10 Yuan and then took a bus (7.50 Yuan, 40 minutes) to the city.

Weather today in Turpan ranges from -3C to -10C and is warmer than Urumqi. Turpan is 154 meters below sea level and is the city with the 2nd lowest altitude on earth (Dead Sea is the first). It’s also the hottest city with average temperature of 43C during summer. It is one of the driest spot and grows the sweetest melons and grapes in China.

Lunch (12 Yuan~USD$1.8)

Turpan is famous for grapes. Grapes girl

Took public bus 5 to PuTaoGou (Grapes Valley). This is a low season for tourism and there were nothing to see really.

Chinese made, 3 wheelers

Visited a bazaar.

There were quite a good mix of Uygur and Han Chinese in Turpan.

Tried to take a bus back to the train station but it was full so had to take a shared taxi for 20 Yuan. The driver is an ethnic Uygur but he can speak mandarin without an accent. Most Uygur Chinese speak Mandarin with a thick accent and in Kashgar not many Uygur can speak mandarin.

English translation literally

Got on a night train T70 to LiuYuan departing at 9.56pm.
Train coming

The T70 train (Urumqi-Beijing) is heading towards Beijing and is in a very good condition. It’s quite clean and the sleeping berth was quite comfortable.

So far things in China is quite well planned. Even though the train company is government owned but the people working in the train are pretty professional and provide a better customer service than what I expected from a state owned company.

Dec 26 2009

Back to Urumqi, China

The weather was pretty nice today and was able to see a blue sky.

Visited University of Xinjiang.

Students clearing up the snow

Library with Uygur writing on the left and Mandarin on the right

Nationalistic Slogan (Long life to the great People’s republic of China)

Inside the library. The library even has a glass elevator.

Snow from yesterday

ErDaQiao market. Deer products, such as horn and different parts of the animal as health products.

City View

Main Square

Ice Carving


Walked 4 hours from the southern part of the city to the northern part.
JiaJiaLe shopping mall.

I visited Mall 71 yesterday as well and noticed that China has a lot of their own products and brands on the shelf. Unlike most other countries where international brands dominate the local market, China has a pretty wide varieties of their own brands. In both supermarket, they have many selections of ready to eat food and it’s very tempting for me to spend money.

I sent my camera for repair 2 days ago and I was able to pick it up today. It cost 200 Yuan~USD$30 to fix the lens. I was quoted a price 3 times more in Iran. Service in China is still inexpensive.

Looking at the Classified section in newspaper, average salary is around 1,500-2000Yuan ~USD$250 in XinJiang. Compared to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, people here do have a much higher purchasing power because things are cheaper because of the strong competition among businesses.

Spoke with a few people about the July 5th riot in Urumqi and most people mentioned that the death toll was much higher than what was reported by the government. More than a thousand people were killed. The owner of the shop where I sent my camera for repair told me that 2 of his friends were killed. Majority of those killed were Han Chinese. Even taxi driver told me that most Uygur attackers were not from Urumqi but from other cities. The riot was a planned event by some Uygur separatist group overseas. People were also afraid that once the internet ban is lifted, separatist group overseas will try to spread rumours and organize riot again. A nurse told me that there were still patients staying in the hospital because of the riot.

Dec 25 2009

ShiHeZi, China

It’s snowing heavily this morning in Urumqi.

Took bus 16 to south train station and took a bus from there to ShiHeZi which is another city 2 hours away (27 Yuan~USD$4) from Urumqi.

Someone told me that ShiHeZhi is a beautiful new city which was developed recently. The Chinese government has been developing new cities for people to move in and SHiHeZhi was founded just in 2004.

Sat beside a student and he explained to me a little about Chinese history.

Someone told me that Urumqi is the second most polluted city in China and most time you can’t see the sun. But in ShiHeZhi I was able to see the blue sky.

Shopping Street

People in CHina and are quite hardworking. There were hundreads or even thousands of volunteers cleaning the snow and ice on the street.

Took another bus back to Urumqi (29Yuan~USD$4).


Got back Urumqi train station at 7.30pm. Went in the train station to get more information.

The signs in the train station are practical and useful. This is a more efficieny system I have seen so far after traveling to and from different train stations.


Price and distance

There is even a big sign in front of the train station showing the number of seats available.

This is a more efficient system I had seen so far in my travel.

Dec 24 2009

Urumqi, China

The road across the desert is in good condition

and surprisingly cell phone signal was pretty good all along the way.

Saw 2 big wind farms along the way. China has one of the biggest wind farms in the world.

Arrived in Urumqi at around 12pm after 26 hours on the bus. Spending Chistmas in Urumqi..yea..

Urumqi is the biggest city in western China with population of around 3 millions. The word Urumqi means beautiful pastures in Mongolian language. Han Chinese are the majority, with 70% of the population and Uygur consists of 15% of the population. The city was pretty cold, temperature was below -20C.

I think Communist China is the closest example to the perfect competition economy we studied in economic textbook. From what I can recall was that, there won’t be marginal/abnormal profit in an perfect competitive economy. From what we learned in school, America was not considered a perfect competitive economy and most people don’t even considered CHina as a market economy then. There are restaurants and hotels everywhere in the 2 cities I had visited and I can feel that business are so competitive here that marginal profit is close to zero.

Found Hotel Brothers on YanAnLu for (60Yuan~USD$9).

Later I found out that the JUly 5th riot was started around this area.

Around BianJiangBinGuan area, there are many traders and business people from Central Asian countries. Most of the signs here have 3 languages, Mandarin, Uygur and Russian. The Cyrillic characters reminded me of my trip in Central Asia.

Tried to get some warmer clothes at the bazaar.

ErDaoQiao market

Carrefour and KFC were the earlier western brands that invested in China. The investments paid off and these companies are holding a big market share in China currently.

City View
The architectures here have some Islamic influences.

Is this a real Uniqlo?

After the riot in JUly 5th, SMS and long distance call can’t be made. I had to wait 2 hours at CHina telecom office

to make a Christman eve call overseas. The customer service so far in China had been top class and better than what I expected.

Clowns inside a mall

Ice Carving at GUangChang.

Chinese fast food company, Best Food.

The manager told me that this brand has in business since 10 years ago. New competitions for KFC and McD.

Today is Christmas Eve and it seemed many Chinese joined in the celebration with some people wearing Santa’s hat and Christmas decorations in stores. When I use the word Chinese, I am including the different ethnicity such as Uygur, Kazakhs, HUi…

Found a bar at YouHaoLu with Christmas Eve performance.

Dec 23 2009

Kashgar to Urumqi, China


Took a 10am bus to Urumqi (24 hours ride, 248 Yuan~USD$35). The cheapest flight to Urumqi is 570 Yuan at 1pm but I figured that I will probably just gain 7 hours of free time or 2 hours of sunlight after taking account of sleeping time and transportation to and from the airport. Plus I will get to see some desert by taking the bus.

The bus had a delay and left at 12pm.
< In China, there are many slogans or propaganda written on the wall. Here, a flowchart showing the bus driver the process of entering the bus station.

Responsibilities of the bus station surpervisor are stated at the bus station.

View on the way

China’s growth is pretty amazing, even as a city at the western frontier, the city is well planned, relatively clean, has great infrastructures and there are many varieties of goods and services offered. Kashgar is relatively modern compared to most cities in Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I was curious how the city looked like even just 5 years ago.

However, toilets in China are still pretty backward

Dec 22 2009

Kashgar, China

It’s easy to eat out in CHina. There are many varieties of food here and it’s cheap.

Ate a pigeon (15 yuan) for breakfast
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Cleaned up the bird
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Air in China is quite polluted even in Kashgar.
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Moved to another hotel next door (40 yuan) because Hotel doens’t have hot water and is quite cold at night.

Someone important is visiting the city

Got on bus 9 to the west part of the city center. There are so many hotels (bing guan, jiu dian, zhao dai shuo) everywhere. I think Kashgar is a convenient place to stay because there are all different kinds of shops around, many modes of transportation and restaurants everywhere. I don’t have to walk far to get things I want here.

After school. Kids here wear very colorful winter clothings

Lunch, Hong Shao la mian and Niu Jing mian (10 yuan)

A shopping place street,

There are many different kinds of local Chinese brand name which I have never heard before. People are very enterprising here.

NOticed 2 sporting goods stores with logos similar to Nike.

A guy even came out and told me that I shouldn’t take photos because of business policy.

Cab is inexpensive here, around 5 Yuan to most places in the city. Took one to Kashgar Bazaar.

Part of the old city was demolished to build newer and safer buildings. There were people who criticised this plan saying this will destroy cultural history. But I think some buildings at the old city are torned and not sanitary to live in.

This is part of the Old city which is preserved for touristy purposes.

In front of a man make lake with a small pagoda and the old city at the back.

Met a talkative Uygur kid.
With a new found tourist guide infront of Lake DOng Hu

People’s square

Mr. Mao’s statue

Chicken market

Took bus 12 to Huang Jiang

I had to miss the Mal Bazaar (animal market) because it’s only held on Sunday and maybe Thursday.

Chinese food for dinner, it’s an all-you-eat can style for 7 yuan (USD$1).

After traveling for more than 4 months, I felt that in comparison with other countries, dollar to dollar, so far Kashgar has the best value for food. For USD$1-2, you can get pretty good food here.

Saw some riot police marching on the street. The city seemed pretty safe and haven’t seen any untoward incidence.

Dec 21 2009

Finally China, Irkeshtam to Kashgar, China

The weather was very cold up at Irkeshtam, around -10C.

Goodbye to the truck that brought me up

The border only opens at 9am. Walked to the border at 9am and saw the Osh-Kashgar bus waiting behind the trucks.

The bus

After getting my passport stamped at the Krygyz side, got on another truck driven by a friendly Uygur guy to Chinese passport control area 1km away.
Crossing the border

There were a few young Chinese border guards, they were quite friendly and chatted with me. A guard spot checked my bag, looked over the photos on my camera and asked about the type of books I have with me. Security is still tight at the border.

Got back on a truck and traveled around 3km to the Chinese immigration checkpoint. Road on the Chinese side is better and buildings look nicer. When I got to the hall, I heard a familiar Chinese pop song and felt a sense of familiarity with the country after visiting a few non English speaking countries for the passed months. The Chinese border guards told me that I am the first Malaysian who is crossing the pass this year and maybe the last one for the year.

Finally China, this will be my 6th time in China and my first backpacking trip.

I was pretty impressed with the efficiency of the guards. At the counter, there was even a machine with 5 buttons to rate the quality of work of the immigration officer, there are options such as if the officeris too slow or rude… This was so much different from Central Asian countries where border guards were looking for ways to get bribes.

Got through the Chinese border at 10am which is considered quite smooth fast for crossing Irkeshtam pass.
Irkeshtam Pass at the Chinese side

Got on a small truck at 10.30am towards Kashgar (80 yuan~USD$11.5).
Small truck to Kashgar

Snow capped mountain

Mountain goats

Wild horse

Horse carrying hay

Stopped at a small town for lunch and there were only Uygur people at the cafe. I remembered an advice from someone saying not to sound Han Chinese so I spoke some broken Russian I learned from the passed weeks with the owner instead.

The truck driver then told me he was not going to Kashgar, so he put me on another taxi to AhTuShi then got on another taxi to Kashgar. Finally, arrived at Kashgar around 4pm after a 48 hours journey on multiple vehicles from Almaty.

Stayed at Hotel Tuman (30 yuan~USD$7.4 for a room with shared bathroom). 4 out of the passed 5 nights, I had been sleeping on different kinds of vehicles. 2 nights on an overnight bus, an overnight taxi ride and a cold night on a truck so I am looking forward to a sleep on a real bed.

My 30 Yuan room

Good to know that the place I am staying is able to resist

Kashgar is one of the reason I thought about going through the silk road. I thought it’s an old, traditional caravan town but how wrong was I. The city of around 500,000 people is quite modern and well organized. Most of the buildings in the city looked new and even in Western China I can feel that Kashgar is a very enterprising and capitalist city. There were all kinds of shops, restaurants, many hotels and internet cafes everywhere. People in China are very entrepreneurial and China is sort of a capitalist country under a communist government. However I didn’t expect Kashgar to be the same way before I got here. It’s like if you are planning to open a business, someone might have already thought about it before.

There are many internet cafes in Kashgar but the whole Xinjiang provice can’t get on the internet since the riot in Urumqi in July. Only XinJiang’s internal websites are accessible. Some people might be horrified at the censorship and thought that communist China is violating people’s right to obtain information. However, I don’t think it’s that bad and controlling information is one way to prevent people from spreading rumours and inciting violence. Internet is an double edged sword and it’s easy for even an individual to spread wrong information and to create havoc. It’s also not possible to send sms using cell phone.

China has only 1 time zone but Xinjiang has sort of their own unofficial time which is 2 hours earlier. Even though most signs are in Chinese but not all Uygur understand Mandarin and Uygur speaks Mandarin with a foreigner accent.

Uygur meat seller

Id Kah Mosque

Uygur fast food

City View

Fried noddles for dinner (9 Yuan~USD$1.3)

Being adventurous and tried some lamb internal organs, I didn’t even know which part did I eat

Uygur family

hmm..the logo is a little similar to McDonalds

Didn’t expect Kashgar having a playboy store

Outdoor dancing at 8pm Xinjiang time, 10pm Beijing time. It’s around -5C but still many outdoor activities going on.

Outdoor badminton

Outdoor gym

Outdoor Ball room dancing



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