Monday, April 04, 2005

Entry 3 China Trip - The Silk Road - Irumqi - Heavenly Lake

Today April 4th we're in Xinjiang a province in Northwest China, we flew in the City of Irumqi yesterday on a warm evening. The air smelled smokey when we landed but we were about to experience some very cold weather. A four-hour flight from Beijing, this was our first of three flights within China's territory. Our hotel in Irumqi was very comfortable, when we checked in I noticed a drug store next to our hotel. A few of us went over to get a few supplies. I know labor is cheap in China but this store was extremely overstaffed. At first I thought the staff was watching us then I realized they were just there to help. Unfortunately every isle seemed to contain one or two staff members or someone would appear in a second, it was creeping me out no privacy.

In the morning after a nice breakfast, we drove to Heavenly Lake, it is a beautiful site, very serene. A glacier formed lake, the mountains above the lake were snow covered and a layer a fog floated across their top peaks. The lake was completely frozen seeing it was a first for me. I wanted to explore on the ice but I was nervous about walking on water but a lighter member of our group walked out. Soon about five guards/ police officers were coming our way, we quickly kept on walking around the lake but not on it.

We had lunch in a Kazak Yurt, a tent style housing traditionally for a normadic people. The Yurt was more than just a restaurant, the family that slept there still had their sleeping gear (bedding) in the Yurt. We were having lunch in someone home. The meal was good lots of lamb and the Yurt was comfortable.

Our tour guide spoke about the Chinese minorities of North-West China especially the Uygur, Hui and Kazak. The Kazak are Euro-Asian in appearance and many are involved in livestock. We saw men herding sheeps, goats and other critters in the plains. Many of the people in the region are Muslim. The Hui, who are Muslim and can be distinguish from Han Chinese by their white hats. It's interesting to realize how China has these diverse ethnic communities. It was only makes sense considering all the Counties that border China.

We continued on this incredible bumpy road, truck stop towns, simple villages, men/women on horse, shepherds (probably Kazak) passed our window. We drove to the boarder of Kazakhstan for a trading post. This was kind of a dud it was very late and we visited only one store. We drove all this way for one store? Oh well, everything can't be perfect. Oh well, by this time we arrived at the hotel in Yinging it was 9:00 PM. We had a quick dinner after I went for a Steam/Sauna?Massage for Ten American Dollars.

Heavenly Lake Frozen over April 2005

Lunch Yurt - look for bedding inside

Service Center - Yurt living near Heavenly Lake


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