Urumqi, China – September 1999

During the long winter, Urumqi is covered with snow and the frozen frost on the tree branches turns the city silver. But Urumqi is at it’s most attractive in the summer, when the trees are green, water gurgles in the streams, flowers bloom and mountains are lush green.

Heavenly Lake

Legend says that the lake was a mirror on the dressing table of the Western Queen Mother, a popular goddess in Chinese mythology.

A highway leads to the top of Mount Bogda, and after passing through the Stone Gate and gorge, one reaches the Smaller Heavenly lake, which sits like a sapphire on green velvet. Climbing still higher, one soon comes to the Heavenly Lake itself. The lake water is transparently clear, and the reflections of the blue sky, clouds, snow-capped peaks and pine trees give the place the feeling of otherworldliness.

It is no wonder that people often compare this lake to West lake in Hang zhou and the crystal-clear waters of Switzerland.

Nanshan Pasture

Nanshan (Southern Hill) Pasture is another tourist attraction in Urumqi, which is characterized by numerous hills and deep gorges. Tall poplars grow everywhere and there are several beautiful orchards. Almost every gorge and hill offers a spectacular view, making it the best summer resort in the city’s environs.

Here one will also find Xibaiyang (west poplar) Gully, which attracts more tourists than any other place in Urumqi. The gentle slopes on the sunny side of the hills are covered with verdant grass, virgin pines and fir trees. Cattle and sheep are scattered here and there, and

herdsmen’s songs echo in the valleys.

On the meadows, Kazak herdsmen hold horse races and other popular summertime games. In the mushroom-like white yurts, one can try the local milk tea and cheese.

On the road to Baiyang (poplar) River in the mountains, tourists are often greeted by smiling Kazak boys offering a ride on their horse for just few Yuan. Nearby Poplar Waterfall, created by the runoff of melting snow, splashes down a cliff more than 40 meters high, forming a misty curtain and colourful rainbow.

When some people in Urumqi return from visiting Guangzhou, Shanghai or cities abroad, they invariably complain that the speed of Urumqi’s progress is still too slow. They think Urumqi is in urgent need of more new ideas, new development, new funds and new talents. Business people

are now showing more and more interest in the city, considering a bridge on the new Silk Road.

As I sat on the ridge of Red Hill, known as the eye of Urumqi, and enjoyed a panoramic view of the environs, I could not help but wonder what further changes are in store for Urumqi in the future.

Geography of Xinjiang

Xinjiang is located in the northwestern part of China. It covers about 1.6 million square kilometers, and Xinjiang is the largest administrative division.

Xinjiang borders on Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, with total boundaries running to 5400 kilometers.

There are several huge mountain ranges running east and west across Xinjiang. On its northern border loom the Altay Mountains. The mammoth Tian Shan mountains divide Xinjiang into North and South. Two enormous basins, the Junggar Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south, each spread out from the Tian Shan foothills.

Xinjiang has the world second highest mountain peak, Qiaogeli Peak, at 8,611 metres elevation and the second lowest place, Turpan, at about 154.43 metres below sea level.

Transportation

The main transportation are buses, trains and airplanes. However, in some small and remote farming areas, the donkey bus is very popular, especially in Turpan.

Currency

Here we all use Chinese money (RMB), but the visitor may go to the bank to change their travellers checks or cash and the bank is just in the center of the Urumqi city.

Special Local Food

Xinjiang is a wonderful place to eat special ethnic food and fruit and watermelon, Hamimelon, etc…..Visitors can eat Home-made Shish-kebab, thin-wrapper dumplings and baked dumplings and hand-made noodles and pilaf on the Bazzar. Sometimes one can enjoy Barbecued whole lamb when the Uygur festival begins. The food is very cheap and delicious.

Accommodation

There are many hotels in Urumqi of differing standard and price. The most popular hotels for travellers are the Xinjiang Hotel, Hongshan Hotel and Holiday Inn.

Standard rooms in Hongshan Hotel are 150 RMB per night (approx US$18) and dorms are US$3-4 for foreigners. However, Holiday Inn is about US$100 per night.

Hongshan and Xinjiang Hotels have good position about transportation and the Holiday Inn is just opposite the Hongshan Hotel.

Internet

I have a small internet cafe in my home. Open 24 hours, with Jazz music. Also, check out

Wow! China

The Author

My Chinese name is He liang and my English name is Jim. I am 26 years old and I am single. I like travelling very much and I know my city inside and out.

I also like music and Chinese chess. I am studying Jazz and I play Guitar and E-Keyboard.

I like to talk about everything under the sun to practice my English with foreigners and I will surely make your trip on the silk road a success. I enjoy both the Chinese and Western cultures and I would like to meet and guide travellers in my area.

You can also visit my website at SilkRoadBusiness.com

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