Ürümqi, it’s all about friends

The last stop with my German friends was Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang. 

The 190km journey from Turpan to Xinjiang was already very interesting, since we got our tickets at the ticket window, which said “the party members’ window”. We still got tickets, even though we didn’t bring our party membership certificate… Interesting.

At the waiting hall, there were at least 8 women at the security check who were in charge of the luggage scan. I had to take a picture, that’s not what they teach us about efficiency back in Germany..

Ürümqi has more than three million residents. As a fast growing central Asian hub the city does business with traders from Beijing to Baku and plays host to an exotic mix of people. Cyrillic signs and fragrant corner kebab stands add a central Asian feel, though in reality over 75% of Ürümqi’s inhabitants are Han Chinese. 

We just had half a day in Ürümqi together, before the guys took the plane back to Germany so we just grabbed something to eat first..

.. And went to the big bazaars to buy some spices and chicken feet to bring home to Germany as gifts. 

Since we totally didn’t have hot pot during our trip together, we decided to enjoy some super delicious hot pot together in an all you can eat restaurant. Actually we didn’t expect much when we entered the restaurant, the boss of the hostel just said we might try that one. But when we entered, we realized that they offered such a wide variety of food and drinks, it was just unbelievable! We just couldn’t find words to express, how happy we were! 

On top of that, it was someone’s birthday and all chefs and waiters gathered together to dance and sing a song for the guests. That was so lovely! 

After the dinner, the guys took the plane back home and I continued my travel alone… Well you’re never alone in China though, but I wouldn’t meet Germans for a long time!
The next day I went to the Erdaoqiao market (二道桥市场) and the nearby international market. The minaret there looked very beautiful.

Also the market itself was very enjoyable.

 

I bought a yogurt, which was extremely sour and only eatable with a tremendous amount of sugar added. But in fact it was super refreshing in the unbearable heat of the city.

Next, I was seeking for something to eat and I found some delicious Zhuafan (抓饭), fried rice, uighur style.

Afterwards, I went to the Hongshan Park (红山公园), more of an amusement park, which is not too far from the market I’ve just been to. There I met this wonderful lady who was 92 years old and has been to Hong Kong when it was still British colony and had so much to talk about. Very interesting conversation! 

I have a good Chinese friend who I already got to know in Cologne 2 years ago, who studies in Belgium right now. Her father lives in Ürümqi now and as soon as she heard I’m in Ürümqi, she organized a meeting with her dad.

We met in the park and then went to a local restaurant together. He also invited his two colleagues, all local Han-Chinese who were super friendly, welcoming and warm hearted. We ordered tons of food, such as lamb, the huge Xinjiang-style bread and noodles and we were far away from finishing it! 

Before we left, my friend’s father ordered a drink, that came straight from heaven!
Gewasi! (格瓦斯)

Later I even found it bottled:

It’s a traditional drink from Russia, which also became a specialty in Xinjiang. As far as I found out, it’s made on the base of honey, hops, yeast and sugar. If you have the chance, enjoy it ice cold.
The next day I was so full because of the extraordinarily plentiful dinner that I couldn’t eat anything until next evening. True story!
But that was good, since I went out on a day trip to the Tianshan Tianchi (天山天池/ heaven’s Mountain’s heavens lake), a high-altitude lake two thousand meters up in the sky. From there you can see the stunning 5445m Peak of God. Scattered across the alpine pine and spruce-covered slopes are Kazakh yurts and lots of sheep. I made friends with a guy from Jiangsu (what else?) and a Japanese couple.

The scenery there was just stunning! 

As usual, the many brides there were indicating that this place is really not far away form heaven. 

The next few days will bring me up to the north of Xinjiang, the sub-sibirian areas. 

 

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