From Kashgar I took the train to Yining (伊宁) in Yili (伊犁). The train ride was 33 hours, due to the strange route, that the train took. It first rode to Turpan and then turned west again, passed by Ürümqi and arrived in Yining the next day.
The train ride was absolutely pleasant, since I got to know some people who work in Ürümqi and a guy who lives in Yining. They gave me very helpful advices for my trip to Yili!
After the train ride, a fellow student from Xiamen University picked me up at the train station. His home is in Yining.
We planned the following route in Yili:
- Tekesi (特克斯)
- Kalajun (喀拉峻)
- Zhaosu (昭苏)
- Xiata (夏塔)
- Sayram Lake (赛里木湖)
Interestingly, my friend never went to any of these places before, so it was also totally new for him.
Tekesi was just a stop to pass by and sleep, in order to get to Kalajun the following day. But in Tekesi we met some very nice people in the hostel, that liked to drink our favorite drink, Gewasi (also written as Kawasi) as well.
The next day we took off to Kalajun, which is just a 30 min car ride from Tekesi. It’s a huge, hilly park with beautiful mountains, grasslands and many animals.
This Kazakh guy was really crazy, standing on his horse right in front of a cliff.
The day in Kalajun was really nice, we enjoyed the nature there and had fun. We hitchhiked the way back to our hotel, packed our bags and went off for the next destination: Zhaosu.
Zhaosu city was, similarly to Tekesi, just the hub to transfer and get to the place of interest: Xiata.
We just enjoyed some noodles and Gewasi in Zhaosu and then took a minibus to Xiata. That bus ride was remarkable because of two reasons:
1. The minibus contained 7 people, which was a very diverse ethnical mix:
- 1 Uighur
- 2 Kirghiz
- 2 Kazakhs
- 1 Han-Chinese
- 1 German
2. Even though it was a just a 60km ride, we had to stop many times for police checks. Each time, the police guys didn’t care for anyone also but me. Also the policemen took the opportunity to take pictures with me each time. It’s a little intimidating to pose for a selfie right next to a heavy machine gun.
Arriving in Xiata, we realized that we were in a super small village, absolutely remote and deep in the nature.
There were totally no foreigners and there were certainly more cows than tourists walking in the streets.
That evening, we had dinner in a Kazakh families’ house. We got that insider top from another traveler in out hostel and we enjoyed a very delicious, home made dinner with beef noodles, freshly made yogurt and milk tea.
The next day, we visited the Xiata National Park was also very beautiful:
Can you see the face in the mountain?
From Xiata we drove home to Yining. We took a special route, that not every bus takes. A guy on the train to Yining told me to take this special route and it was a very excellent advice, the road was crossing many mountains and lavender fields, we had fantastic views.
We arrived in Yining in the evening and went to the bridge. This is a very vivid place in the night and we enjoyed our last Gewasi together.
The next day I went to the Sayram Lake alone, because my friend was busy.
But you know, you’re never alone in China. I met a Mongolian family:
Also strolled along the lake myself.
Lastly I got to know some people from Xinjiang that were really friendly and they even offered to take me back to Yining with their car.
If you go to Sayram Lake from Yining, don’t miss the monstrous bridge!
That’s it from Xinjiang province. I had so much fun in this beautiful province, double as big as Texas, bigger than the UK, Germany, France, Austria and Swiss, Netherlands, Belgium combined. Many people told me to avoid this province, even more people told me to avoid the dangerous South. As long as you speak a little Chinese, maybe even say some Uighur words (The pronunciation is easier than Chinese), then the people will be absolutely welcoming and warm hearted. One very inspiring sentence I heard in Kashgar. I asked a local Uighur woman, weather I might have a look in her house in the traditional old Town of Kashgar. She noddingly agreed and replied “当然，我们都是一家人。” (of course, we’re all one big family). For me, it was the kindness and the open minded way of thinking of that fabulous woman, that showed me, how meaningful life is, if we just open our minds and hearts for each other.
By the way, her house looked beautiful, so colorful and warm. But she already won my heart before I even entered the door.
Maybe it’s for the reason that I stayed 3 full weeks in this overwhelming province, that I really fell on love with that Province. What a painful goodbye.
Next stop: Qinghai Lake