Urumqi China
Up Turpan China
Postcards from:  


Big Bear Lake
Hong Kong China
Bangkok
Thailand
Calcutta India
Guwahati India
Shillong India
Kaziranga India
Agartala India
Dhaka Bangladesh
Bodhgaya India
Varanasi India
Agra India
New Delhi India
Kathmandu Nepal
Bangkok Thailand
Xi'an China
Tianshui China
Lanzhou China 1

Urumqi
China 1
Turpan China
Korla China
Kuqa China
Aksu China
Kashgar China
Urumqi China 2
Bishkek Kyrgyzstan 1
 Cholponata Kyrgyzstan
 Balykchy Kyrgyzstan
 Bishkek Kyrgyzstan 2
Almaty Kazakhstan 1
 Zharkent Kazakhstan 1
 Almaty Kazakhstan 2
Zharkent Kazakhstan 2
Korghas China
Yining China
Urumqi China 3
Dunhuang China
Jiayuguan China
Zhang Ye China
Wu Wei China
Lanzhou China 2
Zhongwei China
Yinchuan China
Shanghai China
California USA


 


URUMQI: My guide-translator, Ma Zhan Wei (Jenny) again poses next to a giant plastic cactus plant on Ghost Mountain. I missed her broad smile by a fraction of a second. JENNY_MA2008@YAHOO.COM


URUMQI: My guide-translator, Ma Zhan Wei (Jenny for those of us who can't make the Zh sound) poses next to a giant plastic cactus plant at a rest stop during our hike up Ghost Mountain.


URUMQI: A sculpture commemorating the tree planting efforts of the Xinjiang people on Ghost Mountain. This otherwise barren hill now sports thousands of hand planted and watered trees. Truly impressive. Actually, everywhere I have gone in China I have seen reforestation projects like this one.


URUMQI: Another of the ubiquitous lions guarding important buildings all over China.


URUMQI: Alleyway leading to the temporary office of the PSB around the back of an adjacent building.


URUMQI: Entry to the temporary offices of the PSB inconspicuously located around the back of an adjacent nondescript building.


URUMQI: Looking down on the public square (People's Square) from my first (hot) south facing room in the deluxe ($49) HoiTak Hotel. Here people fly kites, play board games, exercise and just mill about from morning 'til night.


URUMQI: People's Square always has kids and their parents out flying colorful kites whenever there is at least a gentle wind.


URUMQI: People's Square located across the street from the Hoi Tak Hotel where I stay is a popular gathering place. With any wind at all you are sure to see kites flying.

URUMQI: A view from the 28th floor north facing (and cooler) room in the deluxe HoiTak Hotel I used for most of my stay in Urumqi (pronounced Room-a-chee by most people, but not all!)


URUMQI: Another of the ubiquitous lions guarding important buildings all over China.


URUMQI: This looked like the same monkey act I saw in Lanzhou: a very funny mock battle between the teasing handler and his three simian friends.


URUMQI: Hand made pumice stones offered for sale by the craftsman.


URUMQI: An interesting sculpture in front of what seemed to be a women's hospital.


URUMQI: Close up of the female figure in the interesting sculpture in front of what seems to be a women's hospital.


URUMQI: Another closer shot of the female figure part of the hospital sculpture.


URUMQI: Street market in the Uighur people area of the city. While only one guy can be seen smoking in this shot, most men have the habit.


URUMQI: Watermelon seller at the street market in the Uighur people area of the city. The boy's expression is one of curiosity and turned to smiles when he recognized I had just taken his picture.


URUMQI: Street market in the Uighur people area of the city.


URUMQI: Back street near the main market in the Uighur people area of the city.


URUMQI: Guy watching me take pictures of the chess players in the Uighur people area of the city.


URUMQI: Chess players in the Uighur area of the city. They played by VERY strange rules! The Rook moves like a Bishop; the Knight takes an opponent at the corner, Pawns move forward on the diagonal, etc. I showed the players the rules I know and they laughed at me! A second pair of players followed the same rules. Must be a cross between Middle Eastern Chess and Chinese Checkers.


URUMQI: Traditional bread cooling near the street market in the Uighur people area of the city.


URUMQI: The Bread Sellers near the street market in the Uighur people area.


URUMQI: Spices and other foods for sale near the street market in the Uighur people area. Everything you see is food, including the dried snakes and lizards in the middle of the display.


URUMQI: Chicken for sale near the street market in the Uighur people area. Now this looks like food.


URUMQI: An interesting sculpture in the park across from the Southern Long Distance Bus Station. That's the one I used for my trip to Turpan.


URUMQI: City buses follow logical routes as shown by this poster on a #7 bus.


URUMQI: City buses all have hard seats like these.


URUMQI: Another lion guardian.


URUMQI: Another view of this lion guardian.


URUMQI: The main Uygur people's mosque.


URUMQI: This guy looks like he means business. Forget dragons as the symbol of China; lions outnumber them many times over.


URUMQI: Inflated arch and balloon decorations for a major promotion or store opening.


URUMQI: Helium filled balloon for a major promotion or store opening.


URUMQI: Interesting minaret in the Uygur people's area.


URUMQI: Kite sellers near the People's Square and across from the HoiTak Hotel where I stayed.


URUMQI: Sign near the entrance to People's Park. Now we know what uncivilized behavior is prohibited in the park.


URUMQI: People's Park enjoys lovely landscaping. My visit on 5 May occurred during the May Day week-long holiday.


URUMQI: Amusement Park facilities are sprinkled through out People's Park. Here is the popular Bumper Boat ride.


URUMQI: I watched several groups of small children with their "baby sitters."


URUMQI: This is the monument dedicated to the People's Heroes in People's Park.


URUMQI: These flower decorated elephants were popular backdrops for photos near the south entrance to People's Park.


URUMQI: Lion guard near the south entrance to People's Park.


URUMQI: Stylized camel statue in front of the entrance to the Urumqi Zoo.


URUMQI: Bumper car ride on the grounds of the Urumqi Zoo.


URUMQI: Another of the concessions inside the Urumqi Zoo.


URUMQI: Pigeon feeding inside the Urumqi Zoo. This is always popular with the kids.


URUMQI: Entrance to the five star HoiTak Hotel where I stayed most of the time.


URUMQI: The male lion of a pair.


URUMQI: The female lion of a pair.


URUMQI: Not all stone lions look like lions!


URUMQI: Man hole cover over a Chinese sewer.


URUMQI: A pagoda in Hongshan Park.


URUMQI: Cable cars to the top of the hill in Hongshan Park. At mid-day the cars were always full.


URUMQI: One of the three pillars in a park near the International Grand Bazaar.


URUMQI: One of the three pillars in a park near the International Grand Bazaar.


URUMQI: This grandfather and four of his grandchildren posed for a family photo at the International Grand Bazaar; I snapped one too.


URUMQI: Grand Openings of stores often are accompanied by thousands of firecrackers being set off plus brightly clad promoters like these two women.

 

5-14 April 2004 

Hello from far west China, 

People on the streets of this modern Chinese outpost could easily be mistaken for denizens of any major Western metropolis, though at a less hectic tempo. Urumqi (pronounced oo-room-a-chee with the "oo" silent) is the north-westernmost large city in Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Long hair and unusual haircuts are not uncommon with young males. My own Western hairstyle no longer attracts so much attention. Here in Urumqi there are many Caucasians so my own ethnicity also blends in. There is still a good deal of staring, but mostly by people who look like they have just arrived from the country.  

Better hotels in China use modern card keys for room access. Some are magnetic striped, others are smart cards. Parking meters also use smart cards to collect parking fees, as do the public buses. Directly across the street from the city square I found the Hoi Tak hotel, an excellent five star establishment with sticker-shock room rates. As I went through my practiced routine of asking for discounts and then suggestions for more budget friendly alternatives, the accommodating receptionist summoned the assistant manager Morris, a tall twenty-something German national. We had instant rapport and he offered a can't-refuse deal: 400 Yuan (about $49) with a lavish buffet breakfast. It turned out to be one of the best hotel values I've had in China, very comfortable. 

The restaurant next to the Hoi Tak Hotel serves real Chinese food, delicious and cheap. Like most Chinese restaurants new diners are seated with others at a large round table. A meal of noodles and chicken with free tea set me back a mere ten Yuan (about $1.25). A gourmet buffet lunch in another nearby hotel cost 38 Yuan or about $4.70. The scrumptious dinner buffet cost 110 Yuan, but on certain evenings a 2 for 1 offer made it cheap, indeed. On one of the main streets I found an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant with the improbable name of "Excellent Pizza." The 35-Yuan ($4.40) price includes selections from a large Chinese buffet, several kinds of pizza and all the beer one cares to drink. The only problem is its popularity. Competition for access to the food presented a challenge. I found three separate KFC restaurants around the city. In one I noticed the excitement of a couple teenage girls playing the restaurant's scratcher game; one of them had won something.  

I love riding city buses. Everything works like you would expect it to work and the fare is usually one Yuan or about twelve cents to anywhere in the city. The seats are always hard, but most have one padded seat for oldsters like the disabled or me. Buses are rarely crowded. Automated fare collection for locals works by waving a smart card across a detector mounted at the front of the bus. People watching on buses is enlightening and buses always go where lots of people are interested in going. That means all popular places in the city are accessible by bus. I have never seen so much thoughtful kindness on public buses anywhere else in the world. Mothers with babies and old folks (including me!) regularly find other riders surrendering their seats for them. For some reason, young men are the least likely to show such consideration. 

Most Uighur women wear dark brown woven scarves over their hair, though some fully cover their faces as well. Men wear funny little square shaped caps called dopas to distinguish them from other ethnicities. For the rest of the people high fashion attire is common with both men and women. One day while having lunch in a KFC near my hotel in the central shopping district I counted nine people wearing older "Mao-style" clothes as I registered a hundred dressed in fashions indistinguishable from people on the streets of New York. Even their mannerisms mimic those seen in America or Europe.  

I found myself feeling a bit sad as I pondered the widespread loss of individual national identities around the world. Rickshaws, donkey carts, and even bicycles seem to have been banned in downtown Urumqi. I did eventually find the Uighur and Hui "ghettos" where many of the old cultural ways have survived, where the donkey carts mingle uneasily with twenty-first century conveyances and street markets manage to hide some of the plastic artifacts produced in modern day factories.  

Down one side street in the old area I discovered a man with a "cannon" contraption making puffed rice. Each batch required a loud explosion that could be heard for blocks away. Over the muzzle he tied a transparent "garbage bag" to catch the puffed up rice. Another guy on the street with an equally Byzantine machine produced puffy "corn curls" in a less violent, but equally bizarre process.  

Nearby, several groups of men sat playing chess. I stopped to watch one game for a while and became flabbergasted at the totally incorrect moves given to each piece; pawns and rooks moved diagonally, knights capturing opponents at the corner, etc. Finally as one game ended, I blurted out "bu shi" and lifted the pieces, moving each in the "correct" way for the chess I know. The players while amused, clearly disagreed with my crazy ideas and proceeded to start another game with their own rules. Later on the Internet I discovered there are indeed several different sets of rules for the game in use around the world.  

One evening as I walked a street market I heard a small voice ask, "Do you understand me?" I did and thus began a mutually agreeable association with "Jenny," a twenty-four year old ethnic Hui Chinese tour-guide-in-training. The youngest of six daughters, she wanted to practice her English and offered to show me around town "freely." Eventually it became clear she meant without charge, for the privilege of having someone with whom she could practice English. Her stressed English needed lots of practice before she would be ready to lead another tour of foreigners, something also noted by her supervisor at the Natural Tour Company. For several hours during each of three days we explored the city repeating phrases for understanding, both of us learning things. At one point she insisted on taking me to a little hole-in-the-wall cafe that served traditional Hui food where I enjoyed a bowl of Bean Starch Soup, "not as good as her mother's" she insisted. Another day we hiked up Ghost Mountain, though Id call it more of a hill than a mountain. The day before I left Urumqi we spent some time in a WongBa near her sister's home. As I worked answering e-mail, she got the owner to help her set up her first e-mail account with yahoo.com, "so I could write her." 

Up until now, I have had no trouble getting Chinese currency out of the ATM machines operated by the Bank of China. They have all been connected to the international financial networks like Cirrus. However, when I tried the machine at the central branch of the Bank of China here I got a surprise: even though international network access is advertised on the machine display, my card is unacceptable! The next day I visited a teller inside the bank and learned the display showing international network access is wrong in the Xinjiang Autonomous Uighur Region. Immediately the teller understood the problem and initiated a telephone verification of credit card validity with a bank branch in Beijing. Five minutes later with one signature and I had a stack of crisp new one hundred Yuan Chinese notes.  

Every time I presented one of the hundred Yuan bills for payment the clerk proceeded to carefully inspect it for authenticity, feeling for designed ridges, looking for watermarks and embedded strips and passing the bill through an ultraviolet light source illuminator. I can only deduce there must be a lot of counterfeit bills floating around in China. Most of the fifty-Yuan bills also got the same treatment.  

Competition among the mobile phone service companies is fierce. In addition to the several major service companies offering startup deals that include free or inexpensive cell phones, large crowds of individual entrepreneurs cluster around the big companies with new and used phones for sale. The telephone swap meet goes on every day, people buying, selling and trading up. Speaking of cell phones, everyone seems to have one. However, I can only conclude the units must be defective because most people find it necessary to shout at the top of their lungs into the devices. In restaurants, on buses, in hotel lobbies someone can be heard screaming at the poor soul on the other end of the line. 

Single time zone across China means it doesn't get dark here in the far west until 21:30. It starts getting light at 07:00. However, at no time did I hear the Islamic call to prayer one hears in most other Muslim countries. All of the minority groups are Muslim in this part of China and there are about as many mosques scattered around town, as there are Christian churches in an American city. However, I never saw any activity around them and never heard a muezzin. 

The International Grand Bazaar includes a landmark 80-meter high tower. Around the base is a bas-relief sculpture of the "Twelve-Makam" folk music traditions of the Uighur people. One of the buildings contains four minaret-like towers at each corner making it look like a mosque. But, it is just one of the sales-exhibit halls. Several bronze sculptures of camels are positioned around the mall. In the evening a real live camel appeared on the scene and tourists enjoyed brief camel rides. One evening a display of equestrian skills entertained shoppers in the mall. During my second daytime visit to the Bazaar the professional photographers stationed at the entrance to the mall got interested in my disappearing camera and a "conversation" ensued. After we all agreed Bush is "Bu How" or no-good, attention turned to other world leaders. Most agreed Saddam is "bu how," but just as I began to feel we would all agree on everything someone in the back offered "Osama bin Laden How!" By now I had admitted to being an American and wondered how many of that guy's friends might agree with him. With that thought in mind I quietly slipped away. 

As the expiration date on my first visa approached I searched out the Public Security Department where I could get a thirty-day extension. While in the office I met Josie from the government's Global Friendship Exchange Center where I learned of a program to hire native English speaking people to teach at the University. She offered me a job for 3000 Yuan per month plus a free apartment, free transportation anywhere in China for three months and a round trip air ticket home for signing a one year contract to teach 16-18 hours a week. A few decades ago I would have been tempted. She also noted the possibility of getting a second visa extension with the cooperation of a government agency like hers. I had previously heard second extensions were next to impossible. Actually, both she and the agent in the PSB office were exceptionally helpful and friendly. I had the impression additional visa extensions might not be that exceptional. 

Our comfortable newer air-conditioned bus to Turpan left at 11:30 for the four and a half hour journey. Despite reports to the contrary, our four-lane highway turned out to be excellent. Not far out of town we passed a large wind farm like those in Southern California. Massive turbines made by Vestas and Bonus sat atop the towers turned by the three blades moving in the wind. This is the beginning of my exploration off the beaten path, so reports might become a bit more sporadic.  

Until my next pause to write, 

Peace,
Fred L Bellomy

11 April 2004 

As this WangBa (cyber cafe) seems to be stable and a worm hole just opened, I'll try for a brief note on my activities while they are still in progress. I made it to Urumqi six days ago. Any map of China will show you how very far west it is. However, it is not the "wild west" I expected. This is a very modern cosmopolitan city, home to many ethnicities including some very Caucasian looking individuals. I no longer stand out to quite the degree I have in previous stops. Unabashed staring is rare here... even by the kids.  

I'll keep this short as I never know when the worm will crawl back into the hole and block it. Internet access is a game of chance. Sometimes like now, it is fast and reliable. Other times a session is unexpectedly interrupted or long passages of input snap out of existence without explanation. I suspect government net watchers are responsible for some of the problems. I know for sure they have blocked all access to my personal domain (www.fredbellomy.com), though it is still available elsewhere in the world... for what reason only Allah knows. I got confirmation of this from a World Bank delegate who checked with one of her Chinese academic friends who told her mass screening is the rule. If you happen to include certain combinations of words in your site, it becomes invisible in China. For a site as large as mine, that is easy to do. 

I have met several friendly people here who speak good English and that has been a big help. Generally, I must try to manage with my few words of Chinese or by pointing at something. Actually, I've had very little trouble getting by. Infrastructure in this part of China feels very familiar. 

I learned today my first 30-day visa extension is approved. So, I'll soon head on down to Turpan to explore the extensive underground aqueduct system created in ancient times. Should be interesting. In a month or so I'll head over to Kazakhstan before returning to China for another couple months. I have a big pile of notes so there will be more about this region when I can get them converted to something sensible. 

Peace,
Fred L Bellomy

 

PS: For some late breaking news of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China visit this site.  FB 

 

 


URUMQI: This is the big tower in the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found this beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region. -1


URUMQI: This is the big tower in the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found this beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region. -2

URUMQI: This is the big 80 meters high tower in the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found this beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region. -3


URUMQI: This is the big tower in the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found this beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region. -4


URUMQI: This is the big tower in the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found this beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region. -5


URUMQI: This is the big tower in the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found this beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region. -6


URUMQI: This is where the old building housing the PSB stood. Imagine my shock when I arrived here to get my Chinese visa extended. Asking around in my vary limited Chinese and pointing at the location on my map got me nowhere. Finally, an employee of the Bank of China with a little English understood my plight and walked me to the new temporary location of the PSB a block away. The Public Security Bureau office deals with entry-exit matters for foreigners.


 

URUMQI: This enormous lion stands at the entrance to the main Bank of China. I snapped the picture the same day a bank teller left her post to personally guide me to the temporary location of the PSB office. The building in which the Public Security Bureau (Police department) had its offices is now a hole in the ground with preparations for a new structure underway. Later, Jenny brought me here to take a picture of the great lion not knowing I had already taken it and a guard told her photography is forbidden around the bank. Thank goodness "ignorance is bliss."


URUMQI: Muhammad Tursun, Chief Concierge at the Hoi Tak Hotel and his girlfriend at the International Grand Bazaar, XXX. Second attempt at some smiles!


URUMQI: A view from the north facing (and cooler) room in the deluxe HoiTak Hotel I used for most of my stay in Urumqi (pronounced Room-a-chee by most people, but not all!). The tall building on the right is the main branch of the Bank of China in Urumqi.


URUMQI: This is the birthday cake the Hoi Tak Hotel sent up to my room when they discovered my birthday occurred on 10 May during my stay.


URUMQI: Meet Ma Zhan Wei "Jenny" who approached me in one of the street markets asking: "Can you understand me?" I could and she asked and got some practice with her struggling English and I got an unvarnished introduction to customs of her ethnic Hui minorities in this region.


URUMQI: This is the apartment complex where my guide, Ma Zhan Wei "Jenny" lives with her elder unmarried sister, also an English speaking tour guide with the Natural Tour Company.


URUMQI: This is the WangBa in my guide's apartment complex. It is ADSL fast, one Yuan per hour cheap, and with newer hardware and Windows 2000 plus USB support for my camera.


URUMQI: Street market in the Uighur people area of the city.


URUMQI: Father and son watching me take pictures of the chess players in the Uighur people area of the city. They were amused by my noisy insistence that the players were not playing by the ancient "Persian" rules I know. A little research reveals my own knowledge to be quite shallow. See this excellent history of chess article.


URUMQI: Bread for sale near the street market in the Uighur people area.


URUMQI: Near the entrance to the International Grand Bazaar a group of photographers got interested in my miniscule photographic equipment and "asked" me lots of questions. Finally the "conversation" turned to politics and we all agreed both Bush and Saddam were "Bu how," not good. Then one strange looking guy poked his head into the circle and proclaimed "Bin Laden how," meaning good. As people here are mostly Muslim I ended the conversation and slipped away pondering the possibility others in the group might have agreed with him.


URUMQI: These inflated arches are used frequently to publicize sales or the opening of a new establishment.


URUMQI: Drum and bugle corps performing for a major promotion or store opening.


URUMQI: Colorful pile of scarves for sale on one of the street markets.


URUMQI: Kite sellers near the People's Square and across from the HoiTak Hotel where I stayed.


URUMQI: Signs like this sit at the north and south entrances to People's Park. This is a close-up of the English version text.


URUMQI: These flower decorated elephants were popular backdrops for photos near the south entrance to People's Park.


URUMQI: Pigeon feeding inside the Urumqi Zoo.


URUMQI: Street kitchens like this suddenly appear every night along streets near the HoiTak Hotel.


URUMQI: Street kitchens like this appear every night along streets near the HoiTak Hotel.


URUMQI: Along streets near the HoiTak Hotel diners crowd small tables while they drink beer and eat kabobs.


URUMQI: A pagoda in Hongshan Park.


URUMQI: Skyline from a vantage point near Hongshan Park.


URUMQI: Skyline from a vantage point near Hongshan Park.


URUMQI: Bus #1 looks a lot like a San Francisco Cable car.


URUMQI: Mascot over the entrance to a night club near the HoiTak Hotel.


URUMQI: Entrance to the HoiTak Hotel as seen from among the trees in People's Square.


URUMQI: Signs like this sit at the north and south entrances to People's Park.


URUMQI: Fish pond in URUMQI: Cable cars to the top of the hill in Hongshan Park. I watched several people fishing in the small pond. At first I figured it might be a catch and release program. As I watched a lady pulled up her green net bag to display a foot long flipping fish. They must stock that small pond daily!


URUMQI: These guys became very curious to learn more about my camera when they saw me taking pictures of the street hawkers near the International Grand Bazaar.


URUMQI: Grand Openings of stores often are accompanied by thousands of firecrackers being set off. Here is the stock of explosives waiting for use. They make a terrible racket that sounds like a giant frying pan sizzling.

 

End

 

 

 


URUMQI: One of the ubiquitous lions guarding important buildings all over China.


URUMQI: This is the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Indoors markets showcasing produce and crafts of the Uighur minority people are housed in nearby structures on either side of the big tower. The building with the four "minarets" is not a mosque, though it looks like one.


URUMQI: This is the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. The bronze sculpture of a camel is one of four on the grounds. A shaggy live camel offered rides to tourists on the second night I visited.


URUMQI: This is the big 80 meters high tower in the center of the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang compound. Around the base I found a beautiful bas-relief sculpture depicting the Twelve-Mukam musical tradition of the region.


URUMQI: This lion sculpture wears a festive decoration to indicate a Ten Year Anniversary of a company in the building it is guarding. Before new buildings actually open the lions are totally covered with an equally bright cloth.


URUMQI: The slightest breeze and out come the kite sellers, soon followed by a host of kite flyers.


URUMQI: The skyline from my south facing room in the HoiTak Hotel.


URUMQI: A view from the north facing (and cooler) room in the deluxe HoiTak Hotel I used for most of my stay in Urumqi (pronounced Room-a-chee by most people, but not all!)


URUMQI: Meet Morris Tiedemann, Rooms Division Manager at the Hoi Tak Hotel. This under-thirty German national speaks flawless English with an endearing accent and is tall enough to be a basketball player.


URUMQI: Meet Muhammad Tursun, Chief Concierge at the Hoi Tak Hotel. He helped me learn about his city. Notice the crossed golden keys on his lapels.


URUMQI: Muhammad Tursun, Chief Concierge at the Hoi Tak Hotel and his girlfriend at the International Grand Bazaar.


URUMQI: Meet Muhammad Tursun, Chief Concierge at the Hoi Tak Hotel. A Uygur who speaks excellent English, he took me under his wing and helped me get my Kyrgyzstan Airline ticket on his day off.


URUMQI: Another of the ubiquitous lions guarding important buildings all over China.


URUMQI: Meet Ma Zhan Wei "Jenny" who graduated last year from Xinjiang University in English and is now trying to perfect her language skills well enough to begin getting tour guide assignments from the Natural Tour Company for whom she "works." I'm her first foreign "teacher!" However, I'm learning more from her than she is from me. Now twenty four, she is the youngest of SIX girls born to a farm family living 180 km north of Urumqi.


URUMQI: Drums, bands, dancers, free health checkups all attract shoppers to a popular department store complex.


URUMQI: Health checkup Chinese style. This blood pressure counseling event accompanied a big commercial promotion near one of the upscale department stores.


URUMQI: Drums, bands, dancers, free health checkups all attract shoppers.


URUMQI: Lady at the street market in the Uighur people area of the city.


URUMQI: Kids playing at the street market in the Uighur people area of the city. Moments before they were all looking at me and giggling.


URUMQI: Street market in the Uighur people area of the city. Fewer people seen in this area are dressed stylishly. Many wear traditional garb.


URUMQI: A side ally near the street market in the Uighur people area of the city. Those are traditional saddles for sale in the foreground.


URUMQI: Outdoors concert of the Uighur people: dancers, singers and other musicians played for a lukewarm standing audience for an hour. Notice the dancer in the bright yellow skirt on the stage barely visible in this photo.


URUMQI: Outdoors concert of the Uighur people: dancers, singers and other musicians played for a lukewarm standing audience for an hour. This is part of the large crowd assembled to listen and watch.


URUMQI: Outdoors concert of the Uighur people: dancers, singers and other musicians played for a lukewarm standing audience for an hour. The large building in the background is a replica of a desert caravan station on the Silk Road.


URUMQI: Outdoors concert of the Uighur people: dancers, singers and other musicians played for a lukewarm standing audience for an hour. This is part of the large crowd assembled to listen and watch.


URUMQI: Entrance monument at the International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang in the Uighur people area.


URUMQI: An interesting sculpture in the park across from the Southern Long Distance Bus Station. That's the one I used for my trip to Turpan.


URUMQI: An interesting sculpture in the park across from the Southern Long Distance Bus Station. That's the one I used for my trip to Turpan.


URUMQI: Rows of shoe shine setups can be found at various locations throughout the city. Most charge a single Yuan unless they think they can get 2 Yuan from a foreigner.


URUMQI: This is the WangBa in my guide's apartment complex. It is ADSL fast, one Yuan per hour cheap, and with newer hardware and Windows 2000 plus USB support for my camera.


URUMQI: Another lion guardian.


URUMQI: Two gaily dressed girls promoting refrigerators on the street during the May First holiday calibrations.


URUMQI: Not all of the lions guarding buildings are magnificent.


URUMQI: Typical decorations for a major promotion or store opening.


URUMQI: Helium filled balloon for a major promotion or store opening.


URUMQI: Drum and bugle corps performing for a major promotion or store opening.


URUMQI: Beggar with badly deformed legs near one of the major pedestrian traffic ways. Many people stopped to drop money in his milk carton collection box.


URUMQI: Kite sellers near the People's Square and across from the HoiTak Hotel where I stayed.


URUMQI: Another sign along one of the paths in the People's Park.


URUMQI: There must be a hundred of these little two man camping tents erected throughout the park.


URUMQI: Amusement Park facilities are sprinkled through out People's Park. Here is the popular Bumper Boat ride.


URUMQI: I watched several groups of small children with their "baby sitters."


URUMQI: This is the monument to the People's Liberation Army in People's Park.


URUMQI: The south entrance to People's Park.


URUMQI: Lion guard near the south entrance to People's Park.


URUMQI: Lion guard in front of a store near the south entrance to People's Park.


URUMQI: A bull riding concession inside the Urumqi Zoo. The venue is a combination zoo, amusement park and green picnic park. I passed on riding the bucking bull even with all the sponge rubber to catch a fall.


URUMQI: Electric boat rides are available on the grounds of the zoo. The venue is a combination zoo, amusement park and green picnic park.


URUMQI: Street kitchens suddenly appear every night along streets near the HoiTak Hotel where I stayed.


URUMQI: Street kitchens offer a delicious variety of foods every night along streets near the HoiTak Hotel.


URUMQI: The male lion of a pair.


URUMQI: The female lion of a pair.


URUMQI: The Airbus waits for an arriving flight.


URUMQI: A pagoda in Hongshan Park.


URUMQI: A pagoda in Hongshan Park.


URUMQI: Cable cars to the top of the hill in Hongshan Park. Visitors have the option of coming back down in a fast leather seat attached to a pulley on a tight rope, smashing into a gigantic pad at the bottom... not recommended for the faint of heart or brittle of bone.


URUMQI: One of the three pillars in a park near the International Grand Bazaar.


URUMQI: Street hawkers near the International Grand Bazaar.


URUMQI: Grand Openings of stores often are accompanied by thousands of firecrackers being set off. Here a kid searches the debris for unexploded firecrackers, something I remember doing as a kid after Fourth of July celebrations.


URUMQI: A view of the planted fields from the window of my plane as I left Urumqi. Notice the strips showing alternate crop plantings to discourage pest infestations: companion planting is widely used in East Asia.

 

Reference photo: author
 August 2002
 

Next Postcard