Two weeks in Xinjiang – Urumqi & Kashgar

Lucky enough to have a business trip in Urumqi, i took the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Xinjiang. 4 days in Urumqi, 4 days in Kasghar and 4 around Turfan. My initial idea was to rent a car for 8 days but it turned out too expensive, so after my staying in Urumqi I decided to go Kashgar.

MAp xinjiang trip may 2014

Urumqi

Is a modern Chinese city which I would not recommend to spend more than 1 days. For travel purpose Urumqi It’s a good base to start, while for living in Xinjiang it’s perhaps the best location by being the biggest and modern city in the province. Because of the recent issues between the ethnic groups in Xinjiang, the streets in Urumqi are all surrounded by small iron gates, but this should not intimidate the visitors because it’s actually very safe, especially for foreigners. The main two sights are the Xinjiang Province Museum in Urumqi, mostly dedicated to civilization of the province, about the many ethnic groups living here and as an explanation of the Chinese presence in the province along the centuries. Another interesting section is about the Silk Road. Similar area dedicated to Silk road can be seen in Langzhou, Xi’an and Luoyang museums. Erdao Bridge ( ۆڭكۆۋرۈك ) is a Muslim district, in majority Uighurs, which is composed by a few lane of streets and middle-astern taste buildings from the late 1990’s . Here is possible to find good Uyughur food, tools, etc.

Kashgar

IMG_0158

Located on the Western part of China, Kashgar is city-oasis sourrounded by yellow valleys. On the South-Ovest the big mountains of Muztahg Ata (7546 m) and Kongur (7719) are visible, while on the north-east a chain of red-brown mountains. Kashgar till recent years used to be a the center of Uyughur eritrage and the biggest uyugur population. After 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, many of the old cities building have been destroyed to let space to new houses following the taste of the ancient one. I arrive in Kashgar with the first flight. To save time and have a better look to the city I decide to stay at Kashgar Old City Youth Hostel (喀什老城青年旅舍, NO.233 in Wusitangboyi road) in front of a middle school and in the center of the old town. i chose this location because not all the hotels can host foreigners, cheap and easy to get in touch with other travelers. Day1 I’m not very familiar with Uyughur culture and I think this is the best chance to have a good chance to learn. I visit the tourism Info Center in …square, near Id Kah Mosque (ھېيتگاھ مەسچىتى艾提尕尔清真寺) near Aitigaer square. Here i meet three friendly guys, Skander, Musa and Aliya, which basically I’m meeting every day during my staying in Kashigar. Aliya is going to spend the whole day bringing me around, and it has been really fun.

We start from Id Kah Mosque. Built in the middle of 15th century, is one of the oldest builidings of Kashgar, recently restructured is the largest mosque in China. We keep walking beetween the old streets and we reach an area of the old city. We cross the NEW Oldcity walls, and we go to visit on the top a little hill the last houses which are still maintaining the old taste of Kashgar.

From here we go to the The Afāq Khoja Mausoleum or Aba Khoja Mausoleum (Uyghur: Apakh Khoja Mazar). Afaq Khoja (1626 – 1694) (Uyghur: ئاپاق خوجا‎),  was a political and religious Uyughur leader who used to be extremely influent in his time. The mausoleum protects the bodies of many important figures of Xinjiang rulers, and is mostly known by chinese to be the mausoleum where is buried one concubine of emperor Qian Long.

On our way back to the center we decide to visit the houses on the eastern part of the old city. while we are wandering between the walls we are randomly invited to by two households which are celebrating a wedding. Funny fact, we went first to the spose house, and after the to the bride house.

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