Fajr (the early morning prayers for us Muslims) was very early mainly cause it was summer. Thanks to the rooster,which was directly behind our beds, we managed to wake up for our prayers. After prayers, we could not bring ourselves to sleep as the sun was already up but the locals were still sleeping since it was only 4am Xinjiang time. We had our morning walk around the area. There is a mosque just ten minutes walk from our stay but sadly it only opens during praying times. So we only took photo of its exterior.
Our breakfast was pretty light with Katlama bread, salad (capsicum, tomato and sweet melon) and goat’s milk to fill our stomach. Katlama bread is actually a bigger version of Singapore’s prata. I wish we had fish curry to eat it with. Nonetheless, breakfast was tasty.
After which, we bid farewell to the owner and his family for the warmth hospitality. We received hadiah or gift from the owner – about 3 kilos of raisins. The owner and his son are Tahfizs (those who have memorised the Quran). They were very happy with our ‘hadiah’. We made it a point to bring some ‘buah tangan’ or souvenirs to every house we stayed which consisted of a Quran and some halal biscuits. The Uyghurs are very particular about halal products. Alhamdulillah. Insya’allah, ma’asalama.
The grapes of Xinjiang are renowned far and wide. Extensively cultivated and producing high yields, grapes are second to none among the fruits of Xinjiang, and rank among the finest nationwide. Xinjiang raisins are air-dried by the hot desert air and not sun-dried, so they retain their green color and fruity flavor. And guess where do the best grapes of all China come from? Turpan! So we are really luck to receive the hadiah. Syukran. Turpan’s hot and dry weather all year round is perfect and lends itself readily for its cultivation.
Other attractions that we went to were the Emin Minaret and Karez Museum where we discovered western toilets. The state of the toilets were very clean because not many people use them. So it was no surprise, we enjoyed those places.
Sugong Tower or the Emin Minaret stands by the Uyghur Mosque which can accommodate 1000 people despite the inconspicuous appearance. It is the tallest minaret in China. The huge column made of grey bricks and earth would be dull if not for its decorative patterns. The Uyghur architects used bricks to form 15 different patterns such as waves, flowers or rhombuses.
Set against the azure sky, silvery Tianshan Mountain and the scarlet Flaming Mountain , the minaret displays a pristine but dignified air.
The Karez Water System Museum features Turpan’s water system which was crucial in Turpan’s development as an important oasis stopover on the ancient Silk Road skirting the barren Taklamakan desert.Water is collected from mountains and channeled undergrounds to agriculture fields.
Our travel in Urumqi-Turpan lasted for only 2 days 1 night as we had to leave for Kashgar in the evening via a domestic flight, Tianjin Airlines. Traveling during summer means longer daylight which has allowed us to maximize our days.
We would like to thank Azmat from ORT for being our guide in the first leg and sharing his thoughts. He added local insight that touring on our own would have missed. The husband is the one who is with the shades and very Mat looking and Azmat is the one in white t-shirt. Azmat is a Uyghur who grew up in the Ili city, 4 hours away from Kazakhstan. He is married with one kid. We wish Azmat success in his future business, opening up a training and language school.
1hour 30minutes after we left Urumqi, we landed safely in Kashgar where we met with ORT’s guide, Rapkat (Uyghur name)/ Hameed (Muslim name). Rapkat is Azmat’s friend from the same city. By then, all we wanted to do was to have a good shower. We did just that and Rapkat brought us to dinner, ending Day 2.
There are just too many photos taken in Turpan but to upload them here would mean this post would take ages to complete and publish. So for more photos do click on Silkroad (China Leg) I 2013.