On to Kuqa

On to Kuqa

               Another early wake up call, today at 5 AM to catch the flight to Kuqa at 8 AM. 

               Cab was waiting at 6 AM and he first asked for 80 RMB for the trip.  When we arrived the ride was 30 RMB I knew he was high so I countered with 50 RMB which he accepted.  Arrival at the airport terminal I gave him 50 RMG and he said I owed him 80 RMB.  Not to be intimidated, and with enough Chinese to argue, I told him he agreed to 50 RMB and if he did not accept I would call the police.  This went back and forth for a bit and fortunately my loud voice can be very unpleasant even if my Chinese is not perfect.  Finally, I offered his 10Y more as a way to conclude, for a total of 60 RMB.

               Security in China is much tighter than in the US and in Urumqi and maybe all over Xinjiang, it is quite tight.  The line at the entrance to the terminal took us 30 minutes to complete.  The crush of people may have been due to the end of the National Holiday and we were part of last minute returnees.  This security step also included baggage X-Ray.  Check in was faster than anything I have witnessed in the US.   They just buzzed through check-in.  The airline, China Southern really had this under control.

               The security before boarding was a nightmare.  That was at least 45 minutes.  Long lines, very thorough screening of baggage and individual pat down.  I had the usual tourist quota of camera, lenses and flash with lots of batteries.  I had to unpack my knapsack to locate all batteries and then when they were sure that it was camera equipment, the bag was then rescanned. 

               In comparison, arrival in Kuqa was a breeze.  It is a tiny airport.  We were the only plane on the tarmac.  One luggage carousel.  One exit door. 

               The itinerary had changed since through a contact we were allowed to access Kumtura, a Buddhist cave site not often opened.   Our driver was at the door and after a brief phone call confirming that we could access Kumtura we were off. 

 www.overseventy.xyz     :     Expand your mind.  Stretch your body. 

In Urumqi

Urumqi

               Sunday morning was scheduled for a trip to the market in Urumqi.  JoAnn had expected something like the Kashgar Market which includes livestock, but Urumqi’s was a sedate inside market with the usual stalls for tourists.  We wandered, avoiding the cashmere/Pashmina scarves, bought two Uighur caps for Rich, and were getting bored when we found the rug merchants in the basement. 

               Rugs have been on our decorating list, but never fulfilled, so what better time, near the heart of the rug making mecca.  The number of merchants on the basement floor was beyond basic arithmetic, maybe the level of angels on the head of a pin.  That was multiplied by the number of designs, color variations and sizes.  Wandering in an out of shops we agreed on color and design and stopped in a shop who gave us some attention.  Then JoAnn began the real inquisition.   I sense the Uighur merchants are in a patriarchal society and are not accustomed to the questioning methods of an American woman seeking truth.   All this in JoAnn’s English, their Chinese and their desire to make the sale.  The questions were beyond my wisdom but they included, knot count, wool type, country of origin, type of dyes used, and the relationship of owner to their sheep.  Oh, yes, then price and cost of shipping to the US.

               From afar the negotiations were quite fascinating.  The shop owner brought in multiple expert opinions, by phone, from next door, but in the end, questions were not completely answered, barriers to understanding existed and we backed off.   Next time we will be better buyers.

www.overseventy.xyz     :     Expand your mind.  Stretch your body.              

On To Urumqi

On to Urumqi

 

 

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               A four thirty wakeup call and a 7:45 AM flight from Beijing to Urumqi.  The hotel kindly had prepared a breakfast in a box for us to take.  A four hour flight to Urumqi was very smooth.  Wondering whether Chinese Airlines endeavor to fly differently that US carriers.  The take off and flight path seemed very deliberate and comfortable.

               Rarely do I take a window seat but the views were quite spectacular.  Dessert then snowcapped mountains then more desert, followed by a fairly lush Urumqi.

               Urumqi is not very historic or interesting and not even part of the Silk Road, it is a fairly modern city, but it was a good place to stop for a day and recover from the travels. 

               After settling into the Sheraton, at least JoAnn was assured that one hotel would be five star, we walked across the street to the museum.

               Much of the display was about the cultural history of the region, but one special was the display of the mummies of Xinjiang.  In the dessert corpses did not disintegrate but just dried up.  Unearthing of graves in the region did uncover some great desiccated mummies.  The photos of a few are attached.  Included is “Loulan Beauty” which they date from 1800 BC and a child corpse. 

 

www.overseventy.xyz     :     Expand your mind.  Stretch your body.