Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province
Tom had arranged to have China Travel Service guides meet us at the airport and then take us around each of our three stops in Xinjiang: the cities of Urumqi, Khotan and Kashgar. Having prearranged itineraries and transportation made it easier to travel with the girls, for whom this was a major trek into deeply unfamiliar territory - and on us, too! Tom’s planning paid off again and again, first on our arrival in Urumqi, when our Uighur guide met us at the airport and whisked us off for a day of sightseeing before our evening flight to Khotan.
There’s not much to see in Urumqi, and we pretty much hit the high points.
Tom marveled at the city skyline, which had gone from low to high-rise since his last visit in 1987:
By contrast, the English in the park was less recognizable, at least to us. One of our hobbies is collecting “Chinglish,” and we found two prime examples at Hong Shan. We got the "don't litter" meaning, along with a laugh:
As we wandered through the park, we saw some carnival games.
There’s not much else to tell about Urumqi. We browsed the museum of Uighur culture, which had pretty interesting displays of the costume and customs of some of the province's tribes, but did not allow photos. Tom couldn't stay away from the vendors selling bread (professional research, he called it), and asked our guide to stop the van as we passed some especially enticing displays:
We ate a LOT of bread in Xinjiang (since the girls don't eat mutton, the staple protein). Luckily for us, the bread was consistently great. Our favorite was the Uighur bagel, which could easily give a New York bagel a run for its money, even though it is baked in an Indian-style tandoor oven!
After a quick and forgettable dinner, we
were back on another plane heading south, deeper