© 2012 Elys. All rights reserved. Turpan lady and her goat

Day 369: Journey to the West

Urumqi – Turpan – Urumqi, China

Turpan is boat-shaped basin located in the southeast of Xinjiang. It is the centre of a fertile oasis and was historically a part of the Silk Road’s northern route. The weather condition is harsh, as Turpan is situated in a mountain depression. The temperature is usually above 45 degrees Celcius during the summer day time.

Turpan is fertile mainly because the invention of a water system called Karez. This is the only way the inhabitants here can bring the snow water from the mountain down to the area. No streams of water flow down Turpan as the heat would evaporate them.

Turpan’s Karez is made up of vertically dug wells in coming down from the mountain to the basin, which are all linked up by underground water canals. The canals channel the water all the down to Turpan, taking advantage of the gravity of the downward slope of the depression.

One of the famous site in Turpan is the Flaming Mountains. The flame-like mountain is featrued in an epic Chinese mythology Monkey: Journey to the West. Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, had trouble crossing the fiery mountains which stands in the path of his pilgrimage to India. Through a series of tricks, he managed to steal a plantain leaf fan to distinguish the fire. On the very site now, there’s a tourist attraction spot with murals and statues of the mythology, along with a giant thermometer shaped like a magic cane used by the Monkey King.

Another noteworthy sight in Turpan is the Uyghurs’ village. Here, one can see many rectangular shaped buildings with square holes of over them. These structures are built to store and dry out grapes to make raisins. Grapes are abundant in Turpan and is one of the many main produce of this fertile land.

An oh, Xinjiang also has the biggest amount of windmills in the world. These giants look real pretty during sunset.

P.S.: Monkey: Journey to the West has been adapted into a play; created by one of my favourite musician Damon Albarn (of the band Blur) and artist Jamie Hewlett.

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