The train arrived at 5:50 AM in Turpan. This is another desert region, with 16mm of annual rainfall. This place is the lowest spot in China – below sea level.
When we got off the train, it was still dark and there were hordes of taxi drivers standing by, asking "你要騎車嗎?" ("Do you want a ride?") It was also very windy. Our tour guide says it always is.
Turpan is in Xinjiang Province. The full title of this region is Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. China has 55 ethnic minority groups. In China as a whole, the Han ethnic group makes up ~92% of the population. However, in this place, Uygurs are the majority. They get some perks from the government; for example, they are not bound by the one child policy. Their faces are noticeably different from Han. They seem paler, more round, and have bigger eyes. [Uygurs are actually Caucasians.]
Most of the people here are Muslims. This morning we visited a mosque undergoing renovations. Signs here are usually written in both Chinese and Arabic. Not much English. It should be noted that although the Uygurs’ written language is Arabic, it is pronounced differently.
Then we saw the underground irrigation canals. They must be underground or the water would evaporate too quickly. I also got to see a woman who was making silk, and a bunch of people selling it.
I am getting very tanned.
12:10 AM (just after midnight)
We tried to visit the Flaming Mountain today, but were stopped by a small sandstorm. We will try again tomorrow.
We saw a group of dancers and musicians after dinner tonight. They were good.
Nadine says it is flooding in Baton Rouge, due at least in part to a nearby tropical depression. [She called Aunt Paula every night on her cell phone.]
Observation: All the bathrooms in our hotels so far have had a telephone right by the (western-style) toilet.
I have done my laundry twice so far in the sink. [I think on one occasion I paid the hotel to do it.]
Today is Geoffrey’s birthday. The group hasn’t done anything special for him yet.
This morning we visited some ancient tombs, and then an ancient city in the desert. They were both OK.
In the afternoon we visited the ruins of an ancient city called Jiao He. It was extremely hot there. I picked up a few rocks from there. I found the place very interesting.
1. Soup is the last course in the meal. (In the US, it is moved to the beginning.)
2. Two beers = one soda, in terms of price.