Monthly Archives: March 2012
Video included for inside views. All my photos came out too dark. Watch “beijing-drum-tower-bell-tower.flv” on YouTube
An excellent of Xinjiang geography and history: XINJIANG, TURPAN, URUMQI, TIEN SHAN – China | Facts and Details
Arriving in the Kashgar airport was a little unnerving. I had left the cocoon of Beijing with all signage in English and arrived in the Kashgar airport with almost all Chinese and Uyghur signage.
When travelling alone, my rule is to arrive in daylight hours, and it was daylight. I feel much safer lost in daylight than lost in the dark at night. I managed to catch the airport bus which dropped me off directly in front of my hotel, the Qinibagh. At this time of year, there are hardly any other tourists.
It is a monster of an old-fashioned hotel – enormous. The rooms are all toasty but the hallways are dark (saving energy) and everyone wears their coats in the hallway and lobby. The location was excellent as it is right next to the northwest remaining section of old town. Construction of the new 5* hotel is continuing apace and with luck, I will see it someday.
The breakfasts in Xinjiang hotels are healthy but unrecognizable to me. As a Chinese-American woman, I would recognize congee or a western breakfast. My Uyghur guide, said that they generally have some tea and nan. This breakfast has congee (but the consistency is different) pickled and fresh vegetables, hard boiled eggs and a variety of breads. In addition to the congee, there was something like chickpea powder broth.
If anyone can shed any light on the origin of this breakfast composition, I would be very appreciative.
I would have preferred to stay at the Old Town Hostel, but it was closed for February. The pictures of the hostel courtyard are quite enticing. I did the next best thing, which is to photograph it.
The first afternoon, after settling in, I roamed old town to my heart’s content.
The attached pictures are views of Old Town Hostel and from my hotel room. The tape in the window is for weatherproofing in addition to the heavy curtains.
My departing flight, Feb 15, from Newark airport and landed in Beijing International airport. That morning, I caught the bus from Grand Central to the Continental Airlines terminal at Newark. All went off without a hitch.
The 13 hour direct flight was remarkably manageable. I had imagined that I would be pulling my hair out by the end, but the endless selection of movies and food (yes, food) made the time pass very quickly. We were very well fed on that international flight.
I took the precaution of ordering vegetarian meals to be sure they did not run out of offerings by the time they got to me in coach. However, no worries, there was plenty to go around.
Spent one night at the Eastern Air Hotel near the Beijing airport (booked via Sinohotel website w/assistance of Google Chrome translation services) so as to assure catching the onward flight to Kashgar (stopover Urumqi). Otherwise, I would have had to do it in Chinese.
Chinese hotels take a little adjustment. The electricity is controlled by a console located between 2 beds. It reminds me of a car’s dashboard, much more complicated than our own one switch for every light system. Also, flushing the toilet requires special attention – be sure to hold the handle until all the water has drained the basin. The floors/carpetting is generally disgustingly dirty, so make ample use of the complimentary slippers.
I booked flight to Kashgar (China Air) on the elong website, also taking advantage of the online translation service. I paid with Paypal to take advantage of their “no currency exchange fee” offer. Paypal is a very impressive payment service. Wonder if they are a publicly traded company?
I planned to go as far west as possible and wend my way back towards Beijing over the next 2 weeks.
Attached are a few pictures from the Urumqi airport.