China: Silk Road

Turpan: Essence of a Place

Turpan City

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region


September 27, 2016


What better way to appreciate and capture the essence of a place * than to stroll along its boulevards and to wander through the markets?

Turpan is buzzing with activity.  The streets are filled with fast moving vehicles that are decidedly Chinese in design.  Battery operated motorbikes or hybrid automobiles or low emission trucks and buses compete for space with a host of creatively designed mini-cars that can carry a small amount of freight or a family.  Now in late summer, the motorized carriages are all open air.

Turpan: The Raisin Capital of China

Turpan City (pop 254,900)

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

The People’s Republic of China

September 27, 2016


Turpan is the “Raisin Capital of China.”  In a country of one and a half billion people, the Capital of Anything is impressive.

In the Turpan Depression, the winter temperatures are below frigid.  But in summer the sun bakes the land.  Apparently, the local crops thrive in the extreme heat.  The sugar content of the grapes (and melons) increases dramatically.   

Hami: Palace and Market


Xinjiang Province


September 23, 2016


In 1888, a traveler recorded this description of Hami:

"The kingdom of Ha-mi contains a great number of villages and hamlets; but it has, properly, only one city, which is its capital, and has the same name. It is surrounded by lofty walls which are half a league in circumference (2.7k or 1.6 mi) and has two gates, one of which fronts the east, and the other the west. These gates are exceedingly beautiful and make a fine appearance at a distance.

Dunhuang: National Geopark


Gansu Province


September 19, 2016


Here’s a good story:

In Dunhuang city, my guide and I met two young Chinese women who agreed to share the cost of a private van to travel to our agreed destination, the Dunhuang Yardang National Park.

After thirty minutes on the road, the van driver informed us that our group is too small.   We need to join a large Chinese group traveling by bus. 

I got suspicious.   I have been in this situation before.