The further west you go in China the more Muslim influence appears, in Turpan, you reach a tipping point where it starts to surround you. The city still appears to be structured in the same way that makes most Chinese cities similar, however, I would call this a "Muslim flavored" Chinese city. There are landmarks all around the city, including the flaming mountains and GaoCheng Ancient City, however for my stay, I decided to focus on what I was able to find in or near Turpan proper; Jiahe Ancient City(交河故城), The Karez Canal(米依木·阿吉坎儿井) and The Ermin Minaret(苏公塔).

My first half hour at Jiohe had me worried that I might have wasted my morning, the tourist entry gate, tram ride and museum gave me the impression that this attraction was a completely fake modern day representation of an ancient city. When we pulled up to the third tram stop I was relieved to find that there actually was a real ancient city here. It's not just a couple structures either, this is five square kilometer plateau filled with eroding ancient stone buildings and stone paths; walking the whole thing is a less mind-numbing then I worried it could be.

The Karez system apparently has two different locations, an older northern one, and a brand new southern one. When I got a cab to visit this place my driver made me chose which one, and I guessed that maybe the northern one was more interesting. I don't know what the south one is like, but where I ended up couldn't have been more of a waste of time. At this location, there were only about 50 meters of the water tunnel, and it had been rebuilt so that the water flows under a glass floor that all of the tourists walk over. The whole site was an incredibly artificial tourist trap. Watching the groups of 20 or 30 tourists cram onto a small stairway to get into the tunnel was mildly entertaining, but watching their shock when after only 30 meters they reach the gift shop/exit was hilarious.

The Ermin Minaret is located on the far east side of town, it's basically just a mosque which happens to have China's largest Minaret, which isn't that large. There's a garden and a graveyard outside of the structure, and on the inside a couple different chambers to walk around. When I arrived inside a German tour group was making its way through on a guided tour, but after 10 minutes or so they were leaving the place for me to explore. The fact that I could hear the echo of my every footstep reverberate through the structure of the building while I took photos made it feel a bit spooky and forbidden to be here, and of course, helped get some nice photos.

1 comment:

People Abroad said...

Dear Friend,
My name is Nerissa and I am Filipino and Italian. I am an expat, a traveler, and a mother. I have just created a website called www.peopleabroad.org to talk about the stories of people that for different reasons live or travel around the world.
I hope you could contribute with your personal story to this website. I would also appreciate if you can also publish summaries of some of your best articles that are currently on your blog/website also on PeopleAbroad.org (obviously, I will give you credits for your posts). An interview will also be appreciated.
I thank you for your precious time and, whatever your belief is, I wish you a peaceful time for Christmas.
All the best,