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vbx000 Urumqi - A travel report by Veronica
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Urumqi,  China - flag China -  Xinjiang
3823 readers

vbx000's travel reports

Urumqi- Haven of the Uygur People of Xinjiang

  16 votes
Page: 1 2
Our first stop on our two week journey along the Silk Road. 50 Americans, 2 weeks, 49 brand new students (1 week in Beijing), 1 lao sheng (haha me!) and a series of unforgettable memories.


Dinner. We had 2 hosts, a brother and sister. They are so beautiful!
Dinner. We had 2 hosts, a brother and sister. They are so beautiful!
Urumqi was a culture shock for all fifty of us. For the new students, they just looked around Beijing before being dragged (happily) to a drastically different culture and enviroment. For me, it was a shock because Xinjiang/Urumqi was unlike anything I had seen in China. Xinjiang is officially the Uygur autonmous region and we spent a weekend studying them and the nomadic Kazak people. These two minority peoples, specifically the Uygurs, are the most dissimiliar miniority group in China due to their Turkish decent, devote adherence to Islam, and lingusitic differences. Like Tibet, they have struggled with attempting to seperate themselves from the motherland but to no avail. Unlike Tibet, this region doesn't have any western sympathy- probably because there is no media coverage and the US's political agenda with/towards Muslim Nations. In my opinion (which some of you love so much, right?) the US admin feels it better to have China's iron fist controlling this Muslim nation. Plus, they lack a movie starring Brad Pitt. And, lets face it- no one creates feelings of urgent love, passion and sympathy like Mr. Pitt. They should look into that, if they manage it then people will be protesting in New York wearing Free Xinjiang t-shirts.

Favourite spots:
Mmm...Uygur food. Is it appropriate to post pictures of food? haha
Mmm...Uygur food. Is it appropriate to post pictures of food? haha
We only spent a day here but didn't really see any official spots. Local college students majoring in English took us to lunch and dinner, plus showed us the sights around their city. It was really interesting hanging out them all day, they were our same age, culturally quite different but in the end people are people everywhere and we found the differences weren't as important as we originally suspected.

What's really great:
The
The "largest" Bazaar in the Middle East.
We were told that the biggest bazaar in the Middle East is located in Urumqi by our tour guide. Since I was the only old student, I chuckled and shook my head and even the new students felt this was an absurd comment. It seems rather odd that the biggest bazaar in the Middle East would be located in China, right? The bazaar didnt feel that big. By day it was loaded with tourist junk but had excellent dried fruit and nuts. By night it was full of little shows like tight rope walking, dancing and tricks. Although, most of us ended up surronded by locals who were taking pictures of us... so we weren't sure who was on display here- the Americans or the Uygurs. Either way we had a good time with it. No worries, we were on our best behavior being warned that drinking was absolutely not at all tolerated.

Sights:
Medicinal Lizards!
Medicinal Lizards!
The only negative point of our trip to Urumqi was that even though the local studenst were great to us... we had a harder time with a small section of the local Uygur people, especially during the night market.

Now, we were on our best behavior, but I think even at our best a lot of us are still easily targeted as Americans from the US. Especially some of the guys who are really your picture perfect view of the strapping, all american college students.

In the night market we were met with a little hostility and aggression that left a bad tast in our mouths. A few people pretended to hold rifles, I think one even had an air rifle, and shot at us shouting Osama Saddam or Bush. It went as far as two boys being spit on.

Accommodations:
Artwork on a tower. I  love intricate artwork.
Artwork on a tower. I love intricate artwork.
I don't remember where we stayed or how I felt about it. But, I have a feeling it was the nicest hotel except for Xi'an of our two week journey because other than Xian it was the largest city we visited.

Nightlife:
Christmas Present? Mmm... Meat. I love my meat.
Christmas Present? Mmm... Meat. I love my meat.
No clusb or pubs that we attempted to find. No one even uttered the word alcohol.

Hangouts:
It says something about a culture that takes the time to intricately decorate buildings.
It says something about a culture that takes the time to intricately decorate buildings.
I just want the picture... haha

Restaurants:
Tower
Tower
I don't remember the name of the places where we ate but Uygur food is absolutely delicious! Nan, Uygur flat bread, was a staple in our diets for the entire trip. When we left Xinjiang we bought a lot to take with us to keep our hunger sated for the rest of the trip- or at least a few days.

Also, there was lamb meat everywhere. It was generally good but I found it to be much more fatty than that lamb I ate in Inner Mongolia. I prefer my meat lean- but the skeweres are absolutely amazing. Mmm skewers.

They also had these noodle dishes that were really good. They had red & green peppers plus lamb and the tasty brothe that cooked it in.

Unlike China, in Xinjiang people generally eat their own dish with only a few group dishes like Nan or other bread based large dishes.

Other recommendations:
Now, in some ways I understand the tension. For quite a while US and Muslim nations have had tensions. China claims that outside Muslim nations encourage extremism within Xinjiang's borders, another reason why the US most likely encourages China to keep them 'reined in' for lack of a softer term. But, regardless of my administrations good or bad decisions with policies towards the Middle East, it was scary being targeted by taunts, even if they were harmless.

This was our first taste of the Middle East and many students, especially the males who received most of the pressure, were really shaken up and angered by it.

I am part Chaldean (roman catholic Iraqi) and I'm really interested in that part of my heritage, but even after those little displays it scares me a little to delve deeper into the Middle East. It was just shocking.

I understand that traveling as a citizen of the US is a double edged blade. But, I hadn't experienced the sharp end yet.

Published on Monday November 7th, 2005


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Tue, Nov 08 2005 - 03:26 PM rating by jesusferro

One of the best globo reports'

Tue, Nov 08 2005 - 12:21 PM rating by magsalex

Great report...and there is nothing wrong with having an opinion!!

Mon, Nov 07 2005 - 05:45 PM rating by isaacmolina

Tsai chien!

Mon, Nov 07 2005 - 04:24 PM rating by horourke

You have great ability to convey all news good and bad with great honesty.
I marvel at your energy even though i know you are very young
Hugh

Mon, Nov 07 2005 - 01:52 PM rating by davidx

You really should consider writing a book. Clearly you are utilising a great opportunity to the full.

Mon, Nov 07 2005 - 12:55 PM rating by jorgesanchez

You again deserve 5 points! For your fresh writing style and for the exotic destination.

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