Hot in the Desert...
Trip Start Apr 26, 2012
54Trip End Oct 31, 2012
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We bargained with a taxi to take us the 55km to Turpan proper and managed to get it for 60RMB (a bit less than $10) and he literally flew us to our destination the Tulufan Hotel. We unclenched our white knuckles from the seats as we exited the car and thank goodness there were no problems in getting a room…we didn't really want to have to get back in the car…..and yet….we arranged for him to come and get us the next day and return us to the train…!
By 2.30 we were sorted and ready for a walk around town. Like all hot places, the locals know better than to hang around in the middle of the day, so Turpan appeared somewhat sleepy and deserted as we headed for the centre of town. The first delightful thing we noticed was that our entire street, for what appeared to be miles and miles, was completely covered in grapevine trellises that were thick and lush and bearing fruit. Not only visually pleasing but it lowered the temperature under the walkway by a good 10 degrees.
The second thing we noticed as we dropped into the local store to buy water….all their drinks were cold ie. refrigerated or frozen…..Sooo different from the rest of China and so welcome as the temperature rose towards 40.
After 2 hours wandering about, ticking off the local market (mostly asleep) and failing to find any restaurants as we had been used to further East, we settled into a street side café under the grapevines for a cold beverage. Tim drank beer and I coke…not sure as to the local sensibilities yet. The locals seemed friendly enough…even the pissed guy on the vodka who wanted Tim to toast with him was quietly shepherded away by some younger lads so not to disturb us.
Eventually….duhhh!...we spotted the hot grill/BBQ right next to the tables and enquired as to food. No probs….a dozen lamb shish kebabs were soon wafting delicious aromas over the table. 10 minutes later we were scoffing melt in your mouth BBQ lamb with just right amount of fat to be scrumdiddilylicious….and only 30c each….Beers…80c each and coke 50C. An afternoon of perceived decadence for less than $8….
Despite the fact we had slept on the train we were both pretty whacked with the long hot walk and continued overnighters so we crashed pretty early, bolstering our reserves for the next 24hr trip through to Kashgar! A place that is right up there with Marrakesh, Samarakand and Esfehan for me in terms of exotic must sees. Fingers crossed it doesn’t disappoint.