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China mash

  A real hard sleeper Kashgar - hard to leave

Cant stand the heat"9:31 pm

Its pretty rough being 150 metres below sea-level without even a yangrouchuarto your name. In the Turpan basin, like everywhere in the whole damnprovince, indeed, the largest in China, there are no ATMs that acceptforeign cards. And of course, China being China, you cant use yourcredit card anywhere. If, by some miraculous stroke of luck you do findsomewhere you can whack it on the plastic, youll be stung for around5% of the amount. If youre heading out this way, pile on the cash.

Like most places in Xinjiang, the train station that serves Turpanis a good while away from the actual place you want to get to. Unlessyou have an unhealthy interest in such impressive provincialnothingness as the towns of Daheyan and Liuyuan,youll want to hotfoot it straight away to where youre going - even ifit is 4am - and the townsfolk are well aware of it. Stumbling off thenight train from Dunhuang 8 hours to the South-East, after a blazingrow with the guard at the station exit because you lost your - used -ticket (what, indeed, is he going to say" No, Im sorry Sir, youllhave to stay in this station forever), upon hearing anEnglish voice and happy smiling face behind the wheel of a minibusheaded your way, you cant quite believe your luck.

Of course, this does mean that youre now part of the hard sell onday-tours around Turpan, and it is remarkable how the same guy will popup at every moment during your stay, until you relent and allow him tocall up one of the plethora of taxi drivers under his command

Turpan, in the middle of the desert, and the second-lowest point onEarth (the first being the Dead Sea in Israel), is ridiculously hot.

Indeed, it is particularly hot in the heat of the day. When you arecycling. Riding bikes intended for 5 year olds entirely devoid offeeling in their posterior. With this in mind, we set out for theancient city of Jiaohe, a supposed 8km West of Turpan, but morerealistically closer to about 80. At least that was the consensus uponarrival when we collapsed by the entrance, with no regard for themaddening cries of Hellosiirrwater! behind us.

We did, however, strike up enough strength to pour scorn on theUighur boy selling watermelons at ludicrous prices. 32 kuai forthat"!" We bought a bigger one yesterday for less than 1kuai!. Hewalks off in a huff, be we look to be suitably in a mope for his motherto relent and get the boy to bring us a slice each.

Cold watermelon in the heat of the day - the only true rival forthat first pint of ice cold lager after an afternoon on the footiepitch in August.

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:::China mash ,,start
posted 23 May 2007


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