My backpacking journey has already started off with bad karma, or in this case, bad feng shui. As I connected flights from Hong Kong to Chengdu to Urumqi, I was already told my backpack was lost in transit. Not good! But obviously by sticking to my rules of hardcore backpacking, things will never seem bad. Like rule #4 for instance – wearing special and quickdry underwear and socks while traveling on a long bus/train/plane ride. No, not all the time. Just the days I’m in transit. And yes, sounds stupid and all my friends get a kick outta it. But in this case, I’m on day 3 currently without any of my clothes and it saved my ass, literally.
Anyways, I’ve arrived to Urumqi, China, home of the hyper-rich Silk Road legacy and as unexpected its -2 degrees celcius. The sun is shining so not too bad but def freezing my ABC ass off. This city is also known to be the furthest place in the world from an ocean. So bathing suit shops aren’t too popular here. Urumqi was where a massive riot in 2009 by the Uyghur people occurred expressing their anger about recent police abuse. Basically China’s own Rodney King LA riots. Except they know how to shut off communication with the world as to not spread bad news about their country. But it seems like everything seems peaceful now.
The best way I can describe how Uyghur people look is like a mix between Turkish and Russian with a spice of Chinese but honestly they remind me of my Iranian friend. The women all wear beautiful traditional head dressing and men just all wear slacks (mostly black) and a jacket (mostly black). And they either sport the Borat type mustache or the elderly got the crazy long beard going. I showed them my lack of a beard and how super jealous I was. The language they speak is a Turkic language salted with words from Chinese, Mongol, Kyrghyz, Uzbek, Wakhi, Russian, Urdu, Arabic and Persian. So in other words, I have no idea what people are saying to me. There are also much more Chinese looking Uyghur people but I believe they have a slightly different background. Its confusing yet interesting to learn. That’s why I love traveling.
(Maitian International Youth Hostel- 35RMB ($4)/night) I’ve met some new Chinese friends in the hostel I’m staying at. Really cool funny guys. Sam from Shanghai who can speak a little English and Chris (I gave him an English name because he looks exactly like a Chris from home) from Hubei who barely speaks. They’ve shown me around to a few eating spots. I’ve loaded up on mutton and lamb and I have to say, lamb here is by far the best I’ve ever had IN THE WORLD. I also ventured into the Uyghur community a few times and had hand toss noodles (5rmb/$0.60), baozi (1rmb) and nan bread (1rmb). We also ate at a Korean bbq spot with two bottles of soju only costing us three 100RMB ($12). But my favorite dish so far is this one called da pang ji (big plate chicken). Its a spicy chicken and potato dish of heaven. It could easily feed four people but Chris and I devoured it ourselves. (45RMB/ $6) I’m trying to help Chris improve his English as he’s helping me improve my Chlingish. The other day he mistaked “chase” with “shit”. So he told me that he likes to “shit on girls alot.” I honestly thought he really did.
Honestly, I was expecting a much more abundance of Uyghur people because I find it quite interesting seeing people other than the Han people in China. People say its the white chinese people. But I’m not so convinced yet. Its basically saying I’m the yellow American. Because Urumqi is such a big city, I’m thinking about traveling even close to the border of Kazahstan and Russia to a city called Yining (Yili to the chinese people). Its a bit out of the way, but when will I ever be here again right? Maybe I should start taking suggestions to my next destination from people. Like a choose your own adventure. Its a thought. Let’s hope my bag comes soon. Its been tough to get online but I’m doing my best. Here are a few photos I’ve taken so far.