Friday, September 3, 2010
Day 1- Urumqi
FRIDAY, AUGUST 13
The trip to Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, took four hours. But even before getting off the plane I was blown away by the autonomous region’s majesty – snow covered mountains lay off in the distance as the plane descended, surrounded by a desert-like landscape. It was a sight I’d only seen in movies.
As you can see from the map, Urumqi is located in a mountain range in Central Xinjiang.
As we drove around Urumqi looking for our hostel I was surprised at how developed the city was. It was almost too developed and reminded me of a slightly dirtier Beijing, complete with smog and lots of traffic. And I didn't see any Uyghrs the first day either.
China is in the process of developing its western regions, an initiative known as the Western Development, to improve the region's infrastructure and bring it up to date with China's east coastal provinces. It also involves moving Han-Chinese into the region, which upsets the local, but it's all being done in the name of progress.
But the next few days, and the rest of the trip, would make up for the lack-luster first day.