The long train journey

Here most of our trip through China ends… The next couple of days we
head a three day train journey to the Inner Mongolia (內蒙古) province,
to the capital town of Hohhot (呼和浩特) – called the blue city in
Chinese.
The first leg goes from Kashgar to Turpan (吐魯番 – tǔlǔfān), a 22 hour
trip with only seats available. Loaded with lots of fruit, water and
instant noodles we board the train. Dreading the road ahead, since we
know we’ll arrive broken!
Luckily the people on the train are friendly and nice, so this makes
things sweeter.

We arrive perfect in time in Turpan, known as China’s Death Valley. It
lies at 153m below sea level and is China’s hottest spot! Up to 50° in
summer… Despite the heat, the ground water made this a very
important and fertile oasis along the silk road route.
Evidence for that is shown by the presence of the vineyards and the
ruined cities around, especially the ruins of Jiaohe, stated as one of
the most beautiful remnants of an old city in the world. From the
train station we head immediately to there, and agreed the ruins are
nice to stroll into. Located on a leaf-like rock, surrounded by water,
the remnants have a go. Especially the scale (1750m long by 300m wide)
and the good conservation make it an impressive visit.
After that we hire a ride to the famous Emir minaret in town. It is a
sight stated on almost every postcard around Xinjiang and a typical
Afghan style mosque… We spent half an hour on site and really liked
it.

Spending one day around Turpan would be great, but we only have a
couple of hours… Our next train leaves at 18:42… Just one thing we
forgot about, the train station is some 55km north of Turpan and now
it is 17:30. Oops, rush hour.
Luckily a local helps us quite fast inside a taxi, who rushes to the
station! A really enervating drive. We arrive at 18:25 at the station,
rush to collect our luggage, are delayed by the security check about a
fuel can for our stove and board the train at 18:41…
Pfieuw, we made it! We saw the main Turpan highlights in a couple of
hours and boarded the next train just in time.

Now we are on the way to Hohhot, 31 hours… But with a sleeper. We
can reload our batteries after the exhausting first leg. Tomorrow
night we’ll arrive in the town and apply for the Mongolian visum.
Let us cross the fingers and hope all goes smooth…

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